Bali - you have been a tough one! Intense, challenging, and uncomfortable multiple times, but all in all a very valuable journey. Most of the insights are nothing new, but sometimes you need a wake up call to become fully aware of them again.
Koh Phangan and Ubud both have a well-established spiritual/conscious scene, and many people of the community in Koh Phangan have also been to Ubud. Because of this I expected my Bali experience to be 'similar' to Koh Phangan, and I was looking forward to find the rest & peace in myself back again after the hectic (but amazing!) weeks in Australia, and before jumping into the crazy festival months ahead of me this summer. The opposite turned out to be true. Whereas I'm usually very adaptable and can feel home everywhere quite easily, the energy of Ubud seemed to vibrate on a different frequency than I was. At first I thought this was simply due to the huge difference from where I came from, but it wouldn't go away. It definitely didn't help that I wasn't able to sleep very well...
I had decided to stay at Michi Creative Village as someone had recommended it to me, and at first sight it seemed to be the perfect place: surrounded by nature (a river, waterfall, green hills), a swimming pool, WiFi, shared kitchen, yoga shala, an art gallery, a huge private room with 2 big beds, and a 5-10 minute motorbike drive from the famous Yogabarn and Ubud center - all for the price of IDR 4M/month (less than EUR 300). However, the place turned out to have a very weird energy that made me feel uncomfortable. At night the dogs would keep barking & howling in front of my door, and I've had sleep paralysis multiple times (which I didn't have for more than a year before).
Of course I could have left, but I didn't. Even though this 'should I stay or should I go now' dilemma kept my mind busy pretty much full time on the first two days, I decided to stay. I figured I would probably adapt to it, and I didn't feel like searching for a new place & having to move again. Besides, my Australian friend Jae was coming over to sleep at my place for a couple of nights so having 2 beds was convenient, plus I had also already paid for the whole month. Over the weeks the place did grow on me, but I never fully adapted to it and never had a really good night of sleep. This reminded me about the importance of a safe home base, and the emotional & physical (negative) impact of sleep deprivation. I feel - even more so than before - very blessed with my beautiful home in Amsterdam. And I am insanely grateful that 2.5 years ago I found the cure to my chronic sleeping problems. I had almost forgotten how it feels not to be able to sleep :)
In my first week I spent a lot of time with lovely Jae, who introduced me to a beautiful tribe of people with whom we have done cacao ceremonies, singing circles and dance journeys. Between those gatherings we enjoyed the delicious food, practised yoga and treated ourselves with some Balinese massages. At first sight not too different from my lifestyle back in Koh Phangan, but somehow I didn't really get into it.
While Jae went into a silence retreat for six days, I created my own couple of silent days in which I reflected on the journey I had been (and still am) going through of getting closer to my own feelings and shared this with my parents. Besides, I started brainstorming on what I would want in life after this big trip. Employee vs. Freelancer (digital nomad)? Business vs. Science vs. Spirituality? Amsterdam vs. Australia vs. Elsewhere? How can I leverage my gifts in a way that I contribute to the world and also satisfy my own needs? Multiple scenarios were unfolding in my diary and each had been given a proper analysis, including the requirements and the pros & cons in the short- & long-term. In the meantime I went to a 'Flylancer' event for freelancers to learn about the motivations, approach & experiences of digital nomads.
A few days later I met Brian & Kathy during ecstatic dance at the Yogabarn and we hang out for the next couple of days. We spent an interesting night at the Bali Flow Temple where we participated in a cacao ceremony, a tantric re-birthing workshop, and ecstatic dancing. But best of all was the day that Brian and I went to explore some beautiful waterfalls while cruising around the island on our motorbikes. It felt great to get out of Ubud...
I had noticed the difference on how it made me feel, and realised I wanted to get out of Ubud again. After spending a couple of more relaxed days with Jae - reflecting on each of our journeys in the past week - I decided to go on a little adventure. I found a couchsurfer in Canggu who was happy to host me, and I went on a motorbike road-trip by myself down towards the coast. My host Bram (originally from Java) was great. He showed me around town, we went for sunset at the beach, we ate food at his favourite local restaurants, and best of all: he teached me how to surf! I totally fell in love and decided to stay an extra night. My friends Nikita & Eric happened to be in Canggu as well, so I met up with them for some lazy beach time and nice dinner!
The moment I got back in Ubud I already wanted to head down to the coast again. Another couchsurfer - David, whom I had also sent a request earlier that week - invited me to come over, so after one day in Ubud (in which I went to the beautiful water temple Pura Tirta Empul - at 7AM to avoid other tourists) I was planning to head down again. However, the universe decided differently as during my morning coffee (a gingerbread latte - best thing I've ever had) at Wamm I randomly ended up in a 16(!) hour conversation with a very interesting man. Shaun, originally from Melbourne, has been living in Bali now for 6 years and is a teacher for children at his own school where he puts much more focus on creativity and soft skills, rather than just the hard skills as we are used to in 'the system'. From 7AM until 11PM we have been non-stop talking about our own private & work background, the (inner) journey of life, creativity, quantum physics, building bridges between business & spirituality and science & spirituality, new forms of education, the multiple layers of clichés, aphantasia, neuroscience, the power of the mind, the universe, etc.
During this conversation it became clear to me how much I missed analytical challenges. I missed my work. I was craving for numbers, for data, for modelling with Excel! Pieces of the puzzle slowly were falling together. This explained why I couldn't really get into the vibes of Ubud, and it also has given me direction for my life after this big trip. I really need both: the combination of spirituality and more analytical challenges. It's all about the balance. Once again, no surprise and nothing new... But I needed a re-confirmation.
Needless to say I didn't make it to the coast on that day, and neither the next day as I felt slightly hangover-ish from the bottle of wine we had. Yep - Lexmy with a hangover from just 3 glasses of wine! Amazing how fast the body resets itself if you don't drink for a couple of weeks (with daily yoga practices and eating healthy vegan/vegetarian food all the time). I need some proper drinking preparations again before all the festivals this summer take off ;)
My time in Bali was coming close to an end, so instead of driving down on my motorbike I decided to bring all my stuff down to my host David and go straight to the airport from there. Those last two days back at the coast were definitely the best I could have wished for before leaving Bali. David & I got along really well and we spent most of the time hanging out together in endless conversations. It was nice to end my time in Bali with such a beautiful connection.
Thank you Bali for holding up a mirror to let me (re-)define my true authentic self, and giving direction to what I want in my life after this big trip.
PS. For those who wander where I am right now... I am back in Australia! The original plan to fly from Bali to Vietnam has changed to flying via Australia to Vietnam. A bit of a detour, but this weekend I will be celebrating Nick's birthday with him (and with his awesome roommates & my friends from the Blazing Swan!) and on Monday night Nick & I will fly together to Vietnam! We'll have a week together to explore the North, and then my father will fly in to Hanoi with whom I will most likely travel down South. And then guess what... I'm flying to Amsterdam on the 21st of June! To spend a week couchsurfing at some of you before heading off again to Nowhere festival in Spain. Woeeaaaah exciting stuff!
PS2. Due to technical reasons: for photos see my Facebook album 'Bali (May 2017)' or click here:
Whoaaaahh! I'm happy that I've been writing some key words about my every day adventures, because so many things have happened in the last couple of weeks again. Hopefully my Bali time will give some time and space for the processing & integrating part, because so far I haven't really had (or created) the opportunity for that.
Koh Phangan: my last week at my new second home
After I said goodbye to most of my Koh Phangan family I had a full day of relaxation in my hammock to reflect on all that had happened in the past weeks. I didn't have anything planned for the rest of the week yet neither, but I managed to end up in lots of spontaneous adventures again:
- Randomly ended up in a photo & videoshoot for aquatic body work and aerial yoga
- Went to the first Conscious Festival at Wonderland where I spent the day with ecstatic dancing, doing acro yoga & hula-hooping, swimming in the pool, and chilling with some friends
- Did my last couple of yoga sessions at Samma Karuna and said bye to this beautiful place
- Spending time with Jessica (a friend from back home) and her travel buddy Katja - who all of a sudden decided to visit Koh Phangan for a couple of days in their travels
- Brought back my beloved motorbike to the other side of the island (thank god I only got a 12 euro fine for the broken mirror of Sareh & my little accident - they had my passport and sometimes you hear stories how they will charge you insane amounts to get your passport back). After returning the motorbike I decided to hitchhike back and got a lift from an awesome Brazilian guy who turned out to also be a burner. That night the Burning Man USA tickets would go on sale (2AM for us) and we ended up spending the whole day together. Having lunch, going to ecstatic dancing, and sharing an amazing Italian dinner at the beach. The next day we met up again, where we saw my last (and qualified as best ever) sunset in Koh Phangan from an infinity pool in the hills, and went to the Dome for a last sauna session under the beautiful night sky.
Thank you Koh Phangan for becoming my second home, and lots of love to all the beautiful people I've met whom have made this such an inspirational and unforgettable time <3
Koh Tao: diving with finding nemo, a big barracuda & a whale shark
My first destination after almost 3 months of Koh Phangan was Koh Tao - another beautiful (though very touristic) island an hour away with the ferry. The sun had left me behind, but happily enough the rain doesn't really bother when you are diving under water :)
So on Koh Tao I did my PADI diving open water course. As I mentioned before I had never really thought about doing this, so I went in quite blank without any expectations. But what an experience! Although my first dive in the ocean (after a day of practice in a swimming pool) started off not so well, as I had a panick moment when something came between my mouthpiece & my mouth which interfered with my normal breathing at around 10m under water. When my heart beat had returned to normal I could finally enjoy under water life to the fullest. And lucky as we were, we have seen a whale shark on our last dive! And even more lucky this happened to be also the first time since my whole trip that I brought my GoPro :)
As Sareh had left a week before me to the same place, and had spontaneously decided to also do her advanced open water course, we ended up having 2 days overlap in our time there. So we could reunite and catch up on all the adventures we had in our one week of seperation ;)
Kuala Lumpur: couchsurfing at my ex-colleague
As there were no direct flights to Perth, I decided to go via Kuala Lumpur and take the opportunity to stay there for 2 days. Michael (an ex-colleague, running our Seabury office in KL) and his wonderful girlfriend Sarah offered to host me for these days - so nice!
My first night we had a local dinner at the market, and ended up at the Pisco bar where we could spin a wheel to win free cocktails which went pretty well. This resulted in a very enjoyable evening, and also a slow start the next morning for me haha. But after a good cup of cappucino and a heavy breakfast meal I felt perfectly fine to be a real tourist and go to the Batu caves. The caves themselves were beautiful, but I had difficulties enjoying it with the whole commercial touristic atmosphere around it. Afterwards I went for a short visit to our Seabury office, and had a last dinner with Michael & Sarah at a very nice vegetarian restaurant with a great owner/cheff sharing his mission to create awareness around local food & sustainability to its customers.
Fremantle: pre-burn at Peter's place
Early in the morning I made my way to Kuala Lumpur airport where Sareh & I met up again to make our way to Perth. Or more specifically: to Peter's place in Fremantle, an amazing town just south of Perth.
So who is Peter and how did we end up there?
A couple of weeks earlier I had posted something in the Facebook event page of the Blazing Swan festival explaining our situation of 12 Dutchies (or more correctly 10 Dutchies, 1 Irish guy + 1 Australian guy) going to the festival, asking for recommendations on campervan hire & other logistics. Besides the many tips of fellow burners, a guy named Peter randomly offered to host all of us before the festival for a little pre-burn! We almost couldn't believe the generosity of this surreal offer from an unknown guy. Doing a little background check for the sake of safety I quickly noticed our common Dutch friends on Facebook, which he met in his 7 months living in the Netherlands some time ago. Besides, he turned out to be the initiator of 'the Liberators International' - a movement for freedom & peace (check it out: https://www.facebook.com/theliberatorsinternational/).
As exhausted Sareh & I felt on the flight and in the Uber, as excited we were the second we arrived at this unbelievable incredible place of Peter (see photos!), and even more excited to see our friends Femke & Alan (who had arrived just before us) and getting to know Peter and his amazing friends whom would also join to the festival: Michelle (his girlfriend), Jae, Michael (room mate), Passan, Cassy, Portia (room mate) & Steven.
The five days we spent there before heading out to the Blazing Swan flew by and totally set the atmosphere for the festival itself. We had multiple big shared dinners, went to Fremantle market, did a yoga session in the garden (I teached!), went to the beach, used our creativity to make signs with beautiful quotes for the festival, met his parents Iris & David (who also organized a BBQ at Peter's place for all of us), and even met his grand parents Henk & Antje who happen to be Dutch!
The rest of our crew arrived on different days, but two nights before departure we were complete: Femke, Alan, Evelien, Jorik, Nikita, Eric, Suus, Michael, Kim, Felice, Sareh & me. These last days were filled with picking up our campervans & doing all the shopping. The festival is based on self-reliance (one of the 11 principles in line with Burning Man - for more info check http://blazingswan.com.au/11-principles/) and money doesn't exist, so you better bring enough food & drinks to survive!
Jilakin Rock City: the Blazing Swan festival
On Wednesday the 12th of April we woke up early morning to make our way inlands to Jilakin Rock City where the Blazing Swan festival would take place. By sunset we had our camp set, dinner cooked & met our most awesome neighbour Sam, and were ready for the first little dance steps and exploration of the area. After a good night of sleep a bunch of us started off the festival with a naked party in the morning to let go of any barriers & judgement, and embracing total freedom. The whole day was a continuation of beautiful dances here & there, including a parade organized by Peter & some friends where we have been dancing with the signs that we made at our pre-burn and did some interactive dancing games to connect and play with each other.
Friday I spent the whole afternoon at the camp, preparing dinner (as it was Sareh & my cooking shift) and making necklaces/bracelets as gifts. I needed some me-time as I felt that the peaceful and serene state I had reached on Koh Phangan was totally lost after the hectic & exciting time afterwards, being continuously surrounded by so many people. I was totally back to the hyper-Lexmy as most people know me. This reminds me of a side note: I did a little experiment on myself in Koh Phangan (where you can get most medication without prescription), and tried Ritalin. For most of you it will not be a surprise how calm & focused this made me feel ;).
Late afternoon everyone was back at the camp, and after dinner we made our way to the hill where our friend Eric was playing a set during sunset. During the night the group fell apart, and after watching a fire show & doing some dances, Sareh & I ended up with the two of us on our own little adventure. This was the night the idea of our children book 'Saar & Lex on adventure' was born, which has led to several brainstorm sessions about its storyline & design already and will continue forward ;)
On Saturday I started my day going to a sweat lodge ceremony with Peter, Michelle & Jay. This spiritual experience was exactly what I needed to get rid of my restlessness and connect to myself again in the chaos around.
A sweat lodge ceremony is a purification ritual to give thanks, to heal, to seek wisdom, and to purify the mind, body & soul, originating from the Native American culture. It typically takes place in a dome-shaped lodge with a fire outside in the East direction where the stones are heated by a firekeeper and then placed in the center of the lodge to keep it hot. The sweat lodge symoblizes the womb of the Earth and the heated stones represent her body, supporting all life. The fire outside represents the light of the world, and the source of all life & power. The leader opens the ceremony with words of intention, drumming and chanting, pouring water over the rocks. Usually there are four 'doors' or rounds representing different spiritual challenges, in which each participant gets the opportunity to offer personal prayers for self and/or others. Between each round more hot stones are brought in and heat is built gradually. Chanting, drumming & meditation empowers the participants to endure the heat, teaching how to overcome physical discomfort and frustration.
After the ceremony we went to the Lip Sync Battle at PapaZahn's, where I met Nick - an amazing guy from New Zealand living in Fremantle as well. After a little dance we went for a walk with the two of us to watch the sunset from the rocks, followed by the burn of the Swan. This was very spectacular with beautiful fireworks and we bumped into all my friends as well! The rest of the night we have danced the night away as if we'd never danced before ;)
The next day I basically slept the whole afternoon to catch up on the lack of sleep from the night before, and to get ready for another memorable night ahead. Everyone joined to the Jungle Party at PapaZahn's, where the atmosphere was incredible and the decoration & dresses made me feel like I was seriously in the jungle. Where others were coming and going, Michael, Suus & me kept dancing non-stop for hours and hours. What a magical place!
After a good night of sleep we watched the hilarious 'Grundy walk-off' at PapaZahn's, where males basically put on a show of utmost sexiness on a cat walk. The rest of the day we spent chilling at the camp & packing our stuff, getting ready for our early morning departure the next day.
How was the Blazing Swan compared to Burning Man USA & AfrikaBurn?
This is a question a lot of people have asked me. Besides some more objective differences in terms of location (no dessert and sand storms, but salt lakes, hills, some trees & painful double G's instead), for me personally the Blazing Swan was also a very different experience compared to the other burns. Where I am usually keen to go on adventures on my own and love meeting new people, I now felt more like being with my old & new friends all the time since I have been & will be going on enough adventures on my own the rest of the year. I also skipped most workshops (like (acro) yoga, eye gazing, etc.) as these are also things I have been & will be doing a lot anyway. Furthermore, even though the festival is based on the same principles as Burning Man (including the 11th principle of consent, which I think was not very well incorporated as pictures were taken all the time without asking), I felt more like I was at Ruigoord than on an actual burn - probably due to the fact I came with friends I've never been to a burn with before but very often to Ruigoord, and also because of the environment.
Margaret River: road tripping along the South/West coast of Australia
After the festival Femke, Alan, Sareh & I spend a week together road tripping along the coast, making our way to Margaret River. The day we left was a bit of a grumpy day for everyone (but at least we were on the same grumpy frequency haha), and we went to bed early on a campsite in Dwellingup to catch up on sleep. This did us all very good and we made our way South to do some wild camping, where we spotted two dolphins close to the beach, and had breakfast with fresh fish that we got as a gift from a fisherman!
On Thursday we arrived at Margaret River where we stayed for three nights. What a beautiful place it is! Sadly enough Femke got stung by a wasp and had to take heavy anti-histamine due to her allergy, which made her very sleepy. While she was taking a rest, Sareh, Alan & I went for a nice forest hike. We catched up again afterwards at the Brew House (a local beer brewery), and continued with gin tonics in the forest. This has led to some very funny 'before gin tonics' and 'after gin tonics' photos, of which due to consent I will only show the 'before gin tonics' photo below ;)
A good pizza dinner and proper sleep helped us to wake up perfectly fine on Saturday, so we were able to get the best out of our last day at this beautiful place. We visited the lake caves, went to the ocean where we've seen some of the biggest waves ever from very closeby (see pictures!), and on our drive back we spotted some kangaroos.
On Sunday we headed back North, and while Sareh left us to go the after-Blaze party with a guy she had met on the festival, Femke, Alan & I had some beach time at South Beach and went to the cinema in Fremantle to watch Beauty and the Beast. After check-out on Monday we went again to South Beach, where Nick (the guy I met at the festival) came by as well. He just came back from a week at his family in New Zealand after the Blaze and ended up joining for our dinner at Peter's place in the evening, where we re-united with Peter, Michelle, Michael, Jae, Cassy, Passan, Sareh, Femke, Alan & me. It was supposed to be my last night before flying out to Bali, but I spontaneously decided to change my flight to four days later and stay with Nick! Funny how I had bought for the first time in my life a flexible ticket (as I somehow had a feeling that was a good idea), and was unable to get on WiFi the night before when I wanted to check-in for my flight (which would have made it impossible to change my flight).
Fremantle: the spontaneous adventures of Nick & Lex
So after a cozy night in Peter's warehouse with Femke, Alan, Sareh, Nick & me, and after doing a back flip on the trampoline for the first time in 13 years again, all of a sudden I was on my way to my new home in Fremantle for the upcoming days. Nick lives in a really lovely hippie-style house with amazing room mates where I felt home immediately. We spent the day doing some gardening and cooking pasta, and went to bed early as Nick had to wake up for work at 6AM.
While Nick was working, I enjoyed my me-time with a good cappuccino and breakfast at a nice cafe nearby, and started writing my blog. Time flew by and around 3PM Nick came back and had rented a car for the upcoming days as a suprise, to move around easily and get the best out of our time together! So sweet! We went to the monument in Fremantle for an awesome sunset view, had dinner at an Indian restaurant called 'Annalakshmi' in Perth, and went for a wine picnic in King's Park.
On Thursday Nick had to work a night shift, so we could spend the whole day-time together. He took me out for a delicious brunch and showed me around Perth City. We went for a swim at the beach afterwards and his house mate Andrew joined us for a hot yoga session at a place nearby. While Nick left for work after our quickly cooked steak dinner, I spent the evening on the couch chatting with Andrew and went to bed early.
Friday morning I spent in the garden typing my blog, when Nick surprised me with a freshly brewed caramel cappuccino that he went to get on the streets (while I thought he was still sleeping!). We spent the day in town buying crystals to make a necklace for each other, enjoying food & watching sunset at the beach, and drinking wine with a pizza back home in the garden while talking through the night. Saturday was my last day, and besides all the packing we still had some time to do acro yoga at the beach before he brought me to the airport.
Thank you Australia...
...for reminding me how much I love you, and how I still have this feeling to end up here for a much longer time at some point in life...
Thank you Dutchie crew...
...for being together and sharing all these beautiful moments with each other
Thank you Peter & co...
...for all your generosity, inspiration and wonderful vibes
Thank you Nick...
...for all the love, trust, playfulness, and overcoming barriers together
Another end of a chapter of my journey <3 Yesterday I hugged goodbye to Sareh and to three other amazing new friends who have become part of my Koh Phangan family over the past few weeks. I have never felt so much at home at a place outside of Amsterdam as I do here. It's only that I have to leave next week to make my way to Australia for the regional burn festival, otherwise I would likely be staying here even (much) longer ;)
I met these beautiful people at the party at Nikita & Eric's place on the day that I wrote my last blog. There was this instant beautiful deep connection, which was the start of many amazing (new) experiences, adventures and get-togethers in the weeks that would follow - ranging from sister circles to crazy party weekends to sunset dinners to all-night-long balcony chillings. So much love, hugs, experiences and wisdom has been shared - it blows my mind. I feel so blessed with all the beautiful people that I meet!
Sareh and I also turn out to be the best travel buddies & soulmates. We had only met each other twice in Amsterdam before, but we have been spending most of the last three weeks together (except for a couple of nights where she went to the other side of the island for the full moon party - it was still not possible to convince me to go there haha). It has been amazing to get to know each other so well in such a short time, and being able to experience so many of these beautiful moments and adventures together <3 Happily enough our seperation is only for a short time, as in less than two weeks we will fly together from Kuala Lumpur to Perth for a whole new adventure!
So what does a typical day at Koh Phangan look like for me?
Well.. First of all I guess there is no such thing as a typical day here. But for those who know me a bit better it will not be a surprise that food plays a significant role (and will not be prepared in my own kitchen haha). In general I'll have a good cappuccino first thing in the morning, and depending on whether I'll go to yoga or not, I'll have breakfast either afterwards or together with my cappuccino. Sareh & my favourite spot is a place called Pura Vida where they serve amazing cappuccino and yoghurt with fruit & muesli. Just for breakfast though, because if you can remember from my previous blog: I have the best Thai restaurant (Ying Ying's) just next door - so we have spent quite some afternoons over there.
In between the food moments during the day, time flies by with conversations, reading books, yoga, (sensual) touching / healing workshops, stimulating creativity with colouring and making bracelets, listening to music, brainstorming and organizing activities & our Australia trip, etc. Nothing too active and mostly avoiding the sun, because it has become really hot over the last weeks.
The evenings usually are filled with things like dancing at Ecstatic Dance, going to the Dome (the mystical sauna place), watching sunset at Zen Beach, listening to live music at the Rasta House, watching movies in bed with some wine, shopping & going to the food market in Thongsala, having nice dinners & drinks with friends, and so on!
A couple of absolute highlights are worth mentioning seperately:
- The day before Simon flew back to Germany he came over again to my place and we spent an amazing last 15 hours together. He has a very special place in my heart - being a friend, lover, tantric partner & soul mate all at the same time.
- The crazy party weekend with Sareh & Max at the Tri-bay area. On Saturday morning we made our way to the other side of the island, where we had the luck to find a beautiful little cottage for two nights with the three of us. During the day we have been chilling, dancing & exploring at Why Nam beach with the most beautiful people, atmosphere & tribal music. I couldn't tell whether the music was playing with me, or I was playing with the music ;) Around midnight we made the jungle hike that led us to Eden Garden where we have been dancing the night away, made some great new (party) friends and watched the beautiful sunrise while swimming in the ocean.
- The sunset-until-sunrise balcony session at Arno's place which was the last night of Jaya, Max, Amanda & Sareh. I barely know what to say about it, I'm just smiling to myself and to the universe if I think back at this night full of love and positive energy.
Now I'm back on my own again, having a couple of days left here on the island to again process and integrate all new experiences and adventures. Upcoming week I'll head to Koh Tao where I just booked my 3-day PADI open water diver course. It has never been on my list of things I wish to do, but it was this instant out of the blue spontaneous decision where it popped up in my mind as a possibility and was booked some hours later ;) After that I'll fly to Kuala Lumpur, where I will spend 2 nights at my former colleague Michael & his girlfriend Sarah! From there Sareh & I will fly to Perth where we have booked a campervan with Femke & Alan for 3 weeks for some crazy festival & touring around adventures <3 Exciting!!
Since being an aphantast doesn't let me dream with visuals, I figured I better live my dreams in real life ;)
PS. Do I have anything negative to share ;)? I have some 'less positive' experiences, but I wouldn't want to call it negative.
- My visa extension at Koh Samui, which usually can be done in half a day, ended up in a 12-hour journey with an incredible amount of waiting - but I figured this was a good practice for my patience and a nice challenge to keep enjoying myself.
- Sareh & I had a motorbike accident. But we were very lucky, because I got sand in my eye (sign of the universe?) which made me brake so we were driving very slowly when there was this pile of sand all of a sudden in the middle of the road at night - resulting in only some scratches, one bruised finger, and a broken mirror. Could have been WAY worse, and now we were able to mark the pile of sand clearly so hopefully we prevented other people getting injured in a much worse way when driving at normal speed.
It's really interesting when you start paying close attention to your intuition and all these 'signs of the universe'. Although certain things that happen may seem unpleasant at the moment, very often you can trace back that there was a very valid reason for it too happen <3
PPS. FYI: I can't see who 'likes' my blog with the button below. So either leave a message, like on Facebook itself, contact me privately, or just stay anonymous ;)
Wow it feels like I haven't been blogging for months, but that's just because of the insane amount of things I've done and adventures I've had! I started writing in my travel diary (which I got from my awesome ex-colleagues) only 1.5 weeks ago, but already wrote 46 pages haha.
The last time I wrote I just discovered I have aphantasia, which took me a couple of days to fully accept. The feelings of missing out have mostly vanished, and what remains is the excitement of a new area to discover and explore. I have had many interesting conversations and discussions with friends. Some even 'discovered' to be the entire opposite: a hyperphantast - someone who only thinks in visuals and constantly has to translate words into visuals and visuals into words.
It was great to have my mom next to me while I was going through this process. We had a very relaxed holiday where the stormy weather in the first couple of days forced us to do nothing and stay at the hotel. Our last days together the weather allowed us to go on an amazing sailboat daytrip and on a speedboat daytrip, in which we explored the many islands around Koh Samui, went snorkeling between the Thai Finding Nemo, did kayaking into some caves and got a blue ass from the insanely high waves that we flew over with the speedboat on our way back. Mom's taxi arrived 15 minutes early so we didn't properly 'prepare' for our goodbye, but hey:
"Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart & soul there is no such thing as seperation."
Half an hour after my mom left I was picked up by my taxi to bring me to the ferry which would bring me back to Koh Phangan. I only decided the night before that I was going back there, and while I was on the ferry I had this crazy realization:
For the first time in my (conscious) life I have no idea what I will do in the next hour, the next day, the next week, the next month and the rest of my life.
My belly made some weird somersaults, resulting from a combination of different kinds of emotions by being excited and nervous for the unknown, and being all on my own again.
I arrived at Baan Tai Backpackers hostel where a friend of a friend was working, and where I ended up sleeping 2 nights (or more accurate 1 afternoon and 1 night ;)). Apparently that night was the half-moon party, so an hour later I was drinking cocktails with a whole bunch of new people. My disinterest in the moon parties was shared by a couple of other people and we decided to plan our own adventure. Before I knew it we made the most crazy taxi drive through the jungle towards Haad Yuan area (the hippie paradise with amazing parties - atmosphere comparable to my experiences at Ruigoord in the Netherlands I would say). While dancing the night away in this magical place under the stars in the jungle at the sea, I became aware of the craziness of this adventure at this new difficult-to-reach place with people I only knew for a couple of hours. The sunrise was probably one of the most beautiful and surrealistic ones I have seen - I felt like I was in a Disney fantasy movie. A slight melancholic emotion fell over me in which I missed my closest friends. And then I smiled because I realized again how blessed I am by having these amazing friends and by actually being aware of this.
After potentially the most insane boat trip I ever had, we arrived safely back at the hostel by the end of the morning and I woke up just in time to watch the sunset at the beach. I rented a motorbike (that I still have) and had dinner with my Dutch friends Nikita & Eric, who gave me their key to their paradise cottage in which I could live for the next 4 nights while they went on a trip to Malaysia. The intense happiness I felt at this place made me realize I needed a place like this for myself as well. When I started my search a couple of days later I fell in love with the first place I visited and didn't even bother to look further (funny side note: it's literally next to the best Thai restaurant (Ying Ying's) I have been to, and when I ate there some days earlier with my Australian friend Craig for the first time, I made a joke that I needed to find a place on walking distance from this restaurant haha - thanks universe!). Besides being a tiger crawl away from my favourite restaurant, it's a 2 minute walk to Haad Salad beach, and I have a kitchen, fridge, WiFi and a big terrace with a hammock! What else could one wish for :)
In the mean time I gave my first yoga class, which went great and was so much fun to do! I like teaching a lot more than I expected (did the training with the intention of deepening my own practice, not to become a teacher). After class I had tea with Dima, a Russian born / USA raised guy that joined my class. We had an instant deep connection, with many shared interests. The next couple of days we spent a lot of time together: we had multiple 'ecstatic food' experiences (leading to brainstorm sessions of potentially organizing an ecstatic eating & feeding workshop), he gave me an aquatic bodywork session (some sort of guided floating in and through the water - amazing experience!), we saw multiple sunsets at Zen Beach, we danced ecstatically at ecstatic dance at Jaran's (and went with some others for food & drinks afterwards, which led us to a beach party, and finally ended up at a private after-party in an insanely huge villa (incl. swimming pool) of some friends of my former teacher trainer Satyama), etc.
After I moved into my new house I went for an early dinner with another guy that I met the other night at ecstatic dance, and we went to a blind-folded senses workshop. I did something similar a couple of months ago in the Netherlands, and I very much recommend it! For two hours you don't see anything, while you dance around on music (the organisers taking care you don't bump into the walls), and get to smell, touch and taste different things. It's a very conscious practice in which you really experience how your other senses become much more refined if you take out your sight.
I came back home around ten and spontaniously ended up celebrating my new place at the beach with Craig (the Australian guy who I met at Baan Tai Backpackers and was part of the Eden Garden party crew the weekend before). He recently moved to a hostel on walking distance from my place. We already met up a couple of times in the mean time, and have a beautiful 'spiritual siblings' connection. Both with a business analyst background and sincere interest in exploring the wonders of life and the universe. We decided to head towards the hippie paradise again on the next day for some more crazy adventures. Our initial plan to this time leave in the morning (as the parties there run from Friday night until Monday morning) failed due to a brunch at the 360 degree view bar which got out of hand and led us to explore and swim at the island Koh Ma.
By the time we made it to the Haad Yuan area sunset had already passed. This time we were better prepared compared to the week before though: we brought my hammock! In case we would get tired we could just go sleep wherever we wanted ;). The party at Wai Nam beach was still going, where they played great tribal / jungle music. Later at night at Eden we bumped into our other Baan Tai Backpackers friends - a great reunion.
While I was dancing the night away I met Simon. Our dances merged and this turned out to be the start of a beautiful journey we have been trough together in the week that followed. As he wrote in my diary:
"Live for the moments you can't put into words"
Which is exactly what we have done in our time together. We fell in love in a way in which we could be our real, pure & authentic selfs, in which we were able to get out of our comfort zone, and experience many new things together. From (acro) yoga classes and ecstatic dancing, to naked waterfall swimming and crazy jungle hikes, to beach swims and food porn experiences, and many other magical adventures.
Our paths seperated again yesterday, and I have spent the evening and this morning processing all that has happened in the last weeks. It feels like I am again starting a new chapter of my journey now. In an hour I will have lunch with Sareh (a Dutch friend who's also travelling, just arrived at Koh Phangan, and will also join the Australian burn), and then we will head to Nikita & Eric who give a little house party! Also a great opportunity for them to meet each other, as Nikita & Eric spontaneously decided to also go to the Australian Burn next month!! So excited!!
Curious to hear from all of you to stay in touch with life back home <3
Love, peace, happiness & hugs
Woehoeee I'm officially a yoga teacher! What a journey that has been.. A quarter of the time I have been very sick and I even ended up in the hospital twice (story of my life.. Seriously, in the Netherlands I have never ended up in a hospital as far as I remember, whereas this has been the third time while travelling, all for relatively similar reasons - maybe subconsciously I am actually quite stressed about these huge life decisions which impacts my physical state or so?). All the time I didn't want to give up and carried myself to the classes, even though I ended up sleeping on the yoga mat. It drove me crazy that I couldn't understand what the universe was trying to tell me. Was I not supposed to do this yoga teacher training? The moment that I finally gave up and only cared about my health, I finally got better.
Looking backwards this has (obviously) had quite an impact on the whole experience. Whereas I'm usually a very outgoing and social person, I have been relatively quiet and much more on myself. This has probably made it even more of an inward journey than it still would have been otherwise. For those who think a yoga teacher training is about learning how to physically do the asanas (yoga postures) and teach these to others - it is much much much more than that.
What is yoga?
The formal translation of the Sanskrit word yoga is 'yoke'. Yoga can be described as a disciplined method (which includes a variety of schools, approaches, methods and techniques) that aim to transform the mind, in order to put it under the control of consciousness. Meditation is a very big part of this. The final goal in yoga is this transformation where you become a transmitter of the Divine Consciousness (also called Moksha, Samadhi or Enlightenment).
Our training has covered a very broad range of interesting topics. Besides our 2x/day practices, we had classes about yoga history, meditation, breathing exercises, energy, chakras, anatomy, ayurveda, nutrition, tantra, trance, mantras, Sanskrit, self development, sharings, etc. The group was so big that we were split in two, and my group had 14 beautiful people. The intensity and nature of the program allowed us to reveal a lot of our true self in a short amount of time, which created a close connection within the group. It was beautiful to experience how a bunch of so many very different people were able to connect so well, while probably most of us would not have crossed paths if we were not put in the same class.
Where for some people it may have been quite a shock to realize that the training was about much more than just the physical aspect, I actually expected this and had chosen this school because of it. But being a full-time yogi for almost a month (no alcohol, mostly vegan/vegetarian, early to bed, etc.) I realize again more than ever how this 'yin' side of me needs a very strong 'yang' to balance itself (read: long nights of party, crazy adventures, etc.). And yoga is all about balance right ;)?! So happily enough I have booked some awesome adventures with Olly & Lau to go to Nowhere in Spain in July (yes, I'll come to Europe, and by-pass Amsterdam in July/August too), and to Oregon Eclipse & Burning Man in the US in August!
Until that time I have not really a clue what I am going to do, except the Australian burn in April. Currently I am enjoying a very relaxing holiday with my mom at Koh Samui, where the toughest choices of our day exist of deciding what to eat and drink, and where to get a massage ;) The stormy weather has cancelled our planned boat trips already twice, so we are really forced to just relax and do nothing. Although to be honest, I'm busy 24/7 with thinking about what might be one of the biggest discoveries in my whole life! It's such a thing that I will dedicate a seperate blog on this topic:
This is changing my life. Big time. I'm shocked. Flabbergasted. Overwhelmed. It's surrealistic. But it explains such an incredible amount of things in my life!
What am I talking about?
I just figured out that I have 'aphantasia'. This phenomenon is still very unknown, and has only got a name since 2015. It means I cannot visualise anything in my mind. Nothing. All but black. Of course this is nothing new to me, because I have had (or better said: NOT had) this all my life. What IS new to me, is that apparently 98% of you ARE able to actually visualise things in your mind. Not just metaphoricly, but for real. This (as I just learned now) is more of a spectrum rather than something binary: some people can picture something vaguely with a lot of effort whereas others are able to visualise as vivid as reality! But even with my greatest efforts I am not able to visualise anything at all...
My mom is laying next to me at the beach here in Thailand while I'm typing this, but when I close my eyes I am not able to picture how she looks like. Of course I know that she has blond hair, freckles, and the same length as me. But I know these as (verbal) facts. Just like I know that the beach has sand and the water has waves. But I cannot picture it in my mind.
This explains so many things in my life:
- Why I am great at logical, structural and abstract thinking, but horrible in visualisation of concepts
- Why I am great at understanding and reproducing very complex things, but horrible in improvisation or making up new things
- My lack of any artistic creativity (except when reproducing something that I have seen and learned to do before, and memorized as a verbal step-by-step to-do list)
- Why I am horrible at remembering faces
- Why I barely remember my dreams (and when I do, I only remember the plot in words rather than anything visual)
- Why I do not notice when something has changed in for example someone's (or even my own) house
How come that I found out now?
Well, during the yoga teacher training I experienced more than ever that my brain works very different compared to many people around me. I remember a couple of years ago Tim and I had this conversation about visualisation, because back then I already felt like I was missing out on something. But somehow we didn't get to this point where we actually figured out the significant difference in our mental experiences. The last month I so often had to 'visualise' things that I started to wonder again whether what they meant was more than just a metaphor I always thought was meant when people talked about anything related to visualisation. Scanning your body? Imagining your breath or energy flowing through your body? Picturing myself in a head stand before doing so? No one could actually really do that right? I started to research on the internet and stumbled upon the following article, which literally could have been written by me:
I can barely describe what I felt while I read through this article. So many pieces fell into place, while at the same time I feel sad and upset that apparantly I am missing out on a major thing in life. I have contacted professor Adam Zeman who is currently researching about this phenomenon, and I have completed a questionnaire for his study on aphantasia. My mom also recognizes herself in it, which explains why we haven't noticed anything 'different' during my childhood (and it might be a genetic thing). Whether it also affects my other senses I haven't entirely figured out yet: I am able to recognise certain tastes and smells, but I am not able to imagine a taste or smell without actually experiencing it at that moment. And regarding music: I can get a song stuck in my head, but that is more like a sing the melody myself (which 'sounds like' my own voice) - I can't actually hear or imagine any instruments or music. But also here I have no idea whether anyone can?!
Very curious to hear everyone's thoughts on this topic, and where you think you are on the spectrum of visualisation.
So here I am - freshly arrived at my cottage home for the upcoming month in Koh Phangan! The photo below shows the first sunset from the terrace of my cottage home for the upcoming month ^_^ not too bad...
What a hectic and crazy weeks I have had! Almost a month of free time sounds like more than enough for preparations, but it has flown by. My first week off (before Christmas) was filled up entirely by arranging things like visa, new driving license (seriously, 10 years have gone by already?!), insurance (way more complicated than you might think: most travel insurances have a max of 1 year, and I plan to go longer; besides, because I go longer than a year I had to emigrate and also have no rights for Dutch health insurance anymore, so had to arrange that seperately as well. And emigrate? Yes, I am currently not officially a Dutch citizen anymore!), vaccinations (most of them I already had since my first world trip, but still needed 2 more), moving out, renting out my house, and a whole list of minor but necessary things. And then in the mean time I was having 7 christmas dinners (don't ask me how, I'm even single now!), a birthday, Ballonnenfeest, a 2-day NYE party, a jazz concert, and 4 goodbye dinner/drinks evenings!
Anyhow, I survived, and so here I am! The journey went very smooth, and me & my backpack even managed to catch my second flight while only having 45 minutes stop-over due to an hour delay on the first flight. And although I got some questions about showing proof when I would leave the country again (uh... one-way ticket?), my innocent face and friendly smile helped me to enter Thailand anyway. I was even able to catch an earlier boat from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan than the one I had pre-booked, and the friendly Thai people easily let me change my ticket without any fees. A pick-up was arranged by my yoga school Samma Karuna, where I had my first motorbike experience (a small Thai man who put my backpack between his legs and was barely able to see the road - sorry mam, dad.. ;) had no choice!). I arrived at Samma Karuna around 2PM on Thursday and have been fighting the rest of the day not to fall asleep. My lack of sleep in the weeks before, and a maximum of 4 hours on the flight itself, made me fall in a coma around 6PM.
After a restless night (something with full moon, a new place, no air conditioning and a jet lag combined I guess), I saw the sunrise from the terrace of my cottage while the full moon was also still in the sky. Wow. I'm in paradise! I spend the day relaxing and reading, and met up with my friend Nikita and her boyfriend Eric (who now live on the island) to go for dinner and to a beach party afterwards at Sandboard where we did some conscious ecstatic dancing <3
Ecstatic dance is a freeform conscious barefeet dance where movement expands, spirit activates, boundaries melt, boredom ceases, creativity breaks out, hope happens, beauty flows, communities collaborate, ritual is reinvented & harmony resonates.
For the weekend I rented a motorbike to explore the island. It's basically the only way to get around, as it's all very hilly and too far spread out to walk. The actual exploration failed on Saturday as I bumped into a guy I met the day before at Samma Karuna when I went for lunch at the Karma Kafe, and we ended up spending the next 10 hours with each other. What an inspirational and interesting beautiful soul! His name is Tobi and he's Swiss/German. The conversations we had were so interesting and in line with my current interests of quantum physics and building bridges between spirituality and science, that I wrote down notes that could keep me busy researching and reading for the next 15 months! I will elaborate on actual content at a later stage when I have spend more time on all this =). After our 5 hour lunch we went to Samma Karuna where we joined a get together to 'Dance for Universal Peace' - ecstatic dancing interacting with each other and with beautiful intentions, ending with a nice ceremony on the beach.
Afterwards Tobi & I went for dinner at a restaurant nearby, where I had for the first time in my life a green curry pizza! I never even thought about the possibility of this, and it's awesome: a combination of two of my favourite (ok, I do have many many favourites) meals! The conversations continued and we ended up talking about the universe & astrology and watching the stars at the beach at Samma Karuna.
Sunday I woke up very early (7AM) to do what I intended to do on Saturday: exploring the island! I jumped on my motorbike and felt an intense happiness as I was cruising all on my own, the whole island still asleep. The North-West side of the island (the more spiritual part, as opposed to the parts where the famous full moon parties take place) is relatively quiet now anyway, due to the floodings that have been there just before I arrived (and are seemingly starting from today onwards again...). I visited the northern part enjoying the amazing view with a mango lassi and went into the 'jungle' to three different waterfalls (Whang Sai, Paradise & Phaeng waterfall). Lunch I had at Orion, another yoga school that is also located at the beach with paradise views and surroundings.
Late afternoon we had the opening ceremony of the yoga teacher training course (YTTC) where we briefly got to know each other and learned about the program for the next four weeks. I had dinner at the school's restaurant afterwards where I ended up in a nice conversation with a guy named Paul, from New Zealand (currently living in Melbourne). He's a doctor, and also into alternative medicine, following a beautiful spiritual path to which I could connect and he gave me more food for thought. If I continue my current rate of in-depth interesting conversations I may need more than my whole life to research and understand all of it! Hopefully I can bring all the knowledge I gain to a new life afterwards ;) After dinner I joined him going to the Dome, an amazing magical place with a sauna cave, fire, music and a beautiful atmosphere.
Currently I just finished my first day of the YTTC. The schedule for the upcoming four weeks consists of an hour meditation starting at 7.15AM, two hours yoga practice, two theory classes, another two hours yoga practice, and another theory class. And that 6x a week, with every week an exam, and also a practical exam at the end. Pretty intense ;) But the first day was great! My class mates are nice and the teachers as well. We started off at a nice speed, but I heard that they will increase gradually so I'm curious what's ahead of me!
Hope to hear from you <3
Love, peace, hugs & happiness!!
Is this really happening? Am I really going to make another world trip?
To be honest, when I came back from my first world trip of 8 months in 2010/2011, I would never have thought to ever do this again for such a long time (and probably even longer). Back then it was relatively 'easy' to just take a sabbatical between my Bachelor and Master, without having any major responsibilities. But now...
Giving up a very good job that I have been enjoying so much, while also having a mortgage?
Why are there so many people that do not dare to live their dreams? This is something that keeps me thinking. Of course there are some obvious factors like the environment in which you grow up, and the love & encouragement you receive from your parents, family & friends, which will likely have a high impact on your decisions in life. But even among those that are privileged with their external factors there are just so many people that see all these bottlenecks that keep them from living their dreams, without even realizing that it's their own mind that creates those bottlenecks. Ok, slight detour... But I will probably get back to this at some point, as I would love to be able to help people overcome their fears, control their own mind rather than being controlled by their own mind, and DARE to live their dreams.
So how did I get to this decision to make another world trip?
The motivation to go is quite different from the first time. Six years ago I was mainly curious to just explore the world, without any particular goals in mind. Although exploring the world will always be one of my key interests, my main focus this time will be on my personal development, and how to leverage everything that I learned and hopefully will learn, to help others become as happy with themselves and with their lives as I am.
This more conscious process of self development has started around 2.5 years ago, when Tim & I had our first break-up, while at the same time I started working at Seabury ánd started practicing yoga. Both yoga and my work actually played a key role in coping with the emotional rollercoaster I have been through in the years that followed. Through yoga I got in closer contact with my body and my feelings, while at work I discovered my lack of proper self-reflection. This combination allowed me to go through a steep learning curve, while also broadening my knowledge by reading and talking a lot about it. In the mean time I became interested in spirituality, communities and universal energy (the Zero Point Field), went on a mystical journey to India, started practicing meditation / mindfulness, and now reached this point where this all has become so important to me that I want to have more time on this great quest of understanding.
So I have quit my job as an aviation consultant, and I will go travelling again to have time to gain & share knowledge from all over the world.
My starting point on this new trip will be Thailand. I'll fly out on the 11th of January and I will begin with a Yoga Teacher Training at Samma Karuna in Koh Phangan on the 16th of January for 4 weeks. And after that we will see wherever the universe brings me! Potential plans include going to a regional burn in Australia in April with Evelien, Jorik, Femke, Alan & some other friends, and making a road trip in the US while going to the Oregon Eclipse & Burning Man in August with Olly, Laurien & Joyce. Besides, my mom & dad will come and visit me wherever I am at that point in time, and maybe you will do as well ;)?
Love, peace & hugs,
Ps. For those of you who know me a bit better it's needless to say, but with my open-mindedness, energy and curiousity I tend to end up in a very broad array of crazy, funny, random and unexpected situations. So I hope I can supplement this inner journey with some great adventures and interesting stories ;) If you would like to get updates when I post a new blog, please enter your e-mail address at the subscribe page!
Pps. Please feel free to leave comments, and also update me on what's going on in your life so we stay in touch <3