Goodbye Asia, thanks for having me

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I found this nice passage in the journal of a travel writer describing their experiences in Tibet. Its unusual for me to relate to such cliched travel tales of ‘finding yourself’ but this trip has given me a level of self assurance I could never have imagined when I set off. My creativity has been restored beyond my wildest dreams and the yoga helped to assert fearless expression of my true self. I’m so contented and bewildered by my travels and its rekindled my enormous wonderlust. I cannot wait to venture to other continents and the southern hemisphere in particular.
So I guess I should attempt to surmise the first half of 2013 and the first continent in my travels.
I’ll work chronologically in order to try and remember it all.
Thailand
My first stop was a return to Thailand. I eased myself in gently by going back to somewhere familiar. But this time instead of going east to west, I went from south to north. Learning to dive was sensational, such a completely new experience and night diving will probably remain one of the coolest things I’ll ever do in my life. I’m still fairly certain that my most memorable night in 5 months was spent celebrating Chinese New year in Chinatown in Chiang Mai. The land of the Thai is also the place I met the best travel partner I could’ve hoped for so it is probably held in higher regard due to those extra brownie points.
Laos
Laos was our next destination, sadly a very brief whizz through but we took our sweet ass time getting there on a slow boat down the Mekong. Laos was also the setting of the infamous wedding ceremony at a bowling alley with an ordained Canadian! I’m still wearing the ring to date. Not sure if that makes it legit.
Vietnam
We then flew into Vietnam. I was really apprehensive as this nation had been at the top of my to see list for some time. So I really didn’t want to build my hopes up and get disappointed by an anti climax. I didn’t in the slightest. It was everything I hoped and more. The moody mists of Halong Bay were enchanting and Hanoi was a beautiful unexpected gem. The progressive heat increase as we headed south was accompanied by a series of nightbus adventures. Learning to surf in Hoi an was a big highlight but I loved being the navigation passenger on the back of a motorbike just as much. The red sand dunes in Mui ne were gorgeous and made for an exceptional photography opportunity. The war museum in Saigon was a humbling experience. The food was sensational but I was one banh mi away from being a certified fatty! Saying goodbye to someone I had been so inseparable from was one of the most gut wrenching emotional moments of my life. But we had a strange sense of assurance that we’d definitely see each other for future adventures. How right we were!
China
I cannot express my sheer amazement of how I actually ended up in China. It was always such a complete pipe dream but it came true. None of it would have been possible without the sheer brilliance of my visa assistant and personal guide and translator, the wonderful mister Nelson. I am so grateful to him for all his help and truly in awe of his talents. My reflections on China were extensive enough to warrant its own post. But in summary hiking the Great Wall blew my mind as did swimming in the Olympic park. The panda cubs in Chengdu turned me into a complete girl and my day spent in the peoples park was probably the most surreal thing in my life. Zhangjiajie was the best last minute decision. The landscape is so diverse. The sezchuan food hotter than I could have ever conceived and the green tea as superb as I dreamed it would be. Thousands of kilometres on nighttrains paid off. This nation was well worth the whistle stop tour.
Hong Kong
I don’t feel that my brief 24 hours in Hong Kong give me a license to make any significant comment. But the memory of a morbidly obese big beautiful internet host chain eating tins of tuna will probably stay with me for ever. The image is probably etched into my retinas and the stench forever burned into my nostrils. Amazing michelin star dim sum more than made up for it though. I could tolerate the miserable weather there with humility but I towed the line with the lighting bolts surrounding the plane as I left. That I really could have done without.
India
I don’t really know where to begin on my 2 months in India. It was a complete battery on my senses because they were permanently stimulated. I tried to not have any expectations for the yoga teacher training but it really tested my patience. I knew I was committed enough to achieve certification and I’m genuinely proud of myself for my accomplishments during such a heatwave along with all of other incredible people I met during my time in Rishikesh. In hindsight I should never have travelled so quickly through central India in such extreme heat but it was worth it to complete the bucket list. I feel great having only having one bad bout of illness during my whole time there. As debilitating as it was and how mortified I was  throwing up at the border ceremony, I am grateful to have made it to the mountains. Seeing the Dalai Lama teach in his own home was really surreal, purely for how normal it felt. I’ve always been moved by his smile but witnessing it in person is truly heart warming and I’m forever grateful for such a good view! Dharamshala proved inspirational in terms of compelling me to research the history and current situation of Tibet and I’m really looking forward to getting my reading hat on. I’m still flagergasted by Delhi’s relentless attempts to screw me over. Every person is constantly trying to squeeze an extra few hundred rupees out of every conceivable situation. Its exhausting but the brilliance of the goodies makes up for it and restores your faith in human kind.
Nepal
My final destination is a very brief stop in Nepal. But brief is a good thing. Its so hot and humid and rains cats and dogs every day now the monsoon is on its way. Spending a week under the supervision of a teacher and painting thanka in pokhara has been an incredible experience. As was avoiding getting struck by lightning on a lake whilst kayaking, could have done without that vigorous heart exercise. Seeing the fishtail mountain range was superb but hiking in the heat made me glad that I didn’t push myself into a mammoth trek. Kathmandu is in a sunken bowl with the surrounding mountains so the pollution hangs in the dirty air. Not a great fan of that, so its making me all the more excited to fly home.
So in summary I don’t know whether learning to dive and celebrating Chinese New year in Thailand, slow boating and getting married by an ordained Canadian in Laos, learning to surf in Vietnam, walking a stretch of the Great Wall naked or seeing panda cubs in China, avoiding the big beautiful tuna eater in Hong Kong, becoming a certified yoga teacher or projectile vomiting to an audience in India, or learning to paint whilst hiding away from the monsoons or seeing Mount Everest from the sky in Nepal was the highlight of my trip. Either way I’ve had an absolute ball and shared these memories with some incredible folks, and for that I’m truly grateful. Asia has been a real treat and I’m sad to say goodbye to this fabulous continent but here’s to an equally amazing English summer. Tutty bye Asia. Thanks for having me.

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