I am in India! Sweat factor: extreme. Sometimes it still feels surreal that I am here, even though it’s been two months already(!) This place is unreal in so many ways. It’s such a gigantic country and every pocket is entirely its own world. You could come here on a food journey, you could come here on a textile journey, you could come here on a yoga journey. It has everything. I flew into Mumbai, which is a big smelly city but as soon as I got off the plane and the humidity smacked me in the face I was stoked. It took me 25 hours to get here and it was the middle of the night but I had arrived! I stayed in Colaba, which is the touristy area by the water, saw the Taj Hotel and the Gateway of India where I was literally a celebrity and everyone and their babies wanted photos with me, ate at Leopold’s which is where they always hang out in that (very long but must-read) book Shantaram, explored some markets, ordered menu items at random to figure out what things were, and settled into the idea that I was on the road again for five months. I met a super sweet Indian boy who took such good care of me (including telling me all the ways I had already been ripped off in the past 24 hours and coming to the bus station with me to make sure I got on safely), which was the best start to this trip. Such an angel. I wanted to go straight to the beach so I booked an overnight bus (which I was totally overcharged for- rip off number one) to Goa and after two days in Mumbai, off I went to check out this place called Arambol that I had heard all about.
Arambol is a dream. Hippies and music and sunshine and festival clothes and such a relaxed vibe- you can do whatever you want in Goa. It’s a little paradise with dozens of bars and restaurants and huts lining the beach, a drum circle every day at sunset, and an artisan beach market where anyone can set up shop and sell their pretty things. Apparently not THAT many years ago it was a small fishing village so it’s bananas that it’s so bumping now. I had just arrived in town when I ran into a girl I had met at a party in Vancouver- what are the odds! There was three of them so I had insta-friends as soon as I arrived, the best. Thanks, universe! After a few days of funning and sunning, they moved on and I stayed. I went for a few morning beach runs, did some yoga, and vowed to do at least a few of the zillions of workshops they had going on. There was so many! Huge posterboards everywhere with everything from reiki to ecstatic dance to different kinds of meditation, massages of all kinds, hypnosis, sound healing, breathwork, cooking, you name it. They have it. Turns out I didn’t go to any because how could I choose (and mostly I forgot what was when), but I did make it to yoga, sometimes with Indian teachers which is such an interesting experience. So different than our western flows! They seem a bit more… intense than I am used to but super knowlegable and I am sure I will come home with Gumby-like flexibility if I keep it up!
Met a babe, had a love. Ain’t no short term lovin better than a tropical beach paradise love and that is a fact.
I left Arambol and headed to a place called Hampi to meet my Canadian babes. I took a semi-comfortable overnight bus which broke down twice on the way there, smoking engine and all, but they managed to fix it without too much delay. The girls found us a place to stay on Couchsurfing, which turned out to be awesome. Our host owns a (stunning) piece of property where he’s set up a bunch of tents, so we had our own tent which we were *mostly* comfortable in, and then he has a little restaurant on site so you can eat, drink, and chill there with all of the other couchsurfers. There were 20-ish people staying there, so it was a super social environment with awesome people from all over. The only downside was the pumping music until 3am- not the best when you are trying to get up for a sunrise hike to the monkey temple! Hampi is spectacular- the only way to attempt to describe it is a cross between the Flintstones and Jurassic Park. There are boulders as far as the eye can see- mountain ranges of huge rock formations of every size, and you can run and hike and play (and climb- It’s full of babes on bouldering trips), and you truly feel like you are in another world. We met up with two other Canadian chicks and rented bicycles to explore, such a majestic and stunning ride. We checked out a lake that I felt mildly weird about swimming in (because exposed body parts, and also the signs that said crocodiles) but we swam and lived to tell the tale, and then the next day we hired a rickshaw to take us to all of the temples. And the temples- let me tell you. UNREAL! It’s so interesting to think about what went down at these places. They are so big and beautiful and intricate with sculptures and detail and you can just feel the energy as you explore… so surreal. It’s magical. We spent a few days there and then the girls were headed further south and I wanted more beach time, so I said goodbye to them and on my way to the bus station was caught in standstill traffic. Something was going on. There were drummers, marching down the road. There were robed men carrying torches to light the way. There were fireworks, explosions of color igniting the sky. There was a man on a horse, riding regally down the road. I asked the rickshaw driver what was happening and he sighed. “Rich people wedding.”
A FREAKING WEDDING. Amazing. Let it be known that my India goals include attending at least one wedding, as well as being an extra in a Bollywood film. Just putting that out there.
I made my way to a town called Gokarna and made myself at home on the prettiest beach. I spent a week there running every morning, doing yoga every day, swimming, chilling, making friends with all the kids selling stuff on the beach, and even joined the beach market and offered oracle card readings by donation.
At first I was terrified but it was actually so fun. My room was $6 and right on the beach and we
had a great little crew- most of them were from Spain so I practiced my Spanish every day, I barely drank alcohol and I felt great. Except, of course, when you get very badly burned. Such a rookie move.
And of course what do you do when you have been on the health train for a while but take a running leap off of it and back into the party zone. I went back to Arambol and went to way too many trance parties which was the most bizzare experience of my life but an interesting and eye-opening one which made me so, SO grateful for what I have at home! Arambol is such a vortex though, I went back for the weekend and it turned into 11 days! Wouldn’t change a thing though, it was perfect.
After that I was feeling
the need for some serious chill time, so I headed to a place called Varkala in the state of Kerala, super far South with a great beach and tons of yoga. I hunted for a great room (I am a killer haggler- also being a blonde girl helps) so I got a sweet room for a great price and found the best yoga in town. I did my body a favor and found a clean (most important) Ayurvedic spa and spent nine days getting all kinds of crazy treatments. It was always two ladies, I was always naked, and it almost always involved oïl (or rice, or milk, or all three)… I found I was ticklish in places I did not even know about and I felt like a million bucks when I was done. I moved into an ashram after a week because it i
included everything- accommodation, food, and yoga. Ashram lesson: find out what the food and yoga are like before committing. The food was the same at every meal, and Ayurvedic food so no salt, garlic, onion, or flavour. Good for the body though! There were four yoga classes to choose from and the teachers varied wildly so it was interesting. The ashram also offered a yoga teacher training that was only $600USD all-inclusive- I stuggled to figure out if I should stay there and do it (that price!) but it didn’t feel quite right, so I will wait. I also went to a party where they played the best drum and bass ever (and there are rarely, if ever, parties in Kerla- they are actually trying to make it an alcohol-free state) so I was so happy this was happening when I was there! I met a Swiss babe there and hung out with him for the rest of my time in Varkala. He had been there for a while so knew all the best spots, the best! Including… my favorite… the best cheesecake in town! Probably in the country, so that was a treat.
It’s interesting how much each state differs- the language and the rules, the fashion and the availibility of beer- lots of places they would pour your beer into big mugs and you had to hide it under the table. I did a couple more things in the South before I came North but I will save those for later- right now the most AH-MAZING street food and very best chai right outside the door is calling! I am having the best time here. It is magic. The sychronicities are lining up like dominos and everything is flowing perfectly. India might be my favorite. The people I met read Osho and start their day with Snatum Kaur and know things about yoga and spirituality is just woven seamlessly through this culture. They worship mystical gods and believe in karma so the attitudes and behaviour of the people is unlike anywhere else. It is so much my jam! I am a happy girl. I will update soon, missing my babes at home!