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"I'll find my way home while exploring the galaxy"

Day 126: Namaste India, Ahoy Bali!

This past week, I had a dream a monkey bowed to me in Namaste (“bow to the divinity in you”).

I realized I loved monkeys, but dreaming about them was a new level.

Ashram baba treating a languor to some biscuits. Naturally, I had to stop and watch.

Ashram baba treating a languor to some biscuits. Naturally, I had to stop and watch.

Maybe the sadness of leaving Rishikesh was kicking in, and my love for the animals had found some new expression. I had no idea I would be as sad to leave the cows and monkeys behind, let alone all the human friends I made amazing connections with. Rishikesh, while a bubble in many ways (and an incredibly supportive and healing bubble during the turbulence of the election), turned out to be the most surprising and heartwarming home I could have asked for. Not to mention, the majestic Himalayan Mountains that held a sacred and homely container of peace, solidarity and grace.

I brought my Tascam out in the last few hours before leaving to capture some ramblings and words of gratitude for Her:

Also, since arriving in Rishikesh and meeting yogis in training, I’ve always wondered what post-yoga-teacher-training would be like, going from one extreme way of living to another. It was definitely a moment of release and freedom, bringing great appreciation for not having a job or responsibility to go home to. I was surprised to learn how many people from the program were also unemployed and journeying onwards on a one-way adventure through Asia. Others (not so envious of) were heading back home to cold winter climates to full time jobs…god bless them. The transition of processing all that was learned during the program was now taking its natural course, and I couldn’t have asked for anything better than to have total unconditional freedom.

Not to be confused with the freedom of the babas, which is based on zero attachment to worldly materialism...

Not to be confused with the freedom of the babas, which is based on zero attachment to worldly materialism...

My senses were sharpened in new ways, and my attention to presence fine-tuned. It got to a point where all the energy I put into planning a last-week-in-Rishikesh-bucket-list fizzled out. Planning was pointless, intentions were everything – I found myself going with the flow even though I wasn’t able to hit up all my favorite spots. Somehow, the final week was perfect just the way it was. Also, random injection, but I bumped into a friend that I met in Thailand two Novembers ago right outside Laxman Jhula bridge whilst monkey watching…what?!

It was beautiful to just take it all in, enjoying my home away from home and seeing how much it transformed from the time I first arrived – in the weather (super short winter) and energy. As tourist season was beginning to pick up, energy was pouring in from all corners of the world, with people hailing especially from Brazil and China. It was really cool to see my two cultures interacting separately and together, culminating in this one powerful image of experiencing Prem Baba give his first saatsang (wisdom talk), and offer blessings to a giant group from China. A famous guru from Brazil, Prem Baba makes a pilgrimage to India every year and attracts spiritual seekers from all around the world (and not just for his stylish spiritually charged beard).

Casual interview on the streets of Rishikesh with our friends Anouchka and Alexey

Casual interview on the streets of Rishikesh with our friends Anouchka and Alexey

Baby cow and mama taking a nighttime stroll through one of my favorite paths in Tapovan

Baby cow and mama taking a nighttime stroll through one of my favorite paths in Tapovan

Nightly puja on the Ganga 

Nightly puja on the Ganga 

Considering I have a ten-year visa to India, I know I’ll be back one day. For now though, loads of gratitude go out to my community in Rishikesh with special shouts outs to my favorite peeps and places:

Dr Harsh and Arti – Tapovan’s loveliest landlords

Anouchka – coolest lady and most loving friend, who happens to be manifesting her dreams and opening up a healing center this month!

Kalpana (Himalayan Little Spa) - your healing hands are a gift to Rishikesh 

Pure Soul – your delicious food saved my life

Free Spirit Café – your Spanish speaking ways and reliable Wifi made me very happy

Tavola Con Te - never had a more divine pizza and tiramisu combo  

Ramana’s Garden – I counted down the days to Saturday movie and pizza night. Also, best salad dressing and cheese cake in all of town

Ganga Beach – your music playlists were the best in all of Rishikesh

Last view of the Ganga sunset 

Last view of the Ganga sunset 

Prashant – you taught me the ways of “you have no choice” in hardcore training for Ashtanga

Tattvaa Yogashala – gave me a new yoga practice that I can take wherever I go. What more can I say?

German Bakery – you make a killer cappuccino and inspired my new daily ritual, Surya Namaskar C (saluting the sun while drinking a delicious cup)

Our friend who hooked us up with caffeine on the daily during yoga training. 

Our friend who hooked us up with caffeine on the daily during yoga training. 

You notice the theme of food here?

One of my favorite peeps from yoga teacher training, Dimitrius :)

One of my favorite peeps from yoga teacher training, Dimitrius :)

Final friend selfie before taking off to Delhi

Final friend selfie before taking off to Delhi

En route to the airport in Delhi, driving through a giant mass of birds (possible foreshadowing of what's to come in Bali?)

En route to the airport in Delhi, driving through a giant mass of birds (possible foreshadowing of what's to come in Bali?)

And just like that, we set off to Bali. Crazily enough, an earthquake hit India that same day, and we were lucky to have escaped it that same day! However, the earthquake energy must have followed us to Kuala Lampur because we almost were not allowed to board our flight from there to Denpasar, Bali. Apparently, Malindo Air is charged a fee for letting foreigners in without an exit ticket (which we did not buy in advance). In the 20 minutes before the plane took off, we were able to weasel out tickets on skimpy airport Wifi on the Malaysian airline lady’s phone – most stressful 20 minutes ever, let me tell you. Lesson: always buy an exit ticket out, immigration ain’t playing games.

The stress faded quickly upon arrival in Bali. The friendliness of the people could be felt immediately, and they didn’t even ask us once what our exit plan was. So much for all that stress back in Malaysia! We will have to arrange a few trips to the immigration office to extend our tourist visa, but from the very brief looks of Bali, it seems worth every dollar, minute and effort.

Oh my god! A BATHTUB

Oh my god! A BATHTUB

Scoping out our sweet outdoor bathroom. No better way to arrive to Bali than to an outdoor bathroom.

Scoping out our sweet outdoor bathroom. No better way to arrive to Bali than to an outdoor bathroom.

Much much more to make sense of over the next two months, but here are some super quick observations of Ubud that were so obviously different than India, for better or worse…

…Balinese = friendliness to the MAX, so much smiling it’s crazy :)

…organized streets for organized driving and barely ANY honking, am I dreaming?

Seeeee....I'm standing on a sidewalk, NOT about to get hit by a car!

Seeeee....I'm standing on a sidewalk, NOT about to get hit by a car!

…no spelling errors on signs.

…no cows or cow dung on the streets, sigh.

…sidewalks are a thing here!

…restaurants use computers to ring up bills, aka no confusion or paper waste at check out – that’s what I’m talking about.

…smoked duck served on a Hindu island? 

…homestays overrule hostels, but are not actual experiences staying with families; rather, super cozy rooms with balconies and terraces overlooking jungle and rice paddie landscapes. No big deal.

…the volume of cute artisanal shops and boutiques are out of control – is this the equivalent to first impressions of Williamsburg, Brooklyn?

Everything is all about the monkeys in this town. Came to the right place...

Everything is all about the monkeys in this town. Came to the right place...

…land of not having to carry toilet paper around with you, haven’t spotted one unclean bathroom or squatty potty. Hallelujah!

…1 US dollar = 13,000 rupiah, taking mental math to new heights

…wifi is actually something that exists here most of the time = luxury

…fruit and flowers offerings tucked decoratively inside bananas leaves are placed all around the city, outside of shops and temples. Looks like someone’s motorbike was blessed with a bundle of chubby looking bananas.

...and i haven't experienced ONE power outage yet - electricity 24/7 whenever you want it! 

Oh, the little things.

Walking past the Monkey Sanctuary and spotted a friendship forming...

Walking past the Monkey Sanctuary and spotted a friendship forming...

Huge coconuts all around town for less than $2 #heaven

Huge coconuts all around town for less than $2 #heaven

First Balinese meal after a long day of travel! Presentation is everything here.

First Balinese meal after a long day of travel! Presentation is everything here.

Doing yoga poolside at the fancy spot next to our hostel. Post savasana face.

Doing yoga poolside at the fancy spot next to our hostel. Post savasana face.

And apparently no one seems to think I am Chinese, rather Indonesian or something Southeast Asian, maybe for the tan and big smile combo? Sure, why not :)

Tiffany Wen