Last stop: the best place in the WORLD! <3

Dear readers,

Me getting onto the boat after 3 hours of surfing, just to start off right 🙂
I am so sorry to be such a lacking blogger!
Just so you know, I am back home now and working a fulltime job to replenish my bank accounts. Reconnecting with friends and family is great, having a place of my own to live is strange (seriously, putting stuff in cupboards and on shelves took me a few weeks! I just had stuff on the floor and in my good old backpack), and working in mostly rainy holland is, well, boring. And I miss my puppie!

(left on the beach in Bali, the surf/beach community took care of her and her 2 sisters)
Before I flew home, I had the chance to spend 6 weeks in Indonesia. After the back-to-basics travel style in Burma and a night spent at the airport in Bangkok, arriving in Kuta, Bali was a hectic, crazy touristy and sweaty experience. Prices for hotels were off the charts, but I managed to find a great and cheap hotel near the beach and in the middle of the craziness that is Kuta.

Of course, the first thing I did after finding a hotel was putting on my bikini and boardshorts and heading to the beach to rent a board and get my surf on! It had been a while (last wave: South India, Januari), but the sun, the chilled out vibe and the nice people in the water made this the perfect arrival day. At this time in my travels, I’d gotten used to talking freely to random strangers, and this got me to meet wonderful Irish Nadia in the water on that first day. She’s a diehard surfbabe teaching English in Denpasar, and lived in an appartment in Kuta. She became one of my best friends in Indonesia, together with her local friend Monster, and they helped me out loads showing me the best and cheapest local food places, surfspots and bars.

After a few weeks of surfing twice a day and chilling out on the beach with the crew, I decided it was time for some more adventure. My friend Gigi let me hop on a taxi with her and her friends to Ubud, where I spent some days visiting temples, wandering the streets and mostly eating delicious raw/health foods. Ubud is a very touristy place thanks to Eat, Pray, Love, but the positive effect of that is that there are some insanely gorgeous yoga places (the Yoga Barn), and lush raw/health food cafes (Kafe, Bali Buddha, Little K). My tummy was very happy!Doing yoga for the first time in Indonesia was a great experience. The Yoga Barn hall was set on lush grounds, and had no walls. Why would you put in walls when you’re in Bali anyway!? Here I took my first Vinyasa class, which is what we in the west call Poweryoga. It was challenging and amazing, but because it cost about as much as I had budgeted for a whole day, I couldn’t take any more classes.
After Ubud I went on to take a ferry to Lombok, and arrived in Kuta, Lombok in shock: The difference between the two Kuta’s is unbelievable. Kuta lombok is basically one street, with some huts that sell touristy things and some hotels. You have to rent a bike to even get to an ATM, and the nice surf spots. My first full day here I took my bike to Gerupuk, a beginners surf spot, and took a boat out to the break. What a cool feeling to be surfing from a boat, in waves that are soo perfect compared to Holland/Wales, and even Kuta Bali!
After a few days in the water I met my friend Denise in the surf, and we hung out together for her remainder of time in Indonesia. She’s a diehard surfchick too, and a doctor from Vancouver.
My plan of a few days in Kuta Lombok extended to a lot longer, thanks to her, the surf and the great group of people, an interesting mix of travelers and locals, we had met there. The local kids especially were soo amazing!
After Lombok, me and D went to the Gilis for a few days. Tiny islands where there’s no cars, only bikes and horse carts. We spent time surfing (crazy scary over the very visible coral), snorkling, doing some yoga and chilling out. Denise had to fly back home, and I took a boat back to Bali to reunite with my Kuta crew for my birthday. Interestingly this meant being egged by all my friends, unfortunately in my new dress and limitlessly! (see video http://youtu.be/5BBXh_S2swM). I went out to dinner with Nadia and my gorgeous India sister Lesleigh, who was in Bali for work.


After partying for my birthday, and to say goodbye to Nadia who had to fly back home, I was rather sick of all the mad drunkenness of Kuta. By now I was sure enough of my bike skills to rent one and drive me and my backpack to Canggu, a place about an hour outside of Kuta, where there are some great surf spots, yoga places and a really nice villa where I stayed (with support of my parents as a birthday present, thanks again!). The villa had a pool, was in walking distance of the surf, and I met some more amazing solo travelers there.

The most amazing thing however, were the yoga classes at Desa Seni. After a 15min bike drive through steep hills and rice paddies on crazy bad roads you arrive at an ‘ecovillage resort’ that feels like pure paradise. Another yoga kula with no walls, and an incredibly inspiring Anusara yoga teacher, Tara Judelle.

Again I allowed myself one class because of the high costs, and it felt like perfection. It combined my crazy gymnastic tendencies (thanks to Granddad Kocken) with my love of dance, and interest in spirituality. To find out handstands and wheels (‘bruggetje’ in Dutch) can be part of a challenging and yet spiritually inspiring yoga class was just heaven. At the end of the class, Tara heard of my inability to afford more classes with her, and she invited me to follow her classes as her guest for the rest of the week. Like I said, she’s AMAZING! After my last class with her she told me I can still take classes with her whereever I go in the world, because she’s part of www.yogaglo.com, an online studio where theres an infinite amount of classes in many different styles and with many different teachers.

Flying back to Bangkok and onwards to Holland was a heartbreaking experience. Even though I was happy to see my family and friends again – especially at the airport, so fun! – I was and still am missing Indonesia the most out of all the seven countries I’ve been to on this adventure. Somehow, it combines all the experiences I’ve had in other countries in such a beautiful way. The spirituality and yoga of India, the partying of Southeast Asia, gorgeous nature, surfing and beach heaven, an incredible underwater world (can you say seaturtle?!), combined with a contact with locals that I haven’t had in any other Asian country made for the perfect end to an inspiring adventure into Asia.

This is it, its done, and I’m back, but I’m definately going back. As soon as humanly possible! I hope you have enjoyed my story sharing, and wish you the bravery (and funds) to do a trip yourself. You will not regret it! Feel free to email or comment for advice or questions, I love sharing tips, other people’s advice has helped this trip to be so wonderful.

Lots of love and travelbugs
Rose xx

More photos:

Bali:

Lombok:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150221140002617.307932.701557616&l=5fcb6f5851&type=1

Arrival back in Holland:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150244732692617.313539.701557616&l=ee547eadba&type=1

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Burma

Traveling in Burma, what an adventure.
Getting the visa alone was a challenge, but once the official stuff was figured out, the real adventure could begin.

Travel itself was like it had been in India and Nepal: back to basics, but the prices for it were unfortunately nothing like India: expensive! And unlogically so, as an 8hour very posh busride (a/c, big soft seats) was the same price as a 12 hour, horrible ride on a local bus, with no ac and seats so small they barely fitted half a butt cheek.

Some highlights for me for Burma were the following.
Driving around the Shan hills on the back of a motorbike, learning about the local customs and traditions, and way of life with my amazing guide Thura.

Climbing up the steps to Mandalay Hill, to watch the sunset and chat with some local monks and friends I made along the way.

Visiting the Moustache Brothers comedy show in Mandalay – three brothers who put on a show for tourists (these days, no longer allowed for locals), talking rather explicitly about their country and its events.

A day on a boat at Inle Lake, where everything happens on the water, and ‘walking’ over to your neighbours would have to include a boat (or a swimsuit). Amazing local handicrafts like silk- and lotus weaving, blacksmiths, and many more, were open for tourists to visit and learn about.

Bagan temple heaven: for me, this spot was more inspiring and beautiful than Ankor Wat! Temples everywhere, and easy to get around by bicycle, taxi or horse cart. Amazing sunsets were spent climbing up on (sometimes deserted) old temples, and the last evening actually had a rainbow appear over the biggest two temples. Stunningly beautiful!

Mostly tho, what was beautiful about Burma were the people. They were the kindest I have met in Asia (and the world?), always helpful and friendly to no end. The purity of their culture was also very noticeable, as for example the locals were wearing traditional clothing, and the food was mostly traditional, not many tourist places. This is probably due to the governments closing off of the country to outside influences (see pic with the foreign policy sign).

My time in Burma was incredible, moreso because of the lovely people I met on the way, both locals and travelers. Kim, Hayley, Mattieu, Michael, Tim, Nick, Eleanor, Vii, Kristen – THANK YOU!

Pictures: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150203783687617.302391.701557616&l=b57bd79291

PS: if you have questions about the political situation, please do not reply to this blog but email me instead. I want to be able to go back into this amazing country! Thanks.

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Southeast Asia – finally

Finally, the Southeast Asia update! In Burma, the wordpress site was blocked, and before that, in Bangkok, I hadn’t had time yet to contemplate my adventures there. So, what happened in SEA? To me, it felt like a beautiful party trail. Many people, all doing the same route, all drinking and partying and hooking up while doing so. Nothing wrong with that, but why not stay at home doing it? Some examples of this:

– Utopia (and other) bar(s) in Luang Prabang, Laos: completely focused on westerners, with an Asian twist. Great to hang out at but not very Lao

– Tubing in Vang Vieng! *wow* beautiful river, tubes to float down it, and bars (and slides, ziplines and swings) all along it. So what do people do? They get drunk at the first bar before even hitting the water, reach the third bar max (awesome zipline there) and then take a rikshaw back. No actual need for a tube at all here. Then, the next morning/afternoon, people hang out at one of the many restaurants, where they have a setup of tables with pillows, all facing the big tvs on one side of the cafe where a constant feed of friends or family guy plays, depending on which restaurant you pick. Very sociable and very very Lao.. NOT. Tubing was fun tho!
Pics: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150177421767617.295221.701557616&l=1ce704dafb

– at 4000 islands, Lao, people spend most of their time in one of the more western bars, watching movies at adams or sunbathing at the tiny patches of beach along the Mekong river

– Siem Reap: the ultimate example: Pub Street! many bars, many tourist, many many cheap ass drinks. ‘nough said.

BUT thank god: theres also some culture to be found, and i tried my hardest to find it.

– Taking a slowboat down the mekong for 2 full days, meeting new friends and seeing the country (Laos) from a very different perspective.
Pics: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150179133442617.295717.701557616&l=8898333580

– visiting temples all around, from brand new White temple in thailand (with murals that pictured contemporary things ranging from spiderman to a suggestion that 9/1 happened because of oil) to Ankor Wat, some of the most impressive and interesting jungle-eaten temples in the world.
Pics: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150189615642617.298686.701557616&l=5022dd0a38

– amazingly stunning waterfalls in Luang Prabang, Laos

– Blue lagoons and caves, only a 6km bike ride from the party town of vang vieng. soo worth it!
Pics: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150185677937617.297783.701557616&l=54a1cd29e3

– superfriendly locals everywhere!

What surprised me most about this region, especially after 4 months India/Nepal, was the cleanliness, and the generally more tourist-friendly travel options. Very western, often with great infrastructure, special tourist a/c busses and minibusses, and hotels and restaurants aimed at tourists. That made travel easier, but also less authentic (and more expensive), in my opinion. However, after so long of local busses and sleeper trains, it was very enjoyable!

sorry this took so long to write, burma blog will be up next and ive been in indo about a week now so the bali update will follow soon too!

i arrive back at schiphol on july 10th, looking forward to seeing you all again soon.

love, Rose xx

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Myanmar/Burma..

Just a quick update to say that I’m back in Bangkok after Laos and Angkor Wat (Cambodia), and got my visa and flights sorted today for a 2,5 week trip to Myanmar/Burma.
When I return I will share my thoughts on all the above, and also sort out the picture situation.

Wish me luck! 🙂
xx Rose xx

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culture shock 2.0

So, after my blisterful annapurna trek, I went to Chitwan National Park to volunteer in a small local village for 10 days, teaching the local kids and women english, and helping out 2 Dutch gyno doctors who were there doing free exams and treatment for local women (http://vrouwenvoorvrouwen.nl/?language=UK). I was volunteering for http://www.angelnepal.nl/, see the Rhino project link. Volunteering means you also eat, live and sleep with a local family, which was interesting. Sharing a bed (hard as a rock) with a girl you just met, eating breakfast at 6am, ‘lunch’ consisting of dahl baat tharkadi (rice, lentils, veg curry) at 9 AM and the same for dinner at 7pm, teaching a disorganised bunch of kids who hardly speak english at all. Thats intense!! I survived (with the advice of some friends from home, thank you soo much!), and was fascinated by how easy you can get used to living that simply, showering under the waterpump in the middle of the village (photos: ).

This experience made me enjoy the life in a big city more, during a few nights in Kathmandu. Visiting gorgeous Buddhist temples around the city by bike was great fun (photos: ), and discovering different areas within the city that were more fitting for my budget than the typical tourist area (Thamel) made life a lot more pleasurable AND cheap 🙂

After a chilled out flight to Bangkok, I met a really nice couple (Bas, NL and Gen, Canada) who I spent the next few days partying with at Sonkran, the Thai New Year Waterfestival (photos: ). What shocked me most about Thailand was how well everything worked, how beautiful it all is and how people actually follow the rules! More specifically: trains work, and are clean and Western-looking, roads are podhole free and big, cars undented and stopping for red lights, staying in lane, not honking, there are no cows (nor their poop) and no sleeping people on the roadside/benches/street/train tracks. Reverse culture shock, can you imagine?!
After the waterfestival and staying in a great hotel in the centre of Bangkok (clean, actually white sheets, towels provided, white walls, soft bed, clean floors, working showers and Western toilets), I met up with my ex-housemate from Swansea, Mark. We nightbussed to Chiang Mai together, a nice town in the north of Thailand. After some exploring here, we took a 3 day package deal by bus and slow boat to Luang Prabang, Laos, which turned out to be an amazing adventure, with an even more amazing group of people. We had SO MUCH FUN! Still together with most of them, as this town is very small so we run into each other all the time. (Photos: )

Overall, development in Thailand (and Laos so far) seems a lot better than India and Nepal, especially when it comes to infrastructure and tourist things like restaurants and hotels. It is also a LOT more touristy, which makes traveling here in Southeast Asia a very different experience from the time Ive spent in South Asia. Thailand especially was crammed with 18year old backpackers who were there for partying, drinking and chilling out rather than exploring, learning and people on a spiritual journey as Ive often seen in India. It is enjoyable tho, as long as I add in the cultural explorations that are available, and theres many! Caves, waterfalls, beaches, temples.. Im not bored yet!

Lots of love and happy easter,

Rose xx

PS: somehow this pc does not want to copy photo links, i will try again later today when i havent already spent 2 hours inside..)

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Goodbye India, hello Nepal!

Soo.. My last 10 days in India I spent in Varanasi, the city where everything from life to death literally happens on the Ganga. Kids play in it, the sick bathe in it, clothes are washed in it, and the dead are dipped in it before being burned on big open fires on its shores. Wow.

Some amazing adventures in Varanasi:
– crashing an Indian wedding, dancing, eating free food and laughing my arse off watching Indian men dancing
– coming home to a birthday party at the hotel where there’s loads of candles, sweets, guitarplaying and singing, and a constant state of high from all the weed being smoked and alcohol consumed. Reminded me of Swansea bonfire nights!
– getting a tour of the ‘burning ghats’, the area where people are cremated. Actually not as creepy as it sounds, even seeing bodies being burned, not that scary, more fascinating.
– taking a morning and evening boat tour on the river: morning for sunrise and stunning views, evening for the Ganga Aarti, a religious ceremony on the banks of the river, done by 10 guys simultaneously and in total unison.
– walking through the tiny streets of the inner city (‘This is a dead end for sure’ ‘Oh wait, no its not!’)
– getting ill from the Ganga water, and not being able to hide out from the sun cos of the sleeping-in-a-tent-on-the-roof fact, thus being driven to sit at a well-aircon-ed cafe with a good clean toilet for hours and hours, and reading (literally) a book a day
– walking to the Krishnamurti centre 6km from my hotel, in this ill state, and enjoying the enormously peaceful atmosphere, gorgeous study centre and reading room, and the exceptional smells (flowers)
– enjoying the intense life of India for one last week, only realising once I got to Nepal how different it is!

Photos: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=274445&id=701557616&l=0e09857aff

While still ill, I took a train (6hrs, 4hrs delay), a local bus (3hrs), a rikshaw (15mins) and a walk to the border of Nepal, getting new stamps and new insights as soon as I crossed state lines. NEPAL IS DIFFERENT!!

For one, there is a lot less haggling for everything, plus not as many touts trying to get your attention (taxi? boat? chai? pani (water)? come see my shop? hashies?). Also, people are generally less fussed with you, as in, they dont come out to stare at you, or ask you many intrusive questions about your life and loved ones, I guess they’re used to tourists more, or just dont care so much about them 🙂

Also, the weather in Nepal, especially in the highlands like Pokhara, where I am atm, is a lot more enjoyable than the crazy heat and dust of India. Even better: it rains here almost every afternoon! Some people are jokingly saying the monsoon has started already. I know most of you will be confused by this statement; why would you enjoy rain?! but it reminds me of home (both Holland and Swansea), and its nice and cool! Cant believe that the next 3 months of my trip will be in 40 plus degrees C, while I love cold and snow.. Hope I’ll survive!

Nepal then. Visited Buddha’s birthplace. Not just the city, but the actual, centimeter-specific place where he was born, as Prince Siddartha. Interesting!
Then I came to this city, discovered that my (still!) being ill was not just Delhi belly (aka spetterpoep or shitting my insides out), but actually a parasite and bacterial infection in my tummy.. Which I fought with antibiotics.

Then the craziness started: HOLI festival. What a party. Hard to explain, so I’ll say it in photos: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=276176&id=701557616&l=7dcf86ad0f

Next stop: HIMALAYAS!
I ran into two Dutch girls I met in India, and decided to join them on their attempt at Annapurna Basecamp trek. Unfortunately I was not strong enough yet (left one day after starting on my antibiotics), plus covered in bloody blisters from a few hours in, and decided to do a smaller trek, going from Poon hill at 3270 meters, to hot springs, then back to the city. Walking was great, the views were gorgeous, and I was disappointed in myself for having to give up on the big trek, but walking for 5 days in boots that make your feet bleed and blister, and having a body thats dying because its lacking strength is not fun either. All in all im very happy with my experience, and glad I came down in one piece!

Photos: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=278170&id=701557616&l=b676559ced

This blog is slightly chaotic and unorganised, cos internet is very expensive here, and I haven’t had time to update in a while. Apologies! I hope its legible and enjoyable nonetheless 😉

Lots of love from a rainy Pokhara
Rose xx

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Holy Cow!

Vrindavan: city where Krishna grew up, teasing the gopis and herding the cows. This city of thousand temples is where I joined my DRU friends and family for five days of ultimate bliss, spent with old friends, making new friends, dodging glasses-snatching monkeys, living like a princess and discovering the celebration that is religious and spiritual life. Many places of historical (hindu) spiritual importance are to be found here, and even more cows–which are actually really well taken care of for once. No plastic bags for food but healthy greens and veg, constant chanting as background music and loving caretakers and volunteers.
Although with pain in my heart, I left after 6 days, luckily knowing I will see all of these wonderful people again soon enough. Especially missing my new sister and mummy tho! (Sandra and Geertje, you were amazing thanks for taking care of me!! ❤ )

The train that was taking me to Haridwar, to go to Rishikesh, a holy city north of Delhi on the Ganga river, was delayed by 4 hours, which meant we arrived at half past midnight, a little inconvenient for finding buses and taxis.. Luckily I’d met Veronica (UK) on the train, who had a friend pick her up by car. I was allowed to tag along, and even got a free bed for the night on his couch. The next day after a great home cooked breakfast (brown bread toast with real butter and cheese, yum!), I went to the ashram of my choice, Phool Chatti, where I spent a week living the ashram life.

After a week of silence, yoga, meditation and being ill, the group has become like a family, and I felt a change in myself both physically and mentally. 3hours of yoga made me more (yes even more 😛 ) flexible, living together with many people in a small space made me more aware of others, discussions changed my mind on certain aspects of life and life choices, and the atmosphere of the ashram itself, which is 121 years old, changed me inside and helped me to accept myself and the world with less judgement and negativity. Overall an amazing experience.
Possibly the best part were the people in my new family. Theres Joe and Hisako (US and Japan), the ultimate example of long lasting love, and my willing parents for the week; Heather and Ivan (US and UK), a fantastic adventurous and spiritual couple thats discovering the world together; Catherine, a beautiful and wise Swiss yogi; Pavan (NL), a GI-looking tough guy with the kindest eyes and heart; and Lesley (OZ), my new sister, a fabulous fashion designer based in Sydney. Especially the last two made my time at the ashram so much fun, that I didnt really need the laughing yoga session we did :). The amazingness of my new family made the part of being silent very difficult, because although I enjoyed the silence, I wanted to get to know these people better and that is hard without talking. We worked it out tho, and I miss them all already. ❤

After we left the ashram (and indulged on sugar, chocolate and western foods), we stayed together with part of the family, ate together, and decided to do a rafting trip down the Ganga together. This was SOO MUCH FUN!! The rafting was amazing, the swimming in the river cold but lovely, and the ultimate ending to this adventure was the cliff jumping, which me and Ivan made into cliff diving (once we proved we could swim and were allowed to take our gear off).
Now this cliff diving, I dont know if Ive explained before, is the ultimate image I have for my trip. Ive done it before in Wales, and got inspired so have found several bridges in Holland to dive off of as well. When you stand up there, all of a sudden the height looks a lot scarier than when youre in the boat, and fear hits you like a ton of bricks. By just switching the mind off, getting your balls back off the ground and jumping, you get to experience an amazing rush of flying through the air like an eagle, then diving in the holy river and coming up unharmed and utterly excited. Instead of being worried, scared and blocking myself, ive booked my flights, jumped, and am now flying through the experience of Asia, thoroughly enjoying instead of being held back by fear of what could happen, or fear of the unknown. I hope this can be an inspiration to more of you, cos the flight is SOO worth it! My sol siren wife Shell can surely attest to this, as she is the ultimate swan diving free spirit.

Ive left my family and Rishikesh behind now, but am still with the holy Ganga, further southeast in Varanasi, my last week in India before traveling overland to Nepal. This city deserves its own blog, so im finished for now. Happy living and enjoy the pics:

Rose Ananda xx

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Holy lake, stunning structures and Krishna’s city

After staying in Pushkar a little longer for an amazing yoga teacher and naturopath, Dr. Kamal Pandey, who helped me understand my body better regarding my digestive disorder, and gave us some incredible yoga lessons (www.pushkar-yoga.com). Spent a lot of time with the beautiful and inspiring Italian dancer/yogi, Sonam, and after 10 days in this small but touristy town I felt very much at home.

Going to Agra to see the Taj was a fun day of traveling:
– local bus to Ajmer (half hour, 6 Rs)
– local tempo (= shared bigger auto rikshaw) to train station (10 minutes, 5 Rs)
– train to Agra, second seating (6,5 hrs, 133 Rs)
– rikshaw to hotel, shared with Irish Siobhan who I met on the train (15 minutes, 50 Rs/2)

The Taj was incredible.
We got up at 5 (shared a room to save costs again), got to the ticket office at 5.30, and found out it doesnt open till 6.30.. But we were second in line for a ticket, by opening time the line reached around the corner of the street. Once we got inside, as you can see on the pics, we could hardly make out the white marble building in the thick fog.
Luckily, we could see inside the musoleum. The marble work was so insane, I spent a long time waiting for more guides with pen torches to come by so I could see it again. They hold these small torches up against the marble, and the different parts of the flower patterns (made with precious and semi precious stones) light up like fairy lights! The red coral was especially magical.
Another magical thing about the Taj were all the beautiful patterns, arches and decorations. As you can see in the pics I was enchanted by them and kept taking pics of details, also to inspire my mum who is a ceramics artist and silver jewelry maker (www.padme.nl).

We waited for 3 hours till finally the fog lifted a bit, and voila! There was the stunningly beautiful building, that is SO worth the 750 Rs entrance fee! (thats more than 1-2 days on my current budget). Many many pictures taken this day, I felt like a proper tourist sitting on the white marble bench where Diana, along with millions of tourists, sat before me, taking pics like never before 🙂

After lunch on the rooftop restaurant of my hotel (Shanti Lodge, best view of the Taj in Agra) with Siobhan, I once again traveled:
– local bus to Mathura (1,5 hrs, 42 Rs)
– local tempo to Vrindavan (20 mins?, 10 Rs)
– cycle rikshaw (my first!!) to the hotel (15 mins, 10 Rs)
Im putting my travels up this time because Im proud of my finding-cheap-transport-skills: Autos tried to get me to pay 150 Rs for the trip from Mathura to hotel, instead I did it for 20, whoop! 🙂

Im now staying with the Dru family (www.druworldwide.com) on their India retreat. Happy as can be with many old friends around, in a town where Krishna is at the source of everything. Some say the holiest town in India, this place is filled with offerings, flowers, monkeys (who steal glasses!) and spiritual seekers from around the world. Hare Krishna!

Radha Radha

Rose xx
pics: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=269939&id=701557616&l=592d782c7d

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Rajasthan

After a long train ride, during which I was ill for the first time (how fun, on a train!), I arrived in Udaipur. What a beautiful city! Murals and paintings everywhere, many art shops and a stunning palace (the biggest in Rajasthan). I spent a while here to chill out after the chaos of Delhi, and to get healthy again. Met some inspiring people (especially Katarina from Germany, thanks for the chai! 🙂 ), chilled out on rooftop terrace couches while the sun set over the hills and lake, and read many books. (Kumbha Palace is a nice and cheap hotel right behind the Palace, run by a Dutch woman).

Next stop: Jaisalmer, the real desert experience. On the bus there I met Sophia from Denmark, who I ended up spending the next week with. The fort in Jaisalmer is amazing, tho small: it literally looks like some giants were building sand castles, with big buckets like we used to as kids! We stayed in one of the fort hotels one night, then were off to a camel safari in the Thar desert. 3 days of dry, rocky and hot planes, hobbling on camels and great food cooked on a simple fire, 2 nights of bright stars and frozen noses while sleeping in the sand dunes under some blankets. Because there wasn’t much to do, it felt like a very relaxing time, almost like a meditation retreat! It was just me, Sophia, the guide Raman (+91 9928219677 for safaris with a good rate and a great guide) and the three camels: Papu, Lalu and Raju. I fell in love with the last, as my pics on fb prove: kisses and hugs all around! 🙂

From Jaisalmer, we spent 1 night in Jodhpur, to see the stunning fort and wonder through the streets to find this one particularly amazing Samosa stall. Apart from the fort, the city wasn’t that appealing to me, so I took a bus the next morning to Pushkar.

This small city is centred around Pushkar Lake, the ‘holiest lake of India’. This lake is surrounded on almost all sides by ‘ghats’, steps, on which Hindus bathe, cows walk around and shit, pigeons get fed from peoples hands (yaay that was cool), and sadhus (priests) try to get their hands on your money by (sometimes rather aggressively) offering you a Pushkar passport. It further has (one of) the only Brahma Temple in the world, and is surrounded by mountains. On one side of town, there is a mountain with a Savitri temple on the top, on the other side a slightly smaller mountain with a Gayatri temple on the top. Great places to see the sunrise/sunset from!
The town is great: small, but peaceful and friendly, with many tourists but not that much hassle. I feel that here, I have finally adjusted to the Indian way of life, and can walk around without feeling sad/annoyed/frustrated/harassed/confused by India. Finally! So now I can focus on enjoying and learning.

Pushkar is my last city in Rajasthan,  and I am here for only a few days longer so I’m leaving this tomb-like internet cafe to enjoy my time here! Please leave a comment, and let me know what life is like in your world.

Lots of love
Rose

Did you know that:
– women in Rajasthan wear the most amazing colours, and often cover their faces with very thin coloured scarves etc. It makes them even more beautiful!
– my favourite dish masala dosa is very hard to find here in the desert 😦
– my hotel in Pushkar (Milkman) has a rooftop garden with actual grass, and a turtle who lives there (named Shelly)
– Pushkar lake is actually tiny, more like a pond
– my legs are having a hard time in Rajasthan: first the camel safari (OMG auch..) and now the climb to the Savitri temple..
– Rajasthan, although a desert, is filled with cool animals: obviously camels, cows and donkeys, but also monkeys, many puppies and even pigs that resemble our wild bore, only they live in the gutters next to the streets. Their babies (see pics Jaisalmer) are the CUTEST THING!! ❤

🙂 xx

Photos: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=266761&id=701557616&l=c9b45b3681

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Big cities: holy men and dirty bastards

In order to save money, I decided to couch surf in Bangalore, which worked out great. Saravana turned out to be a great host, who even taught me how to make dosas and dropped me off at the bus stop in the middle of the night. Thanks!

The one day I spent in Bangalore was amazing because of the talk that the Dalai Lama held there at that time, perfect timing for me. I couldn’t quite believe that in this big tent with beautiful Buddhist decorations, one of the most amazing men of our time walked in, sat down and spent the next 3 or 4 hours sharing his wisdom, personal issues and most of all his jokes and teasing. so inspiring in a funny and understandable way!

The next day I flew to Delhi, where a guy named Shiva, who came highly recommended by a friend of mine, picked me up from the airport. I was going to stay with him for a few nights, until I could book a train to Rajasthan and figure out my next plans. He then showed me and 3 polish girls some tourist attractions in Delhi, altho more time was spent in his car in traffic than viewing anything worthwhile.

In the morning he had given me an unsolicited palm reading, and asked to give another one before we went to bed. Only 5-10 minutes, he said. Well, that turned into a much longer ‘healing’ session, where at first he did help me by facing some of my personal issues, but then started to focus more and more on boyfriends and my lack of trusting people. He stated that I was sick, and would make myself sicker and sicker until I would kill myself with my negative thoughts, and said it was located in my tummy. Now, some of you know I have a digestive disorder, which I had mentioned during the day, so it wasn’t difficult for me to accept that that’s where I wasn’t healthy. He wanted to remove this illness by touch, which I finally allowed, but unfortunately the conversation kept focusing more and more on sex. During his ‘healing touch’ and massage, he asked me to tell him what my boyfriends used to do to me to please me (‘did he used to lick you?’ ieeuuwww) and asked if i could undo my trousers, and indicated that tantra (reaching higher mental/spiritual state thru sex) was the answer to my illness. This was beneficial and necessary for me to get healthy, and i should trust people more. It was nothing physical, and not for his benefit, but I’d never been with a real man before, who could make me truly satisfied (OMG really?!). Even tho my friend Alex had told me he trusted this man with his life, all possible alarm bells were going off by now and I told him this was enough, and wouldn’t let it go any further. He finally accepted that ‘i wasn’t ready to get better’, and went to sleep in his own room. Altho the palm reading had been interesting, the last part of this second session made the whole thing feel like a big scam to violate me, and so I packed my bags the same night, and got dropped off the next morning.

Luckily, the very helpful guy at the train station got me a train ticket to Udaipur, Rajasthan for the same night, so I didnt have to stay in this big city any longer. It was interesting to notice that I actually felt really safe in Delhi now that I was by myself again, even after hearing many scary stories about the metro and train station from Shiva. No stabbing, no grabbing, not even any touts or scammers trying to get me to the wrong tourist booking office!

The main thing I’ve learned from staying in those two big cities is that I should trust my instincts. In Bangalore, I knew Saravana would be safe, even tho I didn’t know him and I was alone staying in a guy’s apartment, and in Delhi, I knew I wanted to leave and did not feel safe.

So that’s the lesson for today kids: trust your gut, not your brain, and don’t let old, dirty, hairy fat men try to screw you!

Lots of love for those of you who deserve it,
Rose xx

Btw, Shiva said I shouldn’t share our ‘healing’ with anyone, but I have decided that in order for other solo traveling girls to be safe, I should share this. And also, it feels good to write it and call him out on his dirty behaviour. Hence the detailed and personal story!
I’m sure he does mean well in his mind, and has helped many couples and men during their travels, but I would advice girls traveling alone not to stay with him.

Photos: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=264536&id=701557616&l=3d4c4d96a2

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