Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hawaii living :: Phase One - Settling In

 

 

 

 




For more pics visit :: http://picasaweb.google.com/bioniclove/HawaiiMauiWowie#
Hawaii :: Maui Wowie


ALoooooooooHA my friends & family,


If you feel inspired by the stories & pictures of life in paradise...come visit!
Thats why i'm writing, to lure people into the land of ALoha!

I have been here in the land of aloha on Maui now since June 25th - 4 months.
I really feel that Hawaii has rolled out the red carpet for me - so grateful! The first
month was a big cultural shock, a bit rough - maybe i tripped a few times on the wrinkled part of the red carpet as it was unrolling, but now I have settled in quite well. I will tell my story & simultaneously share things that I hope you will find useful to fulfill your curiosity about Hawaii & Polynesian culture. I really do feel like I am still traveling in a way. You know, Hawaii is part of the United States, but yet, it isn't! It is its own very distinct & extremely proud culture with a set of values very different than America. Down the road I would like to write a blog more about that, once I immerse myself into the culture more & study up (i plan to read that James Michener classic 'Hawaii' again). But...things are going real well for me. On top of the world! Literally...when i went up to
the top of Haleakala the other day. Floating on a good natural high lately with
yoga, meditation, surfing, eating amazing food & loving this Aloha life.

For now, this is what i've been up to & noticed about this incredible place.

My new home :: Island living. Maui is one of the 7 main islands, shaped like a head & upper torso, population about 140,000 - give or take the coming & going of thousands of daily tourists. I picked Maui for a few reasons, one being that I actually knew somebody here, Mattius (my ole college buddy). I am now living in an amazing little home that he rented for a year & passed on to me. Truly 'eco-living' alternative home. Check out the photos on link below! A deluxe 25' 'yurt' designed by Pacific Yurts (www.pacificyurts.com). I have never lived alone & always had great roomates & no need or desire to...until now. My life is quiet when i want it to be, and social when i choose. My front yard is an orchard of 30+ fruit trees including mangoes (more than we can eat!), avocados, bananas, papayas, oranges, lemons & so much more. We (4 people in seperate homes) share a big garden with 4 20foot by 5foot plots. I am planting corn, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, kale & lettuce this week. I have never felt surrounded by so much lush nature & abundance in my life! After 2 years traveling around the globe & living out of my backpack, hostels & rentals...having a long-term home is a relief! I feel I could be here for a long time (3 to 5 years or more in this home, then hope to buy some land & two of these yurts and/or other alternative eco-home). Living Aloha & loving it. Hawaii is most definitely the place I want to settle down & feels like home like no other place. I looked on www.astro.com and it is the absolute best place astrologically for me to be with many good planetary alignments. For a long time I have wanted to try living out of the cities, 'green living' as its called these days. Less pollution & thats including air, noise & environmental pollution (that includes all the 'waves' in our physical/mental/emotional
fields). So far, soooooo good!
I chose Maui because Mattius said that I could get a job working with disabled kids in the schools or homes. Within 4 weeks I got hired with the company, Quality Behavior Outcomes, as an education assistant working with a 14 year old boy with asperger's (autism). I worked with him for 2 months & it was challenging almost every day as he had a regular tendency to escalte into fits of anger, frustration, blame & aggression. He's a big kid too, about 6ft1 & 200lbs & in the first 3 weeks we had to have 2 of us restraining him in a basket hold (his arms wrapped like a pretzel over his chest by somebody behind him)...70% of the time, my job with him was easy. i could read a book while he was on his 'reward time' reading in the library. But the aggression got to be too much so I transferred to another school & client.
The new kid I work with is a 9 year old at Kula elementary about 20 minute drive from my home. Beautiful view from up there on the mountain looking down at the westside ocean!
I like working with him alot more than the last, but its in a way more work. 6.5 hour
shift 7:30am-2pm i need to be engaged with him constantly. games, workouts,
recess, feeding, & school work. He has severe autism, but verbal
& high functioning. a cute lad, but man...not used to being a teacher, and parent!
Lots of talking the whole time. But hey, i get $18 hr. which is as good as i can
get with my B.A. in a completely different field. Grateful that they hire us 'other fielders' & train us well! Got medical & dental benefits through the company too (only about $40 month).
I know lots of people here that dont have any work & are struggling.
Electricians not able to find their $25-40 hour jobs & having to fly over to Oahu & such.
Or like the 11,000 that had to leave the island this year for work on mainland.
So...i'll take this job & smile with it for now.


Massage school is going good. Real good! Learning lots. 2 months into a 12 month evening part-time 650 hour course. I am so excited to
make massage therapy (combined with teaching yoga, sound healing, music) my
new career path. One I can keep growing into & continuing education & feel real good
about. I have been interested in this field since my mom studied it back in 1992.
I'm just a late bloomer kinda 30-something in the career & relationship department!
One thing about massage is after you give one...you almost always feel energized & naturally high! The Thai's call massage "an act of loving kindness". Maybe in this giving love & kindness there is a universal feedback loop that backfires & gives back to you? Maybe you are a channel for Allah's (no, i'm not islamic, just like this word for the force that makes the Universe flow "Ahhh...All...All...Ahhhh" energy to flow through, and in this flowing you are filled with love & compassion?
Whatever is happening...i like it! I love natural highs & am embracing as many as i can
to stay healthy & happy. Surfing is another one i've recently discovered...


Surfing :: What Maui is known for is its mecca for ocean sports such as surfing, windsurfing, kiteboarding & the big new thing...paddleboarding. Before coming here I had surfed about 5x over a period of 12 years. Now, i've gone about 12 more times and...I am hooked! Period.
I bought my first board - a 9foot, 3 finned yellow Maui built longboard I bought off Craigslist (see photos), the 2nd week i was here. You see i have my priorities straight! Who needs brake jobs on cars when that can be put off for months to get a surfboard!
I'm going out as much as possible, which means when the waves are good & my schedule allows. I spend the night with some new musician friends/surfer buddies near our beginners wave called "The Cove" & go in late evening, again in the morning so I dont have to commute 2 hours to get a double dose of surfing. I'm standing up only about 2-3x in an hour of attempts, but surfing is not easy & alot of work somedays - but those little rewards are exponentially fantastic & make it all worthwhile!
My new favorite spot is Gaurdrails up just before Lahaina. Consistently good for beginners to intermediate these past few months, not too many people and a good shady place for my hammock (see my pic of me at other surf spot 'Thousand Peaks' which also has a great hammock spot - a necessity for me).

"Surfers are a diverse group of people continually striving to find the adrenaline high that comes from riding large waves or small. It makes them feal good and, as everyone knows, to be happy is an irresistible human condition. Every time we witness somebody tasting it for the first time they show an expression of pure joy, childlike and deeply instinctive. The spontaneous joy is what surfing is all about!" (from the book The Ultimate Guide to Surfing)

"Surfing involves so many ancient pasttimes & survival skills...There is exercise: paddling, swimming, sprinting, cardiovascular and upper body conditioning. There is fea and excitement: hunting and being hunted. There is cleanliness: mineral water immersion in the world's greatest hot spring (seawater soaking that is now a chic spa treatment called thalasso-therapy). There is cooling down and warming up, near-naked sunbathing, vitamin D absorption, and mating display. Surfing pushes back the genetic fear of drowning, builds personal confidence, and connects us to the natural world.
Successfully riding a wave, though a small part of total surfing time if you count the seconds, is what scientists call a peak experience. There is absolute concentration. There is speed and reaction to change at speed. There is simultaneous awareness and minute adjustment to all of the forces of nature in dynamic flux. There is a dance of balance & grace. There are heavy G turns, weightlessness, floating, flying, falling, and the sensation of walking on water. There is the exhilarating union of mind/body/spirit/universe. " (Garth Murphy - The Surfers Journal, article ' Surfers & the Pleasure Principle)

So yeah, a big part of my life these days revolves around how to get out & ride some more waves!
Did I aleady tell you...i'm hooked!

Beaches :: It's a known fact that Maui (and all of Hawaii) has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Red sand beaches, black sand beaches, but mostly...white - and lots of 'em! Although the large resorts are in front of many, there are rules against private beaches here, which means public access for all! My favorite beaches are far from those resort beaches anyhow. Here are a few of my best beach moments lately :

1) Lanai - swam with pod of about 20 dolphins on & off for an hour! Incredible experience!!!

2) Little Beach - Maui's legendary nude beach. Voted #1 nude beach in the world here :
http://matadortrips.com/best-nude-beaches-in-the-world/
with my old stomping grounds "Wreck Beach" in Vancouver a close 2nd.
Every Sunday Little Beach is host to a big drum circle/music jam/fire-spinning session.
A hippy party some say, but actually all types of people there enjoying this ultimate freedom.
Somedays one can even spot a naked surfer! I have to try that when i get better!!!

3) Tavares Beach - just 5 minutes from Paia town, a quaint little beach that has just the perfect couple of trees for the hammock (you'll see this is a reoccuring theme of mine). I go here & read for hours in the hammock! Not bad for swimming as well, and when i get better, surfing as its usually too big for me here at this point in time.


Music scene :: well, the music scene is both good & bad here. Good if you like Reggae (which i happen to still love!) and Hawaiian music (gotta love that ukelele). In 4 months i've seen a whoppin' 5 live reggae shows including : Ziggy Marley, the Maui Massive annual festival featuring Katchafire, Lion Vibes & Jah Levi, and Twinkle Brothers. The Ziggy show was really good! Man he has alot of soul & at times so like his dad its scary! My friend ran into him at a grocery store the other day and apparently he hangs out here for weeks at a time & loves Maui. He even wrote a song "Beach in Hawaii". As for other genres & getting my musical inspiration (that to me is like a good diet -essential!!!), not so happening. I did see Diplo the other night, and J-Boogie. But the music was not as good as expected, lots of stupid people out in hordes, big egos, mini-skirts & bling fashion - with the grand finale a big streetfight at the end. Wierd, as after 5 years in Vancouver i only saw one fight in that big city, and here they happen almost every show I hear! Guess thats part of island fever...of which I will write about in the future as i'm not feeling it yet! Oh well, for me, I am taking the sacrifice of that essential music diet, for a big whopping serving of mother nature in the form of
surfing, boogieboarding, snorkeling, cruises, swimming with dolphins & in waterfalls,
fresh fruit from my backyard garden orchard, year long summers. I will truly miss
the music community i have come to know & love in BC & the whole West Coast! There is always roadtrips back to the mainland! AND...there is always creating your own better
scene here on Maui...which is a must! I have teamed up with a group of other musicians, djs , movers & shakers. We had a weekly Saturday night called "The Zen" in a warehouse called "Voyage East" -purfect for our events: amazing big space (full of Indonesian & Bali wood furniture, buddha statues, fountains, very fancy & exotic so we didnt even have to decorate the space!). Unfortunately, the space was granted to us for only 3 weeks & then the owner decided not to have us continue.
Besides dj'ing & helping create these events, my bigger goal is to get a live band together again. Its been awhile (maybe 5 years of doing solo music geeking out on my computer). now I am ready to play bass again & perform with a drummer (met a guy perfect for the job who is part of our event organizing crew). Starting to rehearse now. So, create your own reality as they say!

// The Flip Side //

Of course, every rose has its thorn & Hawaii is not all utopian ideals. Here are a few of the downers...

Island Fever :: Yep. It happens to the best of us! I've only been here 4 months so...
hasnt quite hit me yet. I'm still in awe of this beauty & all the possibilties for year round perfect weather fun! There's always trips to the mainland when island fever kicks in. And world travels to look forward to always : more Himalayan treks to North India, Nepal & Tibet. More Thailand yoga studies. Surf & bicycle trips to Bali & Indonesia & Costa Rica. Ahhh haaa. Thats how you cure island fever! And thats when not having kids comes in handy - that ultimate freedom!

Hurricanes :: After a much hyped Hurricane Felicia downgraded to a tropical storm that only brought a few days of rain to my part of the island, now we have another, Hurricane Hilda that is all the rage. Ahoy, button down yee hatches & run for the hills!
A weather sites had this to say about it -
"At this moment the eighth named tropical storm for the Central Pacific is Hilda. And while she is expected to continue west and pass safely to the south of the Hawaiian Islands, she is also expected to gain in strength and become a hurricane. Hawaii will apparently once again avoid a direct hit from a hurricane this year."
A lot of people here do take the hurricane proximities very seriously, as they should, because
the lovely Hawaiian Islands are not always so immune to this chaos that Florida & the Carribean knows so well. Back in 1981 Hurricane Ineka caused major damage throughout Hawaii. It can happen! I'm just glad I live up on the mountain and for the most part in the safe zone.

Racism // Aggression // Ego ::

Yeah, its here. Lots of it too. I really havn't come across much racism so far.
Well, maybe that big Hawaiian bouncer at Charlies that I tapped me & asked why I bumped into him when really I was just walking to the front of the stage on a busy night & lightly brushed by him.


Well...

If you feel inspired by the stories & pictures of life in paradise...come visit!
Thats why i'm writing, to lure people into the land of ALoha!

Thats all for now.

Oh and...other random thoughts!
***

// Swine Flu //
What a big scam this swine flu shot is, the
latest in the not-so-greatest pharmopseudoscience
scams to rob the people of health, money & natural healing.
i dont trust it one bit!
ten lies revealed here ::

http://www.naturalnews.com/027055_swine_flu_vaccines_swine_flu_vaccine.html

Monday, June 22, 2009

Chang Mai, Thailand :: June 2009 :: teaching yoga, studying massage & lots & lots of amazing food & markets!

Chang Mai, Thailand :: June 2009 ::
teaching yoga, studying massage & lots & lots of amazing food!

I heard about Thailands famous 'Lady-Boys', but this was something different!

to see all photos click here :
Chang Mai pics



The title of this blog pretty much sums up my month in Chang Mai. It is known to be a place to study massage & also for its large quantity of amazing restaurants! The old town, which is maybe 20 x 20 city blocks is surrounded by a huge brick wall & moat in the shape of a square - this dates back to the year 1295. Inside the moat is tourist heaven, where you find these restaurants that serve delicious food of all kinds (Thai, Indian, even good Mexican!) - all for about $1-3 a meal! My food obsession has been growing steadily as I am eating out three times a day, but still not gaining any weight! My current guesthouse has no kitchen so no cooking 90% of the meals as I did in Koh Phangan on the island. Here, the food eating makes up alot of our free-time!

Besides that, you can find 101 little massage parlors that give you a full body hour massage for about $5! Can you say 'bargain'? BARGAIN! I must have had 2 dozen since i've been in Thailand. So many, that I decided to learn how to do it myself & if I payed attention while I was getting them, I could have learned to do Thai massage that way! Instead, I choose to go to a 10 day massage course that specializes in "Thai yoga massage", a style that performs assisted stretches that often get you wrapped up like a pretzel, but feel very nice as you cannot do this on your own! The course was 60 hours & included a certification. I will be practicing alot when I get to Hawaii & hope to get good at this series of complicated confangled twisting & torturing, I mean massaging Thai style. It will take alot of practice...any takers to be my model this year???



I came to Chang Mai, number one, to help with the Agama Yoga school that reopened here. I taught about 2-3 classes a week, including some with lectures on various topics of yoga & health. It was a great experience...getting my feet wet in this new career path of the role as 'yoga teacher'. I met some great people who were my 'students', more like peers, who were excited to have this type of yoga in Chang Mai. I did this work as 'karma yoga', meaning volunteer work not paid - for the benefit of the larger Agama school. It just felt good being involved & part of the community here, as opposed to being just another tourist (not to say there is anything wrong with that, plenty of them here having fun). I met other yoga studio owners & got offers to teach in the future! There must be 10 yoga studios or more here as its really an active healthy community!

To escape the urban mini-jungle of Chang Mai's bad traffic & exhaust issue, my Turkish yogini friend Maneesha & I signed up for a two day jungle trek, a pseudo-safari! We chose the walking only tour, instead of all the activities such as elephant rides & rafting, as we both wanted to just get plenty of green time in the jungle. There was a group of 12 of us who walked about 3 hours the first day, had a basic Thai food late lunch of egg fried rice, then hung out at a so called hill-tribe. We had been told we would visit 3 hill-tribes that was listed on the brochure, but were a bit surprised that they were not so spectacular. No ancient people wearing ceremonial clothing playing ritual music or anything like that. Just regular Thai folks (although some come from Burma, Yunnan, Tibet, etc..) wearing jeans & t-shirts, living simple lives in poor villages, in modern times. Most houses where bamboo huts, very basic, but I always noticed that everywhere I have traveled in the world the poorest people somehow have satellite television! Guess it keeps them from being bored (see my photo of guy sleeping watching tv). I reckon they all pitch in to buy this 'necessity' of life. The trek took us to amazing places though, that is for certain. We went to see the elephants, swam at waterfalls & they even let me go rafting for no extra charge! I love white-water river rafting, especially when the rapids are so large that you
feel as though you are really risking your life!!! These were not quite that big, like my other time
doing this in Rishikesh for the 2 hour ride...now that was a thrill! After these rubber rafts, we got onto old style bamboo rafts & I was the leader to stroll us along the now quiet river, using a long bamboo pole to push us along. Fun times...

The next adventure I went on was to visit the famous Tao Garden resort, of Mantak Chia fame. He is an author of over 20 books on Tao, QiGong, sexual tantra for men/women, chi/energy & healing with these things. The center is about 20 buildings, a few meditation halls where they do retreats & workshops, an organic garden, an amazing oasis of a restaurant floating circular building surrounded by a pond, a juice bar, spa & book store. Inspiring place.
Reminded me a bit of Auroville spiritual community in India.
Ineka, you have to check out that place! It is about 100x inspiring as Tao Garden in what is going on there with various projects, workshops, retreats & such. You'd love it!
Yet another fun thing done this week was the Thai cooking class I did with a group of about 8 of us cooking 5 dishes. Woo laa! Now I can cook Thai without those pre-made packets!



A few other things to mention. I went to my first Muay Thai boxing event. About 7 fights, including one with two ladies and one with two 13 year olds that looked like 9 year olds.
I was quite surprised...I actually enjoyed myself seeing these people beat each other up!
Quite good jolly fun! Very contrasting to my yoga classes & lectures on 'Ahimsa', non-violence. But hey, not me doing the beating! Went to the Jazz club after for some live music. Good times & hey Alyssa..thanks for being my travel buddy that night & those few days hanging out enjoying this wild town! Then, my fantasticly free-spirited friend Squishelle showed up from Vancouver and we rented a scooter & proceeded to scoot up the mountain side to Dui Suthep Buddhist temple -one of the most sacred in this area which has over 500, so thats saying something!
Very nice up there and a view of the whole area. We attempted to hike up to the top of the mountain which was a 2 hour hike, but by 5 minutes into it a dramatic downpour began! After hiding under a big tree for 20 minutes or so, we boogied on down to a campground area with sheltered tables & made fruit salad lunch. Then off to visit another 'hill-tribe' about 15 minute scoot from there. Thats where we found this mysterious slanted hillside hill-tribe toilet!!! What is the meaning of this? I know Asians prefer these squatting style toilets with no seats, but...hmmm...this one is slanted at vertical angle & out in the open on a trail? !@#?




Now, I sit here at my humble guesthouse, with an amazing view from my 'penthouse' suite balcony. The mountain in the background is where I just mentioned we were.



I am preparing to leave Thailand after 6 months here. In 3 days I will be landing on Maui to make a new life in the Land of Aloha Hawaii. It has been a dream since I first visited in 2000, but even longer as I was about 16 & begin thinking I could be a surfer & live the beach life in a warm place. I am soooooo excited! A wee bit disoriented - after 22 months of the past 29 months spent traveling this big beautiful round globe of ours! I feel my mission has been accomplished. Mission complete. Time for this space cowboy to lay down some roots! I aim to find a home I like that is beautiful, with a shared big garden & fruit trees, possibly eco/alternative home with solar panels & off the grid. I have a few offers already from friend there who found some places for me, and Craigslist searching. Wish me luck! I really crave having a home I can stay in for a few years. Ideally build a simple eco-home & deluxe yurt if I can get involved with some shared land with a few other people (maybe even my dad). I look forward to getting involved with this new community in different ways such as teaching yoga, volunteering & offering workshops (I have the founder of Agama Yoga booked to do a workshop on Tantra in October - first of many!). I most likely will be taking the 12 month evening part-time Maui School of Therapeutic Massage course beginning September. That will give me 650 hours, a license to do massage in Hawaii & get me employed in yet another new career path for Adrian's life shape-shifting.

Man...no wonder i've felt a little disoriented lately. Traveled mostly solo to 15+ countries, only home 7 months in 2.5 years, moved all my stuff back to America to a remote island where I know one person and changing careers all at the same time. I read somewhere that stress is almost always a factor when people change jobs, or relationships, or move to another city or country. Or a death of a loved one.
I've experienced all of the above!
But i'm flowing in the direction I know I am meant to go.
The direction of the Heart.
Following the Heart.
Always.
All Ways!
Centered in Now.
In these changing times on Earth.
From birth, to the ending, never pretending to be alive!

I hope all my family & friends, aquaintances, travel buddies, ex-lovers & all my relations
are guided towards health, happiness & wholeness and enjoying life in this moment!

Drop me a line & let me know what your up to!

Blessings from S.E. Asia's 'Land of Smiles' Thailand,

Adrian ::

ps. I just got word that a travel article I wrote about yoga in Thailand is getting published in a travel magazine & website! woop woop! Small pay, but along with that other piece in the book "To North India With Love"...its another sign to keep writing! They may put some of my amateur photos in there to.



oh and...here is a little video from the Muay Thai boxing event!


video

Monday, April 27, 2009

My 2nd visit to Thailand January to July 2009.







My 2nd visit to Thailand January to July 2009.

I'm here this time on a mission mainly to study at the Agama Yoga school on Koh Phangon (tropical island in south), do their 3 month yoga teachers training intensive, stick around the island another 2 months (total of 5 on the island) studying the complete 8 limbs of Yoga (the original Yoga, before being turned into gymnastics by Westerners consists of Yama, Niyama, Asanas, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Concentration, Meditation, Samadhi). So, there's lots to learn & focusing on learning this from probably one of the best schools in the world, bringing back the ancient true forms of the complete Hatha Yoga system. They also teach health, healing, tao, tantric sexuality, diet, cleansings, Tibetan studies, lucid dreaming, mantras, & more. Not getting bored here, as each class is a new lecture, video & pamphlet. This school offers 5+ years of the above mentioned system of kundalini tantric based Hatha Yoga. After 9 months in India & checking out many schools there, not to mention back home, & seeking online, i'm grateful for finding this school in Rishikesh, studying some in Vancouver, and now coming to the source of the action, their main school here in Thailand where a great community of over 100 yogi's in training gather, share food, have dance parties, potlucks, meditation retreats, workshops on everything you can imagine, and yes....do Yoga together! Really feels like a 2nd home here!

So, I havnt written much lately as I was offline for most of the teachers training. Was actually very nice to be online only 1 hour a week or so. More time to enjoy LIFE before the internet. Getting to know new friends, snorkeling the coral reef zones near my bungalow & hanging out with the colorful fishees, reading good books & sitting in hammocks for many hours! I even invented a new yoga asana , "Hammockasana" ...the pose of the hammock! Enlightenment gauranteed!

The teachers training was incredibly life-changing experience! I mean really, can you imagine going to daily practice & lectures for 4 hours morning & another 4 hours+ in the evening for yoga 2-3 hours each class (including pranayama, meditation) and lectures, plus other meetings, videos, etc...6 DAYS A WEEK! Our life in between was a hustle to do errands, eat & study. No free-time for other stuff really. But WOWSERS...what a journey! This type of yoga intensive is well known for not only purifying & strengthening the physical body, but activating the prana (what chinese call 'chi', japanese 'ki'...the life-force), stabilizing the mind to deep states of peace & equanimity, and harmonizing & healing the emotional body. A pledge we signed for no alcohol or drugs this time for cleansing the bodies completely. All of us ate yogi diets (vegetarian, some vegan, lots of raw food, thai curry vegetable tofus, etc.). Apparently there are before & after photos of each of us 20 in the TTC on Jason Milne's Facebook page (our main teacher) and you can really see the difference! Growth in the right direction! Health & Happiness.

By the 2nd month some of us were so ready for some NON-YOGA things...like dance parties! Although I swore I would not DJ while doing TTC to totally absorb myself into yoga immersion, I could not resist the offers. They needed me! It was apparent the 2nd week, when they had an Indian themed performance art piece & dance party...with no music for it! So, i hopped on the Agama Yoga dj bandwagon & found myself doing 1-2 parties a month, playing my style of "Beats Without Borders" global electronica mostly. We did have a few smaller beach hut parties , one a Funk party, the other a Gypsy/Balkan Beats party where i played those styles. What fun people to dance & party with!

After the TTC, a few of us started teaching at Agama. I was feeling like waiting until June to teach Agama (as its very challenging style & need to integrate more), so I taught a very small class of 1-8 people , 6 mornings at Monte Vista Healing Center. A gentle Hatha Yoga class that was my first 'real' teaching of yoga. I liked it much more than teaching English (just cant do that anymore, unless its with smiling Buddha Tibetan young adults like in Dharamsala, India).
There was an extracurricalar Tantra 1 workshop I went to April 1-5th. It was very very informative about how to enhance your sex life 10x. 100x. 1000x. The ancient art of tantric love-making explained in 30-40 hours in detail. Wow. Didnt know it could be that good. Another new spiritual path to study & practice! Really, it makes sex a spiritual path, with goal of actually raising Kundalini in methodical manner to reach towards Enlightenment/Nirvana/Samadhi/Enrapture & deeper states of daily bliss, ecstasy & real happiness, healing the self & even sending out healing energy to others. much more but come do for yourself if interested. The books out there these days have too many errors & misinterpretations of THE WAY. Our main yoga school founder, Swami Vivekananda really knows what he is teaching as he's practiced 'fanatically' since he was 19 or so (25+ years). I have decided to bring Swami to host this workshop in Maui next October 13-18th. I hope it will be successful & people can really get inspired from this too.

My plan is to stay here on the island one more month taking it easy mostly. Reading lots of books, sitting in the ole hammock, swimming & watching movies from my new super-patio view home. Still doing month 7 of Agama Yoga lessons, but only 2x a week so lots of freetime. Just signed up for another type of yoga & massage 7 day intensive course which i'm real excited about...and its at Pyramid Yoga on the mountain i live on (5 minute walk)! only $200 for 7 days of learning Abdominal Chi Massage, Anasara Hatha Yoga (lots of partner poses, heart opening focus), and 14 vegetarian meals included! What a bargain!

At this moment I am on day 5 of a 7 day detox colon cleanse/fast. Holy smokes! I never thought i'd do this!!! Well, "maybe when i was older was my excuse." Or, "I've been a healthy vegetarian organic food eating guy since 1994, no need." But man...I talked to many many people here who thought the same. They did it anyway as the testimonials are abundant that it is a very positive healthy thing to do. So, i'm doing it! Yikes! My energy has been fluctuating like a roller coaster ride, up & down, highs & lows! Today, mostly lows. Havnt left the patio all day. Thats why i'm finally finishing these Blogs! All i can say is my highs have been really high. Feeling light at times & people remarking "your shining" several times that exact phrase. OK, when i'm done i hope to be shining more often! I have 'lightened up' a bit too much though in my opinion. Maybe 10 pounds so far & i was feeling totally healthy normal weight of 150lbs lean mean peaceful machine male weight before, but now 140 & looking a bit skinny. Oh well, I will gain it back, & have fun doing it! Food, Food, Food! Oh how I/We LOVE food huh?!? The ultimate attachment. I will be taking a Thai food cooking class at some point! Mmmm....
better not talk about it more right now! I'm drooling...
They say to think of it as "It's gonna be fun gaining back that weight, in a healthy way!"
And speaking of health "Cleansing the colon of wastes and accumutaled mucous and faecal matter is perhaps the single most positive thing a person could do for their health. The colon is the waste bucket of the body, and hence keeping it clean will help to ensure your body runs smoothly and efficiently."

But, if you want to know more about this kind of purification of the body temple done by colonics & how it can give great boosts in health, wellbeing, clarity, energy & deeper connection to the Self, check out the testimony of the man that started Orion Healing Center (where i'm doing it):
http://www.orionhealing.com/ourvision.html

But seriously, I was going to talk alot about personal experiences with this full system of Yoga, but I think i'll just say a few words & keep a low profile on the personal journey. Feel free to email me if you have any questions regarding Yoga & this school (www.AgamaYoga.com).

As for other things non-Yoga (which at this point me & most of us here are craving!)...i'd like to talk politics of all things. Things are heating up with the Thai redshirt protesters in Bangkok with 2 tanks being seized by them on April 12th (hey, my birthday, i should have been partying on those tanks with them)! Trying to oust the current prime-minister isnt easy! Besides that I am writing about other topics such as global changes/worldshift 2012 manifesto, obama nation & his speech to congress which sounds promising & other more philosophical ideas about life, progress, security & success. You can read that blog with link to video of the tank party & other real informative sites:

http://emptythemindnow.blogspot.com/

Trust me...you gotta read up on at least the WorldShift 2012 :: State of Global Emergency, and Obamas speech. Lots of hope & fear in the air! Choose HOPE!



Bless Bliss , Be Loved, Beloved & Enjoy The Universe,

Adrian ::

Monday, April 20, 2009

Thailand :: 2nd visit Jan/June 2009

My 2nd visit to Thailand January to July 2009.

I'm here this time on a mission mainly to study at the Agama Yoga school on Koh Phangon (tropical island in south), do their 3 month yoga teachers training intensive, stick around the island another 2 months (total of 5 on the island) studying the complete 8 limbs of Yoga (the original Yoga, before being turned into gymnastics by Westerners consists of Yama, Niyama, Asanas, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Concentration, Meditation, Samadhi). So, there's lots to learn & focusing on learning this from probably one of the best schools in the world, bringing back the ancient true forms of the complete Hatha Yoga system. They also teach health, healing, tao, tantric sexuality, diet, cleansings, Tibetan studies, lucid dreaming, mantras, & more. Not getting bored here, as each class is a new lecture, video & pamphlet. This school offers 5+ years of the above mentioned system of kundalini tantric based Hatha Yoga. After 9 months in India & checking out many schools there, not to mention back home, & seeking online, i'm grateful for finding this school in Rishikesh, studying some in Vancouver, and now coming to the source of the action, their main school here in Thailand where a great community of over 100 yogi's in training gather, share food, have dance parties, potlucks, meditation retreats, workshops on everything you can imagine, and yes....do Yoga together! Really feels like a 2nd home here!

But let me back up to the first few days I spent in Bangkok. What an ancient Asian labrynth that place is!

It's been 7 years already since the first time here back in Feb/March 2002. Man...i forgot whata lovely place Thailand is! Kind people, beautiful temples & all things exotic & different from what us westerners are used to. Bangkok was again a fun mysterious flow of temples, riverboats, KohSan Road tourist trinkets & the oasis guesthouse, Shanti Lodge. Same Same as 2002, but different. Thats what they say here in their broken English, "Same, same - but different!" I did alot of the same things this time in Bangkok, but somehow it was like a totally new experience. This place continues to intrigue me.

typical smaller riverboat in Bangkok - a great way to get around for about 50cents a ride!
typical smaller riverboat in Bangkok - a great way to get around for about 50cents a ride!

I arrived in Bangkok 6pm December 29th, 2008 after about 42 hours journey from Maui! That consisted of a plane leaving Maui late at midnight, spending the night sleeping on a cement bench (good thing i brought my yoga mat!) at an unusually quite & calm Honolulu Internaitional Airport (where I chained all of my bags up together & slept a decent 5 hours). I woke up & caught the 7am China Airlines long 12 hour flight to Taipei, with a quick transfer to another China Airlines 4 hour flight to Bangkok, arriving to the metropolis about 5pm. From the airport I caught the Airport Express shuttle (only $5, 150baht) one hour to Khoa San road, and then a local tuk tuk (motorcycle covered wagons - called rickshaws in India) to Shanti guesthouse in Thewet area.

me & Confuscious hanging out in Bangkok!
me & Confuscious hanging out in Bangkok!

Shazaam! I was thouroughly pooped after that, but managed to have a full power first day checking out the many big temples nearby. The first thing I noticed about being back in Thailand is the spirit of these people. Very light-hearted, kind, gentle, smiling people. A people that are over 90% Buddhist - which means most pray daily for world peace/inner peace, with many meditating regularly, visiting temples for offerings of incense, flowers & prayers for their health, wealth, family & the world. When I changed money at the airport I saw the woman working there do a prayer with palms together (called a wai, same gesture as Namaste in India) & eyes closed before beginning work that morning. When I went to the bank to cash a US $100 bill the next day, a tear came to my eye as the bank teller woman did the "wai" bow to me & the glimmer in her eye shined bright with peace & happiness. The Asian Thai spirit is strong! It is so amazing to be in such a big city such as Bangkok (7.5 million people) and hardly anybody honking (unlike India, and America for that matter!!!). The people hardly even harassed me to purchase things as I experienced in many other countries ("hey friend, want to buy silk scarf"). There is great respect for personal space here. Well, except when you are in a dense over-filled market, filled with people shopping through dozens of baskets of food things you've never seen before, many unidentifiable such as seafood (mostly still alive!) and vegetables that may as well be from another planet! I never cease to be mesmerized by the exotic and sometimes downright yucky aromas of these food markets (well, its the huge piles of fish that gets to ya).

dont mess with the King! pics of him EVERYWHERE & you can get jail-time for talking bad about him!  for realio!
dont mess with the King! pics of him EVERYWHERE & you can get jail-time for talking bad about him! for realio!

The first morning, I took a riverboat down the Chao Phraya river. How fun! Many people get around by these boats for less than 50cents a ride. It was about a 15 minute ride from Thewet area of Shanti Guesthouse to the grand palace & main temple district. So, me, the farang (foreigner) I am, six feet 3 inches high, towered above the average Thai person, and Thai entrances! Ducking down carefully everywhere I go! I went to this one temple to meditate & ran into a happy-go-lucky tuk tuk driver who took me to about 4 different sites for free. Well, not exactly free - he received 300 baht for taking me to 3 different tourist traps (each only 2 minute stop - a custom suit shop, travel agent & jewelry shop). It really made his day...he was laughing & ecstatic for making an extra days wage (i think average day wage here is about $5). We went to Gold Mountain (incredible panaramic view of entire Bangkok), Marble temple (of course these are the western names for these unpronounceable Thai names) & Standing Buddha (100 foot high standing buddha that people prayed to). The Happy Buddha temple was closed. But I was still happy! Here you will see some photos of that adventure. Overwhelmed with beauty & respect for the intricate art that went into making these humongous temples! Deep respect for the people who are devoted to the path of peace & prayer in this Buddhist tradition.


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Me & my new job as a "Tuk Tuk" taxi driver! Well, just think, some of your are so gullible you think i'm serious about this!?!


spirit houses (inspired from India) - to feed & pay respect to the ancestors
spirit houses (inspired from India) - to feed & pay respect to the ancestors

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monks have cellphones too!

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New Years eve eve cultural party on KohSan Road.

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Wat Arun Temple Entrance - and you can go up to the top for quite a view!
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view from the top, yet another temple in the background. mission accomplished!


Hawaii :: grand finale of 16 month trip

Hawaii :: checking it out to see if I want to move here. my 3rd visit to this magical land of beaches, bamboo forests, waterfalls oh my!



for my grand finale of this 15 month global adventure i spent my last month in Hawaii, on Maui with a good ole friend Mattius, who hosted us, and my dad. For my dads 60th birthday present i flew him over to spend 3 weeks with us. This trip was also to sess out Maui & Hawaii & make sure I want to move there next year. at first I had many big intentions for all sorts of activities to fill the days, but I slowly began to understand "maui time" & let go of the agendas. enjoying this time became more about being rather than doing. Mattius has been living in this deluxe yurt that is run off solar power. This is exactly what i intend to manifest! I love these yurts! A yurt combined with a wooden eco-home such as offered by this company: www.mandalahomes.net\ would be ideal & affordable sustainable natural living! He has wireless internet, a nice kitchen, plenty of space for living. but with 3 of us there it got to be a little tight at times.

Daily we feasted on the fresh bananas, papayas & avocados growing in his front yard. how cosmic to have your fruit growing in front of you! i could get used to this...

My dad & I went on a few touristy expeditions. we went on a snorkeling boat trip to Molokini reefs & Turtle Town. I swam about 5 feet from a huge turtle that didnt really pay me much attention (he was probably thinking "yeah, yeah...i've seen thousands of you guys" and i was thinking "wow! second time i've swam with a turtle!"). lots of colorful tropical fish too of course! The other big trip we did was a sunset dinner cruise. This was free because we went to a time-share presentation. Other highlights were hiking in a big bamboo forest, swimming in a waterfall pool at Twin Falls, Spreckelsville beach, HoOkipa point watching the surfers, Little Beach 2 visits, boogieboarding 2x...and seeing Willie Nelson play at Charlies , which was a smaller unannounced show! he lives there half the year & likes to just stop in every now & then.

"on the road again, i just cant wait to get back on the road again."

good way to end my trip...someday i will move to Hawaii, even if just for a year. must be done...

JAPAN #1 :: November 2007 :: 6 action-packed days/5 late nights

namaste Risa for making my japan trip happen in style!
namaste Risa for making my japan trip happen in style!

JAPAN :: 6 action-packed days/5 late nights

I finally made it to Japan! Since a young child I have idealized aspects of their culture such as ninjas, martial arts, the samurai strength & willpower. Later I grew fond of their Zen Buddhism, temples, art, architecture & history. Japan, a land where many samurais once roamed, now replaced by business men in black suits who seek a different kind of power. Most things have changed into a post-post-modern futurism of digital buildings & consumerist culture that for me was overwhelming. But…some things never change. The rice, bamboo & seafood are still abundant. The old wisdom within their culture remains, and can be understood if you are an observant outsider.

surfer/musician friend Mikey at his pad in Kamakura...surfs up!
surfer/musician friend Mikey at his pad in Kamakura...surfs up!
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Coming from total of 10 months in India & Nepal, two of the poorest countries in the world to Japan, one of the richest was again another cultural shockwave. My 6 day visit was short, but action-packed & full of good times & interesting people, thanks to new friend and fellow music freak Risa. Thanks to her I saw 3 music shows (2 for free on guestlist), went to Thanksgiving big dinner in Yokohama, a sleepover & BBQ in Kamakura surfing community & I met many of her music business friends who were all my kinda people…fellow music fanatics. Thank you Risa for giving me the red carpet style tour of your area! The first day in Tokyo I went on a walk & subway to Shibuya, right to the heart of Babylon central shopping district where thousands of fashionable and well employed youth were out shopping as usual. The crowds were interesting to me as I people watched & compared to India/Nepal big cities. So much money in this country! Probably more than all 1.2 billion + of India/Nepal combined in this small country! These people are all rich…my goodness are they rich compared to 80% of the world that lives in poverty! Yen power! Shop shop shoppin’ til your droppin’! I didn’t see anybody in all of Tokyo that wasn’t wearing new designer clothes & sparkling clean (you know Japanese have history of taking daily baths & clean clothes & when foreigners first came over on ships, and today, we were quite stinky & dirty to them). I went to a music store & checked out all the latest gear (I havnt looked at new stuff since I left last year). Wooo…a new KAOS pad…cool! I didn’t go to “Electric Town” where most technology/electronic gear is sold. Not really in the mood to buy. Just here to observe & have fun & meet people! After Shibuya went to Japanese Garden & park to rest, had picnic including that little bottle of wine I stashed from airplane! That night, Risa took me to a huge 10+ band/djs show at the main arena for sumo wrestling, which rarely has music shows. Got there a little late for dj Krush so only caught his last 2 minutes of sound effects outro madness. The rest of the music was not so appealing to me/us so we left to a techno future funk night her friend organizes at a little club. I was uber-tired but managed not to fall asleep standing up, barely! (should have drinken some coffee). Met some more music friends, & I dug the retro Herbie Hancock techno remix tracks that were most definitely funky & to my liking! Finally after almost 2 nights of no sleep (airplane, then this) we went home around 3:30am. Good intro to Tokyo yo!

old japan
old japan
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black is the color of choice. dressed to impress like a rolls royce. slave to the fashion, and the money you don’t save. you better not show emotions & be well-behaved. if you focus mostly on material your heart grows cold. missing out on simple things in life & then you grow old. where is the love & big smiles wide?

maybe I will go search the old countryside…

That’s very judgemental yes, but what can I say. poetry in motion.

heck, I too like wearing black, spend money freely, and am trying to not show my emotions as us westerners do. The asian way is more introverted and revolves around saving face (meaning not showing negative emotions in public or you ‘lose face’!), instead of freely expressing your emotions like us westerners have from the beginning of time (“adam, your a fucking jerk!” , “hey eve, go to hell!”). There must be a compromise in between the two ways.

more old japan
more old japan
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Expressing some in healthy way and therefore not repressing emotions, but not getting out of control. I know in my recent life (these travels) I have begun a quest to control my emotions through yogic exercises such as deep breathing/pranayama, uddhiyana bhanda & other asanas, & just being aware & controlling the mind from being negative & wasting energy.

Hard work but worth the battle, the internal battle, the mind

is your greatest enemy, ya know?

I could not believe how quiet & still nearly everybody was on the trams/subways after noisy husting & bustling India!!! Polar opposites! Here space is respected & everybody is so sensitive!

babylon central
babylon central
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When you sit down next to somebody they get a little nervous & move. In India you were crammed 3 or 4 into a normal 2 seat

space in a bus & nobody budged. Indians held hands, laughed,

talked the entire way every single bus I went on…alive…living

fully with what they have…friendship, open-hearts & conversation. Talking the latest Bollywood or Hindi pop music or relationship gossip. I’m sure there is another warmer livelier side

high tech toilets!  i think it even had bum massage option?
high tech toilets! i think it even had bum massage option?
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to Japanese public life that I just did not see. Maybe at their homes, weddings & parties things get looser? Heck, I was only there less than a week so I am no expert on this ancient culture & their modern ways.

Next day, Friday November 23rd…Thanksgiving dinner at her friends in Yokohama (the place I’ve been reading in two Shogun

books – where the foreigners first built a settlement near Tokyo in 1800’s). Now, not so many foreigners. Actually most days the places I went I was the only foreigner in site! I kept noticing how much this tall blond guy with red beard & old faded traveling clothes must look in comparison to them. I stood out, but I’m used to it now after 15 months abroad. While at the dinner party I asked Risa’s friends where I could go to see the poorer neighborhoods, ghettos, homeless & drug addicts of Tokyo…but nobody knew. Guess everybody is rich in this place! They were surprised that I did not eat any turkey & I explained my 99% vegetarian diet last 12 years & that really I am not fully vegetarian but ‘pescatarian’ (seafood eating) as I believe that works for me. I ate lots of stuffing and some fish. To this point I had not drank alcohol in over 3 months and have been purely vegetarian since Europe when I last had some fish here & there. I love seafood, “when I see food I eat it! when I seafood, I eat it!” I lost about 15 pounds in India and am looking like a skinny, but healthy yogi these days. I don’t mind so much as I know I rid myself of many many toxins with that 300 hours of yoga & a few cleansing techniques, but…now I would like to gain back that weight in a healthy muscle building

modern day business men samurai
modern day business men samurai
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& diet of more pasta, seafood etc…(got any other weight gain tricks for me???) That night, stayed night in nearby Kamakura,

a very cool beach town/surfing mecca smaller community nearby.

Stayed at Mikee’s, guy part of Cynic Records and that funky techno night. I felt him a fellow kindred spirit musician friend. His music studio & little home with ocean view balcony was very inspiring (see picture). This is what I crave & will manifest soon…someday soon I hope, inshallah! A place to call home for long-term that is near ocean, lots of hardwood, big windows, a good space for music studio, record collection, zen space, silence,

and creating a harmonious home. Ahhhh….how this traveler now yearns for that. Funny huh, we always want what we don’t have.

Maybe I’ll get that & then want to travel again someday, but at least I want a foundation to go back to. Am I ready to buy a house

or should I just keep renting nice spaces like this…? Time will tell. Little 7 year old daughter Nina playful in the morning. We all went for a walk to show me some temples & the beach on our way to the BBQ / Buffalo record label cozy day lunch party. Surfers everywhere around here. I like this place! Surfing & music. The simple life…this is it!

15 women & 4 guys is a ratio i can get use to...Thanksgiving party
15 women & 4 guys is a ratio i can get use to...Thanksgiving party
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5th day I went to Asakusa to see big Shozeiji Temple area. Impressive! Except for the 100’s of stores & market stalls surrounding it peddling products to tourists (can you tell that I am sick of all this consumerism, especially the cheesy plastic tourist crap?). But heh, I couldn’t find a calendar of zen/japan nature but found some postcard art that style. then I got the heck out of the market & went into old japan style…the temple. Offered a yen coin , clapped 2x & prayed as is custom. Walked around & took more pictures than a Japanese of these old style buildings (they were bombed out in WWII and rebuilt after, so not fully authentic). After walked down to riverside park and had sushi picnic on bench and lo & behold…there was a homeless person!

I gave him some sushi & he was like “Ahhh…tank you very much!” It’s rude to eat in front of people with no food so it felt right to share. His smile was golden! After I went to Harajuku,

and again there the next day. Here is supposed to be a more hip area. There were a few street vendor artists selling on the streets that I talked to…I think that makes a ‘hip’ town if there is original art & vendors that are allowed to sell without getting hassled. 2nd day I came back to see the Emperor’s shrine & temple park area which was another nice rebuilt old style temple grounds that has been occupied & a place to pray since around the year 600 AD I think.

When leaving Japan at Tokyo Narita airport the Japan Airlines check-in employee asked “Do you have anything fragile inside?”

I replied, “Yes, my heart!”

India #2 :: September-November 2007

Varanasi/Dharamsala/Rishikesh/Haridwar


Buddha's birthplace, Lumbini Nepal on my overland trip south to India
On my way south to India by bus from Kathmandu, I spent 2 days at Buddha's birthplace, Lumbini, Nepal. about a dozen buddhist monasteries & temples from various cultures celebrating Buddhahood! This tree & pool is about 50 metres from the exact birthplace of Mr. Buddha!

India trip #2 ::

1) Varanasi – the oldest living city in the world where the big holy river Ganges flows & flows while dead bodies burn & lives yurn as this timeless sequence turns & turns. building & temples decay as young children play where the past has not yet met the future. many still living the old ways. took a few boat rides at dawn to witness the burnings & puja rituals

where the big holy river Ganges flows & flows while dead bodies burn & lives yurn as this timeless
tibetan buddhists protest march in dharmsala about china's new absurd law
tibetan buddhists protest march in dharmsala about china's new absurd law
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of prayer, music, candles & much devotion (they do this everyday in places along the Ganga like here, Rishikesh, Haridwar & actually most people in India do a little puja offering daily). I had no intention of buying silk but after they showed me the beautiful scarfs & fabric I had no choice. Maybe they hypnotized me? Good salespeople! “Just come look, you don’t have to buy!”. They got me!

Only 2 days here but worth the visit to see a city where people believe that if they die here, they will be liberated from rebirth, moksha, mukti, liberation at last. Guess that’s why it’s so crowded!

anandamayi ashram in haridwar with 10 swamis leading meditation & talks
anandamayi ashram in haridwar with 10 swamis leading meditation & talks
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2) Dharamsala #2 – back full circle to where I started a year ago. 2 more weeks here (2 months total now). Volunteer at Rogpa Tibetan daycare an amazing & fun experience! Found a Tibetan 2 year old boy & his mom that I will sponsor (actually Tibetans don’t want handouts & value their independence so I will sponsor the mothers paychecks for new craft center job being created instead of just giving $). Good times visiting friend Sivadas & his yoga sangha gals, dinner at Korean restaurant 2x with fun groups, more yoga with Sivadas, a nice room I rented from him with balcony for hammock (oh yeah!), meeting Japanese friend Risa & hiking to Triund & overnight there again…beautiful mountainside!

one of my favorite india pics
one of my favorite india pics
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Tibetan protest rally march 2 km to Dharamsala with about 800-1000 people to protest Chinese dictating rules for their Tibetan Buddhism religion. And more good Tibetan food!

Momo’s & Thukpa soup, oh my!

3) Rishikesh #2 – came back with sole , soul purpose of studying serious yoga 2 month intensive at Trika school. Intense it was! 200 hours of yoga in 2 months, most don’t do in a year. More than physical yoga, this school taught us the full path of yoga with kriyas (cleansing techniques), dhautis, bhandas, mudras, meditation initiation using mantra (silent mantra internally chanting), macrobiotic diet, tantric sex, energy yin/yang polarity, health, healing, etc…

93 year old french man who has been at anandamayi's ashram for over 35 years!
93 year old french man who has been at anandamayi's ashram for over 35 years!
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Never a dull moment! This school has 50+ month program in Thailand on tropical island that I will get teachers training in 3 month program & perhaps visit periodically/annually for more. Finally found my mystery school! You cannot find this information systematically given with group practice, lectures & papers daily to keep you on the path to self-discovery. www.AgamaYoga.com

4) Haridwar – Anandamayi Ashram , 4 days/nights at yogaashram nearby. came at right time, 7 day discourse retreat with 10 swami masters leading meditation & teachings, kirtan & bhajans & pujas daily. Good timing! Feel the energy is very high here! Guess meditating all day

1000 year old book in Tibetan Library archives Dharamsala
1000 year old book in Tibetan Library archives Dharamsala

Kathmandoo-doo :: volunteering, trekking & life in Nepal

Yeti Airlines (yeti is an asian sasquatch that many people have seen in the Himalayas)
Yeti Airlines (yeti is an asian sasquatch that many people have seen in the Himalayas)

I was in Nepal for 6 weeks, 4 of those volunteering, another 2 weeks trekking in the Tibetan regions of north Nepal's Himalayan area called Annapurna Conservation Area.

I began like this:

While planning an escape from my expensive 4 months in Europe I decided to come to Nepal and volunteer before going back to India for yoga school. I found INFO Nepal (www.infonepal.org) by looking on the internet and chose them because I liked the colors of their webpage (really!), well…also they had a quick same-day reply back to me and good communication!

wild Kathmandu streets of Thamel, notice Yeti Health & Massage!
wild Kathmandu streets of Thamel, notice Yeti Health & Massage!
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I arrived in Kathmandu July 13th, 2007 and was happily greeted at the airport by INFO Nepal staff and over the next 5 days taken sightseeing, out for dinner, and received five days of very helpful Nepali language lessons as well. While in Kathmandu I was also greeted by Nepal's ferocious rainy daily gauranteed monsoon weather. It was something i unfortunately overlooked before coming here, but oh well at least i've avoided the hordes of tourists that show up in September-December! Some of the sights our group visited are the legendary so-called Monkey Temple (due to all the monkeys hanging out), real name Swayambhunath which is a holy Buddhist stupa where big Buddha himself is said to have spent time at (this is his neighborhood ya know...from birthplace in Lumbini, Nepal to Bodhgaya, India to Kathmandu he roamed). Back then the enlightened masters could only walk to reach new people & areas to spread their message. Nowadays, we have living saints such as Dalai Lama & Amma traveling the corners of the world sharing their wisdom & transformational energy, but perhaps as they say, most real gurus choose to stay out of the public and live unknown secluded lifes as hermits with a few students. This Swayambhunath temple on top of a big hill is also a holy Hindu site and is interesting for the convergence of both religions. Legend says that this whole Kathmandu Valley was a big flooded water basin , with this holy mountain just having one lotus on top and covered by water until some god (i forget which one?) made the area dry out & declared this the holiest spot. Another holy holy site we went to is Pratishapath, which is like a mini-Varanasi version of burning bodies in ghats on another dirty river. Unfornately foreigners could not go inside the temples at both of these places so we were limited to walking around and seeing everything from limited views. Another sightseeing must see our volunteer group visited was Durbar Square, the old Kathmandu center of temples & royal buildings built in various centuries, many big paghoda style-red, brown, & black with intricate wood carvings. Finally we went to Boudhanath stupa, a mecca for Buddhist, especially Tibetan Buddhists and Tibetan refugees. Huge stupa (white circular temple which symbolizes the 5 elements and is said to be very helpful for prayer as it contains inside the relics of their highest lamas & 1000's of prayers, a kind of time capsule for praying). The stupa is surrounded by the new religion of materialism-lots of Tibetan shops circling the area selling Tibetan crafts, bells, clothes, and the likes. I bought an umbrella, cause it was dumping down heaps of rain that could make you go insane!

My host family, Tikaram & some of his 5 children.
My host family, Tikaram & some of his 5 children.
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Kathmandoo-doo, as I have renamed it, is one very interesting ancient city. It is a cross-cultural crossroads of many ethnicities such as Tibetans, Tamang, Gorkhas (famous for their joining British army and being fierce warriors), Newari & dozens of others all mingling in this true melting pot where Tibet, China & India converge & form Nepal. Walking around the streets you cannot help but get a feeling that this place is an absolute madhouse! Swarms of local taxi hounds approach you offering their cars, bicycle rickshaws & others offering you "hash, mr....you smoke, want buy tiger balm?" At first it's not so bad, but after India (which is worse for this constant pestering & desperation) and after many weeks ...it gets very old & becomes difficult not to react in rudeness to their intrusions of space. But one must realize, it is coming from a desperate economy & not their faults they have been raised into this rudeness. Another thing i discovered is that congested traffic makes congested lungs! Respiratory tract infection (which 25% of travelers get) is common due to the clouds of black smoke coming from nearly every car, bus, truck & motorcycle. You need a mask here, maybe even a gas mask! The noise pollution is very bad too-honk, honk, honking becomes the normal sound of daily grinds as you wind around the many roads of Nepal & India. Its because the population is so high here, density of metropolis life causes the urge to honk somebody off the road. We westerners think its rude & uncalled for, but it is actually necessary to keep people out of the way when taxiing through narrow streets-don't wanna run over any feets! While walking around here you can see signs such as "Yeti Airlines", and "Yeti Health &

Sirjana Secondary School, where i volunteered for 2 weeks, very disciplined here, but not in class!
Sirjana Secondary School, where i volunteered for 2 weeks, very disciplined here, but not in class!
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Massage" (see photos) proving that the legend of the Yeti lives on (the

yeti is a type of sasquatch ape man spotted many times in the mountains

of these lands). You see, this is a very mysterious place full of

ancient secrets, myths, legends & lore. Some make-believe, some

i think pink is in! the female teachers at Sirjana school.
i think pink is in! the female teachers at Sirjana school.
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true & others left unknown to the mystery of this universe. It is common to come across little shops with tables of fresh animal kills for sale, such as big pig & goat heads, huge blobs of bloody unidentified meats, and other flesh for sale. very strange to see on the road with all the dust & garbage piles nearby! would anybody really want to eat this? you are what ya eat! anyhow, those garbage piles were everywhere in Kathmandoo-doo! And piles of doo-doo too, hence the new city name. I read in the papers that there is another protest, this time against picking up the garbage heaps, i believe being led by the agitating Maoist party (communist dedicated to turning Nepal into the ideals of Mao, Lenin & some new ideas). This has caused some eye diseases & other sicknesses to spread around the city!

my trekking guide, Naresh, in the Tibetan Plateau desert region of north Nepal.  we wanted to take helicopter back, but walked 13 days instead!
my trekking guide, Naresh, in the Tibetan Plateau desert region of north Nepal. we wanted to take helicopter back, but walked 13 days instead!
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I saw a few people that had the puffed up red eyes and one told me his doctor said this was caused by the garbage problem. They have no trash bins on the streets here, just the ole pile method...which isn't working! I hope things change here soon as these people deserve a government that funds good city infrastructure, which would include not only garbage bins & trucks, but fixing all these potholed roads, & banning the mixture of kerosene into gas that is causing the black smoke from vehicles! So, you take 2 million + people and add all these factors and you get the dark side of Kathmandoo-doo. On the bright side, it is an exciting place with many good restaurants serving international food for pennies, live local bands playing tunes 7 days a week, & a people that are genuinely good-natured and glad to have you here.

Om Mani Padme Hum Tibetan buddhist mantra carved on rock next to some guy.
Om Mani Padme Hum Tibetan buddhist mantra carved on rock next to some guy.
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After 5 days of this sightseeing, eating, and many language lessons we went to a village and each stayed in a seperate house with host-family. Going to Dhulikel for 2 days immersed me into village life and was a great experience in itself. My placement in Naudanda was an amazing experience as well. I taught English to 3-4 classes each day (breaks in between) at Sirjana Secondary School, located about 1 hour northwest from Pokhara near the trailheads famous for trekking.

I stayed for 2 weeks with the principal of the school, Tikaram, and his big

the reward view after 3 days in hot deserts, 5 days in rainy jungle mountains, woo-laa...the 20,000 ft + ranges emerge from the clouds!
the reward view after 3 days in hot deserts, 5 days in rainy jungle mountains, woo-laa...the 20,000 ft + ranges emerge from the clouds!
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family of 4 daugters (ages 7, 9, 13, 15) and one son Pratik (1.5 yrs old….finally had a son on the last try!!!). And what a sweet boy with a radiant smile and great little laugh he has. I was instantly his big-brother ("dai" in Nepali) and made part of the family! Tikaram is probably middle-class for Nepal as he owns his own 3 storey home with a store on the bottom, rooms for his family (and my own room) on 2nd floor, and the top floor is rented out to a family. They have a tv with satellite so many English channels such as HBO, Cinemax, CNN, etc for relaxing after a day at the school. I was here during the heavy rainy monsoon season of July and August so literally there was not much else to do then (unless you like hiking in mud with leeches on the steep slippery hills nearby). Bring lots of books!

Kathmandoo-doo shop altar of masks, crystals...
Kathmandoo-doo shop altar of masks, crystals...
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Everyday I would usually get up around 7am and read, yoga, meditate until 8am or so, then the tv room was available. At 9am I would eat breakfast with Tikaram, and as a traditional Nepali family that means dhal bhat only, everyday, morning and evening. (I really love my western breakfast so I brought bags of mueslix and ate that with milk or curd, and dhal bhat for lunch and dinner…so still eating it twice a day!).

After breakfast we drove his motorcycle (almost everyday raining) 30 minutes up some mountain roads and one backroad to the remotely located little school. I found the teachers to be all very likeable, friendly, and socialable people! The kids were extremely excited to have me there and every class I entered was with a standing greeting they are taught to say to respect the teachers. They were pretty well behaved, most of the time! The class sizes ranged from 8 to 58 kids per class (the biggest being when a few teachers were sick and I took over a combined class…bring a megaphone for that loud chaos!). I generally used the books that they use for my teaching method, but always made time for some new games or other methods that would be kind of spontaneous.

wonderful Tibetan monks in Kathmandu that i taught english to before leaving to India.
wonderful Tibetan monks in Kathmandu that i taught english to before leaving to India.
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They love games…that's for sure! I brought stickers to give out to the winning teams, which they really loved. I also helped begin to organize methods for learning typing using their low-fi computers and typing educational software. I encouraged them that this was a very useful important tool for living in these current times. I showed off my fast skills and the fact that you don’t have to look at your hands and "hunt and peck" each letter, and thereby encouraged them that they too can type this fast in 6 to 9 months of serious practice. Before this computer class (which an older German man is doing 3 days a week) it was just chaos and 'messing around' each day. I felt this was as important as learning good English, to type is to communicate faster, save time, and perhaps secure a job with a little more income. Also not just learning English typing , but Nepali. Of course, only 3 of their 9 computers had these typing software, but soon they will have on all. My gift to the school (which by the way you will be expected and a little pressured by Tikaram and staff to give) was a few educational cd-roms. My last day their I found out that the government just approved to have the school rebuilt beginning December 2007, so that is very very good news as many rooms were leaking rain, very dirty and this will be a major improvement!

And remember what Ghandi said…"Be the change in the world you want to see" (was that Ghandi? Did I get that quote right? Anyway…)

13 days trekking in the Annapurna Conservation Area, half of the legendary trek called the 'Annapurna Circuit". I chose to fly from Pokhara in a small plane for 25 minutes to Jomsom village in the desert Tibetan plateau regions of north north Nepal (about 25 km from Tibet border). This region, and many other north areas of India & Nepal are full of Tibetan culture, some refugees, but many have inhabited these lands for centuries if not day one. With my hired guide, 20 year old Naresh, we walked through the ancient village & into dry canyons along the Kali Gadhaki river a few hours to Kagbeni, where we got room & called it a day. Next morning we hiked 4 hard hours or so up the desert hills (no trees here!) to the holy hindu & buddhist temple & village of Muktinath. Here little purple flames come out of the earth & water & are seen as an act of Shiva, & worshipped as such. We walked here, then past the "Bob Marley Lodge" back to our guesthouse for a 2nd night stay. We continued on for 3 days of this desert heat & sun, with a view teasing views of the big snowy peaks beyond, followed by 6 days of grey & rainy jungle mountain trekking with no views of the major HImalayan ranges that hid beneath the clouds! Until...Ghorepani & Gundruk village our 11th, 12th & 13th day...we were finally blessed with the vision of these 20,000+ feet monster mountains! Meeting other trekkers along the way and sharing traveling stories, playing cards, & reading lots of books made this trip a relaxing and interesting adventure.

On the 6 hour drive back on the "tourist" bus from Pokhara to Kathmandu we winded and grinded through many mountains, over many rivers (both using bridges and for the smaller ones just going for it!), and finally got back to stinky Kathmandoo-doo. Here I saw a lady on the outskirts of town along the highway (many of these shacks, homes, little shops just live the noisest life along these roads...not ideal). She was sitting down and had her baby getting milk from her breast in one hand, and puffing on a cigarette with the other. I couldnt believe what I was seeing. That was a first! wish i got a picture..

Outside the Indian Embassy, as I anticipated my return to Mother India (a place I both love & despise), I overheard a young western traveler explaining "the army makes you crazy. The catch-22 is you can get out of it by becoming or pretending to be crazy." Many Israeli travelers know this as they are all required to do service in their army & many travel to escape or recupperate. I talked with one beautiful brunette young Israeli lady for awhile while waiting in line. She lives in a kibbutz. I have just finished reading "Exodus" by Leon Uris and am really fascinated with the history of Jewish people & the forming of Israel as they reclaimed their original lands. Very very interesting & I hope to visit their someday. She told me that Israeli's now only get 2 months after their first 6 months for Indian visas as so many have set up homes in India & overstay their time. Most citizens can go 6 months, leave to Nepal, and return 6 months. US citizens can stay 10 years if they apply for special visa. I only want to return for 3 months maximum. The plan...10 hours south first to Lumbini, Nepal to see Buddha's birthplace, then 10 more hours south to Varanasi. The oldest living city and holiest of holy places in Hindu culture. The center of the universe where Shiva was born according to ancient Hindu texts. 1,700 years or more before Jesus walked the earth people mingled here. It has been destroyed by the Mughal invasion ,but the spirit is unconquerable. They say if you die here, you will not be reborn and instead go to HIndu heaven. THat is why they cremate the dead on their holiest of holy rivers, the Ganges, which is also the dirtiest of dirtiest!

After a day or two only in big, dirty, holy Varanasi i aim to get back to Dharamsala/McLeod Ganj, where i began this long journey last October. I want to spend 2 weeks there seeing Dalai Lama again, visiting Indian & Tibetan friends, practicing more massage (and receiving by being model!), and find a tibetan child to sponsor ($30 month means a life to them! i finally decided to go for it, as i know the Tibetans Children Village is honest & uses 100% $ wisely). Around Sept 20th i will return to Rishikesh for 2 months of intensive yoga at the awesome Trika yoga school (where i studied last November). My grand plan for returning to North America is to fly to Miami and meet my dad and drive across country for our 10th time together (the 1st time when i was 6 months old and these trips are what got me addicted to traveling!). For his 60th birthday present we may go to the Carribean or Hawaii for a few weeks before I return to the lovely but rainy pacific northwest & home in beautiful British Columbia. But...that's then, and this is NOW! One day at a time....

I truly hope that all of YOU, my friends & family, are enjoying your lives, finding meaning, living fully, experiencing good relationships, challenging yourselves to grow & doing what makes you blossom. I look forward to seeing you again upon return to the New World! I am truly excited, after 13 months & 3 more of being a nomad, to settle down again and have a room to call my own, a music studio instead of just my laptop, my old social work jobs and perhaps new one, and music events-community-etc..

But for now...off on another adventure!