1 October 2016

Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving

Things are about to get personal. Even more so than before. If you're not into that kind of stuff, I suggest you stop reading now.

I've been struggling with the decision to stay or to go ever since I've been back in Berlin. The funny thing is, that I think I was never here to begin with. I was in Afraidland. I was afraid to stay. Afraid, that I wouldn't make it. That I wouldn't find enough stamina to pursue my caking/baking passion. That I wouldn't stick with anything long enough to make it work or last. Long enough for it to make me stay. I was looking for an anchor. Something to keep me here. Or someone. I didn't find it.

Here, the insecurities start descending again. Here I forget how to listen to my inner voice and I let my thoughts run the show. Here, staying in balance requires much more work than on the road. Here I start feeling small, insecure, doubtful, worried. I lack structure but I'm afraid to build one. A friend wrote a long, soul exposing Facebook post, where he said: "Suddenly without structure and support all my anxieties return... ". He was talking about workshops, but it sums it all up so well. I lack structure and I don't use the support system I have, with some exceptions. I don't really want to talk about my imaginary problems with my friends, since I don't like to whine about nothing. In my head I often refer to myself as "the girl who got it all and went crazy"... But since these things are occupying such a big chunk of my thoughts, they have a tendency of slipping out like lentils out of a sieve that's not fine enough. So I start to dread meeting people, or close up or find it difficult to speak even when I am with someone. And then I spend more time alone. Which makes things worse. A fine vicious cycle!

Life is a big workshop, I know, but it does help to have more structured sessions to deal with our shit. I've noticed that it is so much easier to open up and to peel away these ego protections when you have that support of a group, those strangers that are in the same structure. Everyone going through their own shit but sharing the structure nonetheless, so that you are on the same page with what kind of things might and will be stirred up. And in those workshops it's ok and encouraged to be as vulnerable and open as possible, which also makes it collectively easier. But the moment that structure is gone, all the old anxieties and fears and insecurities start creeping in. When the experience high, also known as the "I was so open and authentic me and it felt fucking amazing" high starts to wear off. sooner or later they will emerge in some shape or size. I do believe, that in every workshop or ashram trip or festival or whatever mindfulness self exploration soul tripping thing we happen to do does take us in the right direction: to know ourselves more and to give us new tools and new insight. But sometimes it can just end up being tripping and sailing from one experience high to the next without actually integrating in between. That's what I'm worried I'm doing. I'm worried that I'm so hooked on this high, this ultimate love and excitement high: excitement about new experiences and level ups, love towards myself, the universe, a certain someone or many someones, or all that in combination. And that's a pretty powerful drug right there: the feeling that the happiness and balance was actually found from within. It's a powerful fucking drug.

Of course I also feel in balance and happy and blissful without structures. I'd like to say most of the time, but I'll settle for "often", which is sliding into "occasionally" the more anxious about the future I get. Spontaneous random gushes of love are always wonderful. But the longer time there is between these experiences, these moments of clarity and self love, the deeper the mud gets. The anxiety and doubt monsters descend. I desperately try to find something to cling on to, something to give me courage to stay somewhere, to commit myself to something. And when I don't find it, I leave. I'm a lover of leaving, like Rumi so well put it.

So now I'm leaving again. I'm joining a nomad horse caravan in Guatemala. And I'm scared shitless I'm doing it because I'm a sissy coward who's afraid to commit to anything and who's just chasing the next rush, the next experience, the next high. But I'm still going, and those are fearthoughts that are not true. I know this is not "escaping the future into an endless holiday" (even though I do believe the fearthoughts quite often), but there are things I actually want to learn, mainly Spanish and living and travelling as a part of a community. The ache that comes from the lack of a tribe, of a community to belong to, is sometimes disturbingly painful. I know this will only be a temporary fix for that, or maybe I won't feel like I belong in this particular group at all, but at least I will have tried, I will have given myself the chance to learn how to live and function in a community, how to communicate and how to resolve conflicts (a skill which I desperately want to get better at). And deep down I know there's no right or wrong choice here. By going I'll gain something wonderful. And also by staying I would gain something wonderful. But when I'm on the move, there isn't this amount of existential angst and lack of purpose. Then my purpose is to travel, to get more in touch with myself, to stay in the moment. Here, I have no purpose. I'm a jobless hippie who's stuck in a mire of imaginary problems. And who's being way too hard on herself. So I'll go.

Often I also think whether I'd like to redo my blue/red pill choice. I'm pretty sure I'd still take the pill of self-and consciousness development. But boy is it a hard road and feels damn lonely sometimes. I'm still confident there is a more lasting balance to be found. And I know it won't be in workshops but in "real life", whatever that is. The workshops help, but they are tools. But damn easy tools to get hooked on. I'm trying to find that balance and I will get there. Or I am there already, actually. I've just forgotten I am. But I will remember.

27 June 2016

Osho Tapoban – Meditation and a horde of monkeys

The last stop on my journey before returning to Europe was a 21 day meditation retreat on the Nagarjuna hills, on the outskirts of Kathmandu. The place is called Osho Tapoban, and they offer week-long retreats, 3 week packages or just a regular meditation schedule which anyone can attend to for as long as they want to. I signed up for 1 week of vipassana, which means silent sitting meditation, followed by two "normal" weeks and an almost week of "no mind" programme (more of that later) before my flight to Finland on the 6th of June.

Meditation hall

I'd really been looking forward to the retreat, but of course things weren't that simple. I had quite a lot of resistance still, mainly to the fact that we had to buy robes for the meditation, one maroon for the daytime sessions and one white for the evening satsang (which I ended up using maybe 4 times, since my mind often convinced me that after a full day of meditation, a couple of episodes of Agents of SHIELD would be a better idea than to listen to Osho videos). The cheapest ones didn't cost that much, but in principle I have a problem with the fact that I had to buy an outfit to be able to attend something. It does have a unifying aspect to it and I got used to wearing mine pretty quickly (plus having to wash the damn thing was a good excuse for not attending some sessions I didn't feel like going to ;)) so it was all ok in the end, though.

Vipassana is all about getting still: sitting in silence and being the observer. In the beginning it's easiest to start by observing your body, not giving in to the mind's impulses of moving this part or that, or scratching an itch. And learning to disregard the creeping discomfort which starts inevitably at some point during the 1 hour sessions (if you don't choose to sit on a chair which was also an option, but I found it too easy to nod off on a chair, so I tried to stick to the cross-legged posture). After that we move on to observing the breath, coming in and going out. And after that, we try to catch the thoughts as they emerge, and observe them. The point isn't to stop the thoughts, but just stay the observer and not get carried away by them. But getting carried away is also fine, it's all a matter of learning and practicing. And it does get easier: I had some wonderful calm periods when there were either no thoughts or I could spot them when they started and move my attention back to watching my breath straight away. Yay!

I also chose to be in silence during vipassana week, which is the "normal" way to go when doing vipassana, but there in the centre I think there were only 2 people who actually did it, myself included. I also gave up internet for that time, which was a challenge, especially in the beginning when my mind was going "AAAARGH WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE, THIS ISN'T WHAT I WANT" and trying to convince me to spend the last days of this leg of the trip by indulging in something "fun" instead of sitting on my ass and observing the movements of my mind. There was even a bird whose call seemed to be "POKHARA, POKHARA" which is a lovely area some 200 km west of Kathmandu, were I could've gone hiking and just being in nature... A tad tricky, trying to concentrate on meditation when there's a real life, feathery reminder outside, trying to persuade me to abandon the meditation ship and swim ashore to the island of earthly delights.

 The mind really doesn't want us shining the light of awareness on it and seeing what it's up to, trying to make us believe all sorts of things that just aren't true. But I persisted. The actual silence in the retreat wasn't as difficult as internet-silence, since most of the residents were locals or indians and spoke mainly Hindi, so there wasn't a danger of me being pressed into joining a conversation. Things got trickier when my friend from Koh Phangan, K, arrived, since of course I wanted to share my experiences and thoughts with her, but I persevered, only cheating with a couple of written notes ;). Her arrival also lessened my isolation, as now I could be around people who were talking in English and even "take part" in conversations, which K was having for me, introducing me to people :D. It was a lot of fun actually, and the first day after I broke my silence was also a cool experience as I actually wanted to talk, which is something I struggle with quite often.

There were a couple of westerners and younger people around as well, so we spent some time hanging out with them, doing some sunset treks and escapes to Thamel. A really nice bunch of people, but for some reason I didn't feel that big of a connection with them (not including my lovely K). Probably it was just me, not really making the effort either, but it felt that more conversations and a deeper connection would have meant more pushing, and I felt quite ok being in my own little bubble, enjoying the solitude, silence and relative emptiness of the mind and concentrating on the meditation (ok, and Agents of SHIELD and food blogs, towards the end ;)).

Osho posse

Sunset walk

The meditations were interesting, especially the dynamic one which always started the morning. It involved 10 minutes of fast, deep breathing to get the energy moving, 10 minutes of letting loose all the madness inside by howling, screaming, shaking, talking gibberish etc., 10 minutes of jumping with arms raised, going "huh" and concentrating on adding onto the life energy in our "hara", our center, located in the lower stomach (according to this branch of belief), then standing still with the arms still raised for 15 minutes and in the end dancing for 15 minutes. A challenging meditation, but a very good one, and good exercise to start the day with. I only held my arms up the whole 15 minutes a couple of times, but I still showed myself that I can do it if I choose to. I don't think anyone actually did the whole 15 minutes... But I did howl and scream like a banshee. Ah, fond memories: screaming like a madman in the middle of Nepalese jungle, wearing a maroon sannyasi (a person dedicated to meditation) robe, surrounded by a bunch of monkeys. What weird places this life takes me to! Gotta love it.

The last week was a therapy week with a program called "No mind", which entailed an hour (!) of the madness-howling/gibberish/whatever your body wanted or needed to express followed by an hour of silent sitting. It was very interesting to see what kinds of stuff came up and let itself be felt and experienced through crying, shouting, punching a pillow or just talking gibberish. An intense 5 days of purification, experiencing sadness and letting it go, moments of pure joy and strength and belief in myself. I highly recommend the experience! And I don't think I've ever screamed at the top of my lungs anywhere. That kind of noise just isn't fit for the modern society we live in. Not even in our summer houses can we actually make as much noise as we want; there are always neighbors around who will complain if you start your days by screaming and shouting all your trapped madness out. I think I could've done it in Karnataka when I was trekking in the jungle as it was pretty deserted, but I didn't have this technique in my repertoire back then. It is very very liberating, let me tell you. Everyone should have a go. But no wonder the Nagarjuna hill monkeys seemed a bit looney, having to listen to that day in and day out :D

Getting to know the neighbors

The monkeys, them I won't miss. They were everywhere: intimidating us into dropping our trays when we were trying to put our leftovers in the trash bin. Snatching our morning bananas. Digging through the garbage and sending the tiny ones for deep-dives in the leftovers bin. Running around on the roofs making a lot of noise and hanging from the power cables. Stealing laundry and shoes. And just generally getting into all sorts of monkey business. I learned that it isn't wise to look a monkey in the eyes, as they tend to take it as a challenge and come at you, hissing. Yes, they hiss. Also eating inside your room with your curtains open isn't a wise move, if you don't want a bunch of monkeys sitting on your window sill, trying to get the window latches open. Yes, we were technically in their forest, but they still creeped the hell out of me. No, they are not cute, no matter what you say to try to convince me. But I managed, and did actually only get touched by one once. And I don't think anyone got bit ;).

So, all in all the meditation experience gave me plenty. It gave me a chance to be kind to myself and not judge myself for not taking part in everything that was on offer. It gave me a chance to observe my mind and get glimpses at the deep stillness that lies beyond all the traffic noise of the thoughts. It gave me a chance to experiment with the amount of social contact I need. And it gave me a chance to get more closely acquainted with a horde of monkeys.

Before leaving Nepal I stayed in Thamel long enough to go drink a ridiculously sugary and delicious coffee frappe, buy last minute souvenirs and do a bungee jump and a canyon swing adventure. Because sometimes a moment appears in a girl's life, when a bungee jump just seems like a necessity. On normal standards it doesn't really seem to make a whole lot of sense: travelling 4 hours on a bus to jump off a 160 m high bridge, have a mediocre lunch and then travel back 4 hours. But normal life is boring and mad people are the most interesting ones, so off I went. Wow, what a thrill! There's really nothing like it (well, before I've tried paragliding and skydiving, which are on the menu next). And no, it doesn't feel anything like flying. It feels like falling like a rock. And you don't really remember that much afterwards for all the adrenaline, so the videos they shoot are quite useful. We also wore a GoPro camera so we could shoot our experience first hand. Very neat, although the prices of the videos weren't that cheap. But hey, the package did include a T-shirt :D. If you're ever in Nepal and in search for some adventure thrills, go check out The Last Resort. They also do white water rafting and canyoning!

The bridge of doom
Does your soul tell you it's a good idea to jump, when you see a view like this?

As I'm writing this, I'm sitting in the flat of one of my best friends since University times and listening to the rain beating on the windowpanes. My time in Finland is almost done, only week to go before I return to Berlin. I've had a wonderful time, gained like 5 kilos with all the yummy stuff I've been ingesting, and will tell you all about it in the next post! Stay tuned :)

27 May 2016

Kathmandu – Happiness, feelgood weather and rubble

My 2 months in the island paradise of Koh Phangan were done and I headed out to new adventures. The next stop would be a 21 day meditation retreat in Nepal, Osho Tapoban. A generous Indian friend thought I might benefit from such a thing and promised to sponsor a retreat, so who was I to say no to such a gift. Osho had been following me around since Arambol and the bhajan circle on the beach, and after reading some of his books I got more and more curious. I wanted to do the retreat in Dharam sala, India, originally, but since I had no desire to either leave Koh Phangan earlier or apply for a new Indian visa, I settled for Nepal.

So, off to Surat Thani, where I almost missed my flight even though I had planned a generous buffer of time between the ferry and flight. The lovely travel agency made me wait for a lift to the airport from the bus station for 1,5 hours even though I continuously pestered them and told them repeatedly that I needed to be there at 11 and not leave at 11 from the bus station. My mood swung between desperation, resignation and acceptance as the bus snailpaced towards the airport, stopped at seemingly all the traffic lights and even made a pause to fill up the tank. The check-in would close at 12 according to the ticket, and as we still had 10 kilometers to go at 11.50, I mentally prepared myself to shed tears (which wouldn't have been difficult in the mental state I was in) and plead my way into the plane. The bus finally reached the airport around 12.10 and I hit the ground running, or more like waddling with all my stuff. And lo and behold, there was no problem. No tears needed, there were still people at the check-in counter, nobody gave a second glance at my completely overweight carry-on bag or my ridiculously big „handbag“. So I checked in Mr. Osprey and then went to the restroom to have a slight meltdown/relief. Another hindrance averted!

Plane change in Kuala Lumpur revealed what I'd been told to expect: a long line of Indian men all pushing and shoving to get into the plane, as if worried that it would take off without them. I felt at home already! India, here we come. Oh wait, I was going to Nepal, not India. You could have fooled me...

After apparently some delay (I wasn't really aware of the time difference, apparently I was going to timezone UTC +5:45. Who knew there were 15 minute timezone borders! Not me.) we landed in Kathmandu, where all the Indian men promptly jumped out of their seats and started opening the overhead lockers the minute the plane touched ground, much to the (somewhat resigned) annoyance of the air hostesses. Busy busy, these Indians. Mr. Osprey arrived, I entered my details into a visa computer system, got a printed slip stating my application had been accepted and proceeded to pay for the visa at the designated counter. Newsflash: Nepal is super easy to get into. You can apply for a visa beforehand but there is no need, as you can get either a 15 day, 30 day or 90 day visa on arrival by using one of the computers and paying the fee. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. So, hello Nepal!

The hotel dude was waiting for me even though we were delayed, and we drove through almost pitch blach and very very quiet Kathmandu to Kathmandu Boutique Hotel. I was a little annoyed I didn't get a room like the pictures in Booking.com, but my room was huge, with two beds, a kitchen table and counters, so I didn't want to complain. I headed out for a late night snack and bought some interesting deep fried potatoes and mushrooms from a street vendor before calling it a night.

The next day was reserved for getting the lay of the land and doing some souvenir shopping. I was staying on the outskirts of the main (only) tourist area, Thamel. I spent the day walking the streets, stopping to eat at places I'd checked on Tripadvisor and just sniffing the (dusty, cough) air. I really like Thamel. Yeah, it's touristy and the shops sell the same same, but it's beautiful same same. Lots of the clothes I drool at on festivals are made in Nepal, so I could've bought half the merchandise that was on sale here. I didn't, since I don't have room in my bags, but boy was I tempted. Such pretty things!

And the people! Unbelievably friendly. And everyone speaks such good English! Imagine that I had to come to Nepal for that. I'd heard that Nepal was very backward and undeveloped, and that is most probably the case in the rural areas, but the capital (or the touristy part of it) really blew me away. Lots of young, well-dressed, beautiful people (not westerners but local looking people). And even in the tourist area and the surrounding older parts of the city where my stroll took me the general vibe was quite laid back despite the bustle of everyday life. People were smiling, the shopkeepers seemed genuinely friendly and not trying to push their wares at all cost and almost not letting you leave the shop like many times in India. I just sensed that people were happy and content, which made quite a difference to the hectic and competitive vibe of India. If India's energy was nervously busy, Nepal was mellow. I felt at ease despite the huge culture shock of being in a city after the peace of Koh Phangan.

And the temperature! After the sweltering heat of Koh Phangan, the cooler air was a very sweet thing indeed. It's hard to describe, but this exact temperature of around 25-28 degrees is such a feelgood temperature for me that it's ridiculous. It reminds me of the perfect summer days in Berlin, where you wake up, go shopping at Boxi for some fresh veggies, have an espresso from the espresso guy basking in the morning sun and then spend the day hanging out with friends, enjoying the balmy (for Europe!) summer weather. The never ending, blissful day that stays warm even when the sun sets, and you feel so alive, like all the amazement and joy of life was concentrated on this one perfect summer day. The air even tasted and felt the same here, somehow, even though I was kind of far away. It really is impossible to describe, but I felt so at home, so at peace, even among all the newness that was Nepal. A unique experience; I've never felt anything like this anywhere except in Europe. Brimming with gratefulness <3

I had 3 days in Kathmandu before the beginning of the retreat, and I used the time to walk around, eat (restaurant reviews follow later) and see some sights. I checked out Durbar Square (got bullied to take a guide which was a mistake), the Boudha Stupa (a huge onion shaped temple) and the Monkey temple, which was one of the most beautiful spots I've ever been at. There's just something deeply appealing about craggly trees adorned with millions of prayer flags and awesome views... I'm not usually one to enjoy temples, but if they are in amazing spots like this one and its namesake Monkey temple in Hampi, then sign me up. If you only have time for one spot to see in Kathmandu, do the Monkey temple. Seriously.

One of the Durbar square temples
Memories of the earthquake
Boudha Stupa
Stairway to heaven (or Monkey temple)
Ok, restaurants. If you're not into foodie business, skip ahead now. I had quite a tight schedule as I wanted to try as many of the highly rated places as I could. The first day I started by having lunch at Gaia Restaurant. Their menu looked really yummy but I wasn't that hungry, so I settled for veggie momos (steamed dumplings) and a fruit smoothie. Super super good! And the place was really cute, tucked away at a back alley, very quiet and beautiful, with the mandatory prayer flags and even a library, so one could spend the day there, easily, grazing through the menu ;).

Momo nomnom
For dinner I headed for an Israeli place OR2K. Very beautiful and the menu is an artwork. Sadly most of the Israeli stuff is always very wheaty, and even though I was in an indulgence mode, I opted for a a veggie sizzler. I hadn't had a sizzler since Hampi and the long wait was rewarded: the veggie patty was really yummy and the accompanying thinly sliced raw veggies wonderfully crisp. But what was even more amazing was the dessert: a chocolate souffle to die for! A bowl of smooth, warm chocolatey goo, topped by a thin crisp cake layer. And vanilla ice cream. One of the most amazing desserts I've had on this trip, for sure. A sure sign that this is indeed a benevolent Universe. I can't sing the praises of that dessert loud enough. Go and eat it, if you're ever in the neighborhood! It's so worth it.

Until I go back for a second helping, you will have to do with a picture of empty plates
Next day I did sightseeing, so lunch was had at Boudha. I went there with a local bus, helped by an amazingly nice local guy who guided me to the right bus among the turbulent mass of vehicles and noise. Local buses are such an amazing way to get to see the real life and even have chats with locals. I sat with a friendly Nepali girl and we traded Facebook details. After arriving at the Stupa (and being somewhat underwhelmed... I mean yeah, it's a huge white onion surrounded by prayer mills and flags, but not my cup of tea) I looked for a place to have lunch. What is my cup of tea, though, are conscious food cafes, and I was amazed to find one, Bliss Raw Cafe, tucked away in the inner courtyard, amid all the touristy same same restaurants. I had their set lunch menu, which was pretty but taste-wise nothing to write home about, but the raw cake I had for dessert really was a jackpot. A coconut goji berry raw cake, the likes of which I've never ever tasted before. I so need to try and recreate that. A wonderful find, this cafe <3 

Since you ask: No, I have no idea what that alien thingie on top of the cake was. I ate it, I didn't die.

Dinner after marvelling the Monkey temple was had at Rosemary's kitchen, another Tripadvisor recommendation. A beautiful place with seating indoors and outdoors at a inner courtyard, which was sadly already full, so I had to settle for a table indoors. The staff was super friendly and attentive, and in no time I had a delicious butter chicken masala and a homemade mint lemonade in front of me. Yummy, but not ├╝berspecial. Dessert: an ok fruit salad. Nothing amazing. But the other, heavier, menu items, like the speciality rosemary chicken sounded really good as well, so maybe next time I'll try something else. They also had all sorts of cakes and yummy sounding desserts, but I was on healthy mode and chose the fruits.

The last day of the Kathmandu stay I went trekking. A guide for the day plus a taxi there and back cost 80 USD, which is apparently quite an ok rate for such a package. I didn't do that much research, but at least one website advertised the same thing for 100 USD, so I don't think I was ripped off. We drove to Changu Narayan and checked out the oldest temple in Nepal and then headed up towards Nagarkot. The weather was cloudy like it is almost all the time now, so close to the monsoon, but the views were still pretty decent. The trek meandered through forest and small villages and it was very interesting to see how basic the living conditions outside the city really are. I'm talking sheet metal and plastic here. And there were Oxfam and Red Cross tents still around, remnants of the earthquake.

Oxfam shelters still very much in use
Red Cross was here
Either I'm in worse physical condition than I thought or the altitude (around 2 km) did its duty, but the 3,5 hour trek was quite demanding. I was huffing and puffing and my muscles screaming as we finally reached Nagarkot. Lunch was had at a cute restaurant called Berg something (a tradtional Nepali daal bhat, which is the equivalent to Indian thali. It wasn't really that good, to be frank.) and then we took our taxi to a nearby viewpoint before heading back to Kathmandu. The only view that was to be had were the milling locals who seemed to be enjoying themselves despite the light drizzle and the fact that there was absolutely nothing to be seen of the view because of the clouds. But I enjoyed seeing the locals have fun :)

Thali Nepali style
The view on the viewpoint consisted of locals

Back in Kathmandu I tried to find a sister restaurant for the Cookie Walla in Arambol as I didn't get to try their over the top desserts in India, but I never found it :(. But I did find the next best thing, one of the cutest restaurants I've been to: Places. I treated myself to a fruit salad with ice cream and a mint lassi. Yum! 

The last supper was had at Green Organic Cafe: a huge portion of grilled veggies and cheese with tomato sauce. Not super amazing, but very good in a basic kind of way, and it was really nice to get some organic veggies for a change. And the paneer type cheese was really nice and salty. Plus they give you a stamp card where you get a stamp for every 500 rupees you spend, and after 3 stamps you get 20 % off your next order. Sweet!

So, that was my Kathmandu! Next stop: meditation in Osho Tapoban. And now for some more photos

More Monkey temple

...and more

Monkey temple monkeys

Dinner and dessert? :P Well, it IS a weed, so makes sense it grows like one...

30 April 2016

Clarity, well-being and healing – My Koh Phangan

Hi there! Long time no post. That's what happens when you stay in one place for a longer time. Especially if you're lived in the same place before. You don't take the camera out nearly as often as in new places, and the magic is experienced mainly internally rather than externally.

My 2 months on the island are almost up, and it's time to take stock. The fact that I really would like to stay tells quite a lot. There is so much here that just makes me love this island more and more each day. The nature is wonderful. The sea is right there, around every corner. The small town feel of Srithanu area, where you see friendly and familiar faces everywhere. The deep, healing energy. The spiritual community with so much to offer, ranging from yoga to workshops to rituals to get-togethers. The food is simply amazing, the Thai as well as the Western, vegetarian/vegan. Even the Indian restaurant is better than many I tried in India. The climate is absolutely perfect (even when the rains are late and the 34 degrees feels like 43). The list could go on and on.

Somehow I just belong here. These past 2 months have brought me so much clarity. Yes, there are still days when things feel foggy and confused, but the stretches of time when my mind is not running the show anymore but letting the real ruler, the inner voice, be heard, are getting longer and longer. There is so much balance, calmness, determination, courage. I just feel good, plain and simple. So, it is starting to look more and more like I might have to return to this island for an even longer period of time than 2 months. This time I went the cafe route: I worked (or volunteered, more like) in a wonderful place called Art Cafe, made brownies, energy balls and ice cream for sale and learned how to make all sorts of different caffein related beverages. I also did tantra workshops, but sadly had not so much time for yoga, although I have a solid personal practice in place. Next time I'll definitely do more yoga, but there is also a really major thought about future plans taking shape. I have sent a clear intention to the Universe now, and will start arranging my life to make it happen: I really want to live here long-term, practicing yoga and making desserts and offering them to caf├ęs and restaurants for sale. That would be a dream come true. So, Universe, let's make it happen, shall we?

Next stop on this leg of the journey will be Nepal, and a 21 day Osho meditation retreat. Then Europe for the summer, and then, who knows. I am at peace with the fact that there is no plan. But I'm pretty sure that plan will involve more travelling, and progress towards making my Koh Phangan baking dream reality. Maybe practice on some markets in Berlin during the summer? Maybe see what Feastos brings? Flow. Trust. That's what my plan is, for now.