travel

Gaining perspective in Bali & Lombok

100_2243I recently set off on the trip of a lifetime, a month in Asia spending time in Bali, Kathmandu and Bhutan. As I sat at the airport waiting to leave I heard about the earthquake in Nepal. I managed to get to Bali although a day late but couldn’t get much further.I like to have everything planned and this trip was no exception, the disruption made me uncomfortable and darkened my mood, as well as being told all my air tickets were non refundable and the insurance would not cover anything. I knew I should be grateful I was not in Nepal, I should also be putting this into perspective, my dramas are nothing compared to what these people are going through. I reasoned with myself that feeling this way was ridiculous, I was a glass half full kind of person but I’d lost perspective and I’d lost the value of the present moment.I knew all this stuff inside out, I’ve written a book on it yet here I was given the ideal opportunity to practice it and failing miserably. It got me thinking about the difference between intellectually understanding something and then actually putting it into practice. It’s like dieting, we know we shouldn’t eat cake and take aways but sometimes we do anyway.I had to have a very stern word with myself, followed by a long walk and some meditation a massage and a slice of cake! I began to gain perspective and like a fog lifting I realised I was lucky not just to be alive but to be on holiday in Bali. I felt grateful for what I had, that so many others do not have, particularly those in Nepal. I no longer felt uncomfortable with not knowing, I knew it could be worse and I also knew it would turn out ok in the end, whatever was meant to be will be.We may not always get what we want, but we always get what we need and for me that was this lesson. This has taught me about perspective, positive thinking and not to be so hard on myself, we are all human after all. But the biggest lesson I take is about putting what we know into practice. With so much information available to us we can know so much but what do we practice and experience? It’s this that makes the difference.And now for the travel bit……………………….Bali reminds me a lot of the Thai islands which I love, the people are happy and smiling, they have little but seem to make the best of it, the local food is fabulous, sunny days, rainy nights and laid back beaches. It also has the same annoyances; litter, hawkers, stray dogs and drunk backpackers. However Bali is not new to the tourist scene, they are more savvy and as a result have made much more money, prices are higher (although still very cheap compared to dollars) and flash resorts and glass fronted shops are around every corner. It is much more westernised, they speak very good English and have a great sense of humour.As I ventured away from the main tourist spots I started to see local life unfold around me and particularly once I left Bali I noticed things like the 4:30am call to prayer from the local mosque in Lombok.I spent my first few days in Ubud, yes, mainly because I watched eat pray love! I went to yoga barn, stocked up on cheap clothes from the market, visited the monkey forest and was asked 100 times per day if I wanted a taxi. In fact I got so used to saying ‘no, thanks’ as I walked down the street that I pre empted one guy and said it before he’d finished his sentence. Turns out he wanted to ask me how I was. I felt rude so apologised, said “I am fine thanks, how are you?” He said “I’m fine, you want taxi?”After dealing with the initial travel disruptions and finding I had more time on my hands I decided I needed to head to my happy place and be by the beach. Ubud is good to see but I miss wide open spaces and being able to walk in places that are not crowded with motor vehicles, pollution and people so I headed to Lombok.Spending time in Lombok, which is not as busy as Bali and newer to tourism I found the people to be friendly and after a few days calling out my name as I walked down the street. They took a particular shine to my greenstone and some new about Maori and were fascinated to talk about NZ. The kids either wanted to hi-five me or have their photo taken with me, either way I felt like a bit of a film star walking down the street.After spending a few days in Lombok I am ready to venture to the Gilli islands just off the coast. They say there is a gilli island for everyone so I looked at which may suit me;

    1. Gilli Trawangan – ‘party hard, backpacker heaven’ – no way, too old for this shit
    2. Gilli Meno – ‘not much here, perfect for getting away from it but don’t expect wifi and restaurants’ – what no food, no way!
    3. Gilli Air – ‘somewhere in between the 2, a laid back place, snorkelling, eateries, but not as crazy as Gilli T’perfect, this has my name written all over it

So next stop Gilli Air, for beach, yoga and snorkelling and if I’m feeling energetic there’s a 5km walk around the island. I’ve gained my perspective, I’ve learned a lot (mostly about myself) and I’ve gained a sun tan and perhaps a few extra pounds in weight but have been lucky to see more of Bali, it’s not a bad place to be stranded and despite using up huge chunks of my savings I’ve rebooked to go to Bhutan from Bangkok and hope to still be able to do that part of the trip before leaving Asia, but whatever’s meant to be will be, where we are is where we’re meant to be.

Travelling light

 What having nothing taught me about having everything.

ZIMG_0134 (6)I’d just turned 30, in the prime of my life and I had everything; I lived in a house overlooking the beach, I had a top corporate job with a flash car, I was living the dream as some of my friends suggested but I was increasingly unfulfilled, I felt weighed down and trapped by the stuff I had and the rat race I was part of. So when I turned 31 I decided to try a different tact and opted for the simple life. I quit my job, my house and gave most of my possessions away. I wanted a taste of the simple life, made up of what really matters, making room for real things, the things that are necessary for happiness.I took the advice I’d read about that seemed to work so well for others and got rid of everything in my life that didn’t make me happy and made room for the things that would. It was like unpacking the suitcase of my life that I’d been dragging around for the last 30 years getting heavier and heavier and I was determined to only put back what I needed and what was good for me.I set off on a journey across the world doing the things that made my heart sing. I lived in Ashrams, volunteered in Northern Thailand and visited all the countries I’d longed to see. Before I left I’d laid out all the things on the bed I thought I’d need and then realised half of it was not going to fit in the bag and after much culling I had a backpack ready to go which I couldn’t lift off the floor. It’s surprising what you really need when you can only pack the bare essentials and nothing encourages you to pack light than having to carry it around on your back for 12 months!I found that by clearing out the things I didn’t enjoy I had time and space to do more of the things I did. I realised I could make do with one pair of shoes, I didn’t need a wardrobe overflowing with clothes I’d only wore once, I could live without wifi if I had to as checking facebook daily was not as important as my useage suggested. If there was something I needed that I didn’t have I made do with what I had, found an alternative or went without. What really brought this home was seeing how others lived, the hill tribes villages of northern Thailand where the kitchen consisted of a fire to cook on and a floor to sit on, there was no oven, dishwasher, dinning table or dinner service. However the room was filled with what mattered; family, love, laughter and more than enough food to go around.Spending time living the simple life you realise how little we actually do need and by not having it how much more room you have for things in your life that really matter. We have put too much emphasis on having many things and it’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that if you have something you want you’ll be happier with more. We struggle in the modern world with debt, obesity and addiction as a result of this mantra. But as Seneca put it “that man is poor, not who has little but who hankers after more”At some point in our lives we are forced to reduce the amount we have, whether it’s financial reasons, divorce, sickness, natural disaster or eventually death. Guess what we won’t take with us when the inevitable happens, everything.   Having less stuff does not mean less quality of life and this is clear to me now. It opens more space in your life for the fun stuff, the things that really matter, there’s less to clean, insure and pack each time you move!Going on this journey taught me how to appreciate the things we take for granted each day. Cold fresh water, a comfy bed with a nice warm duvet, a spare seat on the bus, having your own room. Living simply has also taught me to be grateful for what I have. When you don’t have something and miss it you realise how grateful you are that it’s there, whether this is your bed or your family, it’s the simple things that matter.