Wondering what I have been doing all these weeks? Presenting, for your reading pleasure and maybe bucket lists, a slightly overdue update on my adventures. And an adventure it has been!
I left off in the south- when I reluctantly left the beach in Varkala after two weeks of yoga and Ayurvedic treatments, I headed to the ashram of Amma, the hugging saint. If you haven’t heard of her, you should google her- she tours around the world giving hugs. For real. Apparently it is changing lives all around the globe, and she also does a ton of humanitarian work. When she is home, you can find her at her ashram where she gives darshan (hugs) to the thousands of devotees and visitors residing there. The ashram is gigantic, it’s like the size of a village. She was actually born there and the house she grew up in is now a small meditation temple. Unfortunately, she was touring around India when we arrived so the ashram was a bit quiet- Amma brought her 800-person crew on tour with her. Squad commitment! However, I met a pair of super awesome twins
at the train station on the way there and we had a really great time- went swimming in our clothes (as you have to in India, such a strange feeling), saw a vedic astrologer (he told me a lot of interesting stuff I can elaborate on later), did a tai chi class, laughed way more than you are supposed to laugh at an ashram and got caught in a tropical torrential downpour. Highlight of the downpour- someone handed us an umbrella and explained how to use it: “this is for the sun, but you can use it for the rain.” Classic India.
The ashram is $5/day which includes your accommodation and three meals. They also have all kinds of other (super cheap) food you can purchase, as well as shops and activities. It’s a pretty cool place, so eye-opening to see how devoted people are to this woman. You are required to do ‘seva’ every day, which is volunteering your time to do something around the ashram- it could be anything from helping with compost to working in the second-hand shop. We decided to try something super fun and stuff envelopes! Someone’s gotta do it. It was a really interesting ashram experience and maybe next time I can get a hug.
After a few days there, the girls and i decided to hop on a boat to Ko Chi. Of course, we are in India, so after two phone calls to confirm there was indeed a boat, we waited for an hour only to find out there was no boat. Typical India. We hopped in a taxi and made our way to our hostel which had the most comfortable beds I have seen in India, with actual pillows and air conditioning! Dreamy. We slept like babies then woke up early to do a boat ride through the backwaters.
I was dreaming of cruising on a houseboat, something large and loungey… or at the very least it would have a motor. We ended up, however, in a canoe. And it was perfect- all day we just cruised through palm-fringed passageways lined with little shacks and people were just doing their thang in the water- laundry, bathing, dishes. It was a beautiful day and I feel so blessed to have met these girls! I had literally just asked the universe for friends I could laugh with and that is exactly what I got.
The next day, I flew to Pushkar which is where I left off- land of the best street food and very best shopping. The ride from the airport was hectic- I was sharing a taxi with a girl I met and our driver took a ten-minute shortcut speeding down the highway towards oncoming traffic- only in India! But you’re not even scared, you just casually note what is happening and trust that it will be fine, and it is. The thing about driving in this country is that since there are no rules,
everyone is a pretty good driver. You gotta be aware of everything around you at all times so you’re always alert. Dodging the cows is a true art form. You notice the difference from south to north right away- it is far more hectic here, more horns and cows and motorbikes, and way more garbage. It was so nice to start in the south! The trash in this county is overwhelming- it is normal to chuck trash off the bus into the streets, and animals are always munching on plastic. It is heartbreaking. However, cows are holy in this country (hence them ruling the streets) so people often feed them which is lovely. I haven’t eaten meat in months and I can’t imagine I ever will again- seeing all these beautiful animals roam free and having so much of India be meatless makes you wonder why our countries are so full of carnivores.
Anyways- we arrived unscathed in Pushkar, which is such a cute town- it has a lake in the middle of town and restaurants overlooking it for some really pretty views. It is one of many holy towns in India so you won’t find any meat, alcohol, or eggs. I went there for Holi festival to meet my first boyfriend ever who happened to be in India and another mate from home. Canadian reunion! It was so great to see some familiar faces. The ‘hotel’ we booked (due to the craziness of Holi), turned out to be a dirty dungeon hellhole but there was literally nowhere else to stay so we grudgingly spent two nights there before we found a new spot. One pro: it was 20 minutes outside of town and was right beside a beer store and an omlette-maker. Small success!
We got ready for Holi not knowing what to expect and made our way into town for the insanity. It is the day they celebrate winter turning into summer, and darkness into light and basically it is a huge street party where everyone wipes bright colours all over each other with the intention of getting as colourful as possible. Your clothes get ruined, it never washes out of your hair and you get touched in places you don’t want to be touched but it is all part of the experience. Everywhere you looked, someone was getting their shirt ripped off and with hoots of glory, was added to the hords of ripped shirts lining the streets. We scaled a wall onto a rooftop (later we found out there was stairs- duh) and took in the view of the streets below: wall to wall mobs of colour all dancing to, what else, trance music. Sun shining, colours flying, indians raving- such a sight to see. Such an interesting experience- I don’t know if I would call it enjoyable exactly but i am so happy to have been there. So many other people I met earlier on my trip had migrated to Pushkar as well, so it was so awesome to have friends everywhere! And the shopping- I bought some pretty things and sent them home and they will be for sale upon my return- heads up! My Swiss babe from Varkala came to Pushkar to meet us and then we all went to Udaipur, another spot in Rajasthan.
Udaipur is a city (which generally I try to avoid when traveling) but it was cute- the tourist area is full of little laneways and rooftop restaurants and palaces and a really pretty lake. Corey knew a local guy who not only took us to the most insane local thali restaurant but on a motorbike ride out of the city and through these epic mountains- local secret! So beautiful and amazing to be outside with mama nature.
Unfortunately, Swiss babe and I both contracted the dreaded Delhi belly that day which rendered us bedridden for a couple days, and then weak and pretty useless for a few days after that but it’s India! Par for the course and our bodies probably needed some downtime after so much exploring.
Rajasthan is cool- it’s lakes, palaces, forts, shopping and desert, but SO HOT right now! I wanted to do a camel safari and spend some time in the desert but could not imagine mid-day heat with no body of water nearby… so I will have to sleep under the stars somewhere else!
We made a move to a little town called Bundi, checked out a fort and drank the most delicious chai in India, and then headed to Jaipur, the “pink city.” I was still sick and Jaipur was so hectic but we did manage to do some sight-seeing, including accidentally ending up in the back of a jewel shop with a really intense clairvoyant Indian man who told me a lot of crazy things about my life. Usually I love this stuff but it was actually a bit unsettling, and of course he tried to sell me jewelery after, but he had some good insight and made me think a lot. And no, I didn’t buy anything there, although I have been thinking about emeralds ever since!
After a few days in Jaipur, Swiss babe headed to a silent retreat and I made way for Delhi. My Indian friend I met in Goa lives there so I had great friends and a place to stay! Was such a good visit. He took me to the Taj Mahal which is just as spectacular as you think it is, and in general took really great care of me. Such a gem. I was ready to leave the city after a few days though, so to Rishikesh I came!
Rishikesh is a(nother) holy town on the Ganges River and the foothills of the Himalayas. It is absolutely freaking beautiful. Magical. It is also the land of yoga with literally hundreds of yoga
schools and studios everywhere so you have your pick. There is tons of great food and tons of the stuff i love: workshops on everything i want to do- tantra, sound healing, reiki, massage and astrology, to name a few. I spent a week enjoying everything there is to do here (like beachside Ganges dips and waterfall visits), ran into some friends, made some new ones, then found a yoga school i wanted to call home.
I have actually just finished my teacher training- WAHOO! One of the best feelings ever, it was such a crazy month. I will have to sit down and write an entire post about that experience, but first, I owe myself some serious relaxation time. I am coming to the last leg of my trip- I will be home in six weeks! Just enough time for a few more adventures and to eat as much Indian food as possible.
Sending love to all you beauties at home!xo