uncategorized

It’s been a while…

Hello again world,

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? My last post when I was in Luang Prabang, Laos…more than 4 months ago!

Well, it’s been quite the crazy (!) journey since then, I can tell you that. I read my own post to remember where I left off and I thank my former self for leaving my current self with the following quote from Steve Jobs :

You can’t connect the dots looking forwards, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.

I sure hope that I can see where the dots connect someday (preferably soon), and the bigger picture will be clearer.

Over the past few months, I went through a whirlwind of emotions and it seemed like life was really testing me – eye surgery, a wedding, and a whole lot of drama that I won’t discuss about here anytime soon. It was, and still is, a very stressful period of my life that I’m glad is almost done. I’m in a better place now and trying to maintain positive.

Anyway, I came across this TED talk that I’d like to share here.

To sum it up, psychologically our brains get stuck in states of negativity after a bad experience for longer periods of time compared to good experiences of the same weight.

You have to work to see the upside. Venting will not get rid of negative emotions. It makes us prolong the experience, so try to focus on the positives that happen and talk about that.

This is what happened to me. I remain stuck for a long time. The year I spent abroad teaching yoga I didn’t shed a single tear but in the last few months, all I seemed to be doing was break out in tears. It was not endless crying, mind you. There were days, where I would be feel completely fine but it wouldn’t last for long. The memories would resurface and I would go off again.

Being put on strict bed rest to keep my eye pressure down didn’t help me as I couldn’t do yoga, run or lift anything over 10lbs. I felt completely useless and helpless. I got restless and I had no outlet. So naturally that restlessness turned to frustration and negative energy that would be released on the people around me. I stopped meditating too because my restless mind couldn’t even begin to comprehend it. I allowed these feelings to take over my life and I was convinced that I was completely powerless over them.

But slowly, and thankfully, I started to work my way out of it. The wallowing period had to end. I forced myself to meditate again for at least 10 minute sessions. The sessions started off really difficult and left me thinking how did I manage half an hour each day for a whole year? With each day, it got better and I definitely saw the change in my days – more mental stability and calmness, compared to the days where I would skip out.

About 2 weeks ago, the doctor gave me clearance to do some activities again, which is an added bonus. No forward bending yoga still but I can climb and run. So I can’t complain too much. My physical body is beginning to feel stronger and with it my mind is as well.

It’s a slow process and a conscious and constant effort to restrain my mind from relapsing.  I’m trying to motivate myself each day by practicing visualization techniques, write myself little quotes and think positively about the future.

My second eye surgery to remove the oil that was put in from the first surgery is scheduled in about a week and a half. After which, I have at least 1-2 months of bed rest. So I better make the most of my time now while I can. Although I’m scared as I’ll only be under local anesthetic, which means I will be awake while they dig into my left eye, I’m looking forward to getting it over with and really be back on the road to recovery. Bring it on.

uncategorized

What teaching yoga has taught me.

I’ve been practicing yoga for the past 9 years and in the past year began to teach.

Right now, I’m in Luang Prabang, Laos teaching about 4-6 classes a week. Not too long ago, I spent 7 months teaching on an idyllic island called Koh Chang, which you can read in about a dozen of my other posts.

During my time in Koh Chang, I was tempted to just stay and never leave. Life there was just so easy. Where my resort was located was so far removed from the material world, the closest 7-Eleven about 30-minutes drive away.

I would wake up, teach, spend the day reading and writing, practicing more yoga, visiting friends and doing whatever suited my fancy. My routine sent me into a meditative state of complete bliss, and I felt the most peace I’ve ever felt in my life.

Then one day, as I was teaching a more yin based class, which consists of long hold stretches, I told my students:

“Although it’s tempting to be quite relaxed in these postures, try to exhale a little deeper into these stretches and go slightly past your comfort zone. Pushing yourself past your comfort zone stimulates growth.”

Then it hit me, I was too relaxed, I need to go slightly past my comfort zone. If I stay forever in paradise, how can I grow? So, teaching my students taught me to take my own advice and I decided that although life was easy in this place, I could not stay forever. I needed to move forward and I needed to grow. I need to build something to my name that could serve society in some way. Once I realized that, I didn’t feel bad about leaving. It opened up a new chapter to my story.

So as I sit here in a café in Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, I know that it’s for a reason. The people I meet here continue to provide constant inspiration to move forward in my journey with purpose and motivation.

That is the amazing journey with yoga, it’s so metaphorical, it is full of warriors, cobras and all sorts of other animals. And weaved in with it’s amazing philosophy, you have an all-encompassing guide to life.

steve Jobs dots

uncategorized

Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang Sleeper Bus Scam

Alright so, as of December 2015, this is what happens. It’s not really a scam, but more of a sneaky little thing to do.

Now being the backpacker that you are, you’ll probably love a sleeper bus. It’s such a good deal! Accommodation and transport, sleep while you get there, what’s not to like?

Well, there’s a catch, here’s my story.

My travelling partner, Jake, whom I had been travelling with since Vientiane, and I needed to get to Luang Prabang. He really wanted to take the sleeper bus to save on 40,000 kip of accommodation for the night, which is what we were paying at Central Backpackers, a lovely dorm/guesthouse in Vientiane. I didn’t mind either way.

So we started to look for busses, and all around Vang Vieng we saw schedules with the following information.

Vang Vieng – Luang Prabang
Minivans – 4 hours – 100,000 kip
Sleeper bus – 8 hours – 120,000 kip

My Spidey senses tingled. How can the same trip take twice as long? I knew something was off. From prior research I knew that the journey could not have been 8 hours. The travel agent insisted that it was a different route they took, a longer route. Somehow, it still didn’t feel right – why in the world would anyone drive for twice as long to get to the same place seems baffling? I suggested we spend an extra 20,000 kip to stay one more night and leave on the day bus. I disliked busses, so the less time I was on them the better. But he had such great experiences on them that he insisted we take the sleeper bus. And so we did.

The departure times were all over the place at 8:30, 9, 9:30. I found out why later. After being picked up from the travel agency at 9:30, we were dropped off at bus stand by the side of the highway, where our driver tried to flag down sleeper busses that had enough space to fit any passengers. Two busses passed by were full, so we continued to wait it out. I decided to just sleep on the bench (it’s a skill) as I hated waiting anxiously.

At about 10:30 PM, we finally get a bus that would take us, so we piled on. It was a double sleeper, so Jake and I took one bunk, while single travellers got paired up with complete strangers. A Korean man insisted he had bought 2 tickets to get a whole bed to himself but sad to say he had to share in the end. After we settled, I thought, finally, I could get a good 8 hours of sleep on this 8-hour journey.

Nope.

At 4AM, people started yelling out, “Luang Prabang, Luang Prabang, get off here!”

Jake and I stared at each other with sudden realization washing over our faces. Pieces came together. We were duped. They put 8 hours on those schedules because that’s how long people sleep for. How sneaky!

We piled of the bus at 4 AM in the morning at the bus station without a clue what to do. Tuk-tuks were waiting to take us into town for 20,000 kip. But where would we go? We didn’t even have accommodation booked. The tuk-tuk driver told me that restaurants would open at 6 AM, so we’d have 2 hours to kill.

We piled into the tuk-tuk and followed other travellers as they were dropped off all around town. We decided to be dropped off close to Utopia, which is where I would be teaching.

We wandered around for a while and didn’t see anything open. We encountered about 15 other stragglers (who were there since 3 AM) and we all decided that we had enough of walking with our backpacks and that we should just sit down and relax at Tat Visoun, which I then referred to as “That thing over there.”

So we sat in one large group, beautiful stars in the sky and had our first taste of Luang Prabang. It was the opportune time for me to play some songs on my ukulele. We stayed till about 6AM before going on the hunt for breakfast.

It wasn’t a horrible experience given what happened in our specific circumstance. It was actually a memorable one and a nice sense of community as people began to band together during a time of crisis. That being said, I’ve heard other stories from my students that they were travelling alone or in smaller groups having to sit outside guesthouses for 3-5 hours until they opened.

So if you’re still going to take the sleeper bus. Know that the journey is not going to be 8 hours, and you’ll be awoken mid sleep in the complete darkness left to your own devices. It may be a better option to spend 20,000 kip to stay an extra night in Vang Vieng, take a day bus and get to Luang Prabang at a reasonable time during the day.

I just thought you should know.