Po Nagar Cham Towers and the Long Son Pagoda

Ha Van Hotel has turned out to be pretty awesome. From reception we get a scooter for the day and head over the bridge for some tourist pics. The Po Nagar Cham Towers are old Hindu temples which you can wonder around quite peacefully. You only need to wear long sleeves and pants if you want to enter the towers but they are small and impressive enough from outside.

After this we go straight to the Long Son Pagoda. Following a map, it is pretty easy to spot the giant white Buddha from a distance. It’s a great photo opportunity but be careful of the guy at the bell – I think he had a great time shoving us inside the giant bell (momentary panic that we are about to have all our camera gear stolen) and taking our picture and demanding $10AUD!

After this we head back to a small street market where we find the best seafood in the world ever. No seriously! Oysters BBQ’d on charcoal with herbs, peanuts and a spicy green chilli sauce are so good I have to order more!

We miss the sunshine but spend the afternoon on rented beach chairs in front of the Salining Club before returning to our street for a bottle of rose at La Parisiene (how this amazing French rose can cost less than $10 in Asia is a mystery). I start talking about the idea of cycling this whole country from south to north but Matt seems to think it would be easier on a motorbike. Of course cycling wouldn’t be easy but I don’t do anything just because it’s easy!

We wonder around for dinner stopping at Crazy Kim’s for a 241 Mojito. It is good to read about Kim Le who started the Hands Off the Kids charity and educates victimes of paedophilia from her spa/gym/bar. We finally settle on Truc Linh 2 but the busy staff seem a little flustered and we pay way too much for warm Chardonnay.

On the way back we stop at the Red Apple Club and meet Clair who is cycling from China to Melbourne. She is pretty awesome and seems like just the right motivation I need to get on a bike. We leave the backpacker hotspot and stop at Booze Cruise for a drink but Matt isn’t really making sense anymore so it’s time to go.

Our last day in Nha Trang we spend at the Long Thanh Art Gallery. Thanh is Vietnam’s most prominent photographer and specialises in black and white photography, really capturing the essence of his country in lifestyle photos. It is a small gallery so you really have to read the map well and look for the house number or it is easy to miss. We go to the National Oceanographic Museum but it is kind of boring and I feel bad for the tiny enclosures the two seals live in.

We are taking the night train up to Hoi An and I have taken some cold and flu tablets from the local pharmacy as I was feeling a bit ill and they have completely knocked me about so I am really enjoying being rocked to sleep by the rhythmic motion of the train. I fall asleep quickly and wake up in time to enjoy some of the passion countryside. Next stop: Hoi An.

Nha Trang

We arrive at the airport way too early and then our flight is delayed so we spend about half the day waiting, sitting, shuffling, waiting… When we finally get to the Ha Van hotel in Nha Trang, the staff are friendly and welcoming. I think this place is about $30/night and it is great. Free drink at the rooftop bar on arrival, simple but clean and open room, fridge, air con and balcony overlooking the street. Matty is trying to get himself organised but I throw on a bikini and veritably drag him out the door and down to the beach. I just need to be in the ocean. As we take off our clothes I run like a kid into the water. It’s like a big sandy washing machine and we come out with sand in all kinds of weird places that I won’t mention here.

We attempt to have a quiet night of dinner at Veranda restaurant. It is really cheap ($1-$10USD per main) so we take a chance on the Dalat wine… At a dollar a glass you don’t mind pushing it aside for a cocktail. The food is simple and nice but nothing amazing. I have a calamari salad which is basically seafood, tomato, cucumber and sweet chilli sauce. Matt has garlic bread which I try not to steal. The French influence in this part o Vietnam is really obvious- bakeries and patisseries everywhere! For mains I have mackerel in thick salty oyster sauce (slightly overlooked) and Matt has lamb chops on a polenta potato mash. He scoffs it down and we are ready to move on as soon as I am done. We go for a wonder around and end up at Oasis bar which is right next to our hotel. They specialise in bucket cocktails and shisha pipes. We order apple and mint shisha though I never smoke and the staff keep deciding Matt wants a rum and coke instead of a gin and tonic. I try a Long Island ice tea (old fashioned cocktail menu) but eventually settle on a kamikaze. The open garden of black tables and little puffs of shisha smoke add to the lounge vibe and our bill comes to 1.35million Dong, which is like $70 AUD.

The next morning we get up way too early for our dive. Rainbow Divers are picking us up at 7 so we only have half an hour to have a quick breakfast and grab a coffee on the way out. The morning is clear and bright as we head down to the harbour and board the large wooden boat which is steered masterfully out of the crowd of fishing and dive boats. A large group of tourists is separated into pairs. Some are doing their open water course and others are just snorkelling. We do two dives in total and though the visibility is quite low (5m), especially on the second dive, Anh, our guide, is really great at pointing out all the tropical marine life. We are lion fishes, egg cowries, clown fishes, jellyfish, pipefishes, amazing little Christmas tree worms and feather stars that remind me of Avatar as they snap back into their hard little shell in the coral. We break between dives for a snack and then head out for a second go. It is over way too soon but it was my first real dive since my course so I’m more than stoked! It is nice being on a boat again as we make the short trip back to port.

The afternoon we decide to spend shopping. Usually of the two of us I would say Matt is the shopaholic but today he isn’t finding anything as I hand over cash and fill up my little bag. We stop for street Pho on tiny plastic chairs which barely fit a child let alone a fully grown tall man… In the end we stop at the Sailing Club for a drink (finally real wine) and make a reservation for dinner later in the evening.

Before dinner we stop at a little tea house which we are disappointed to find has only local Saigon beer (not great) and non-alcoholic drinks. It is a beautiful and serene setting with water features and I enjoy a ginger tea with honey that my throat just loves but matty’s beer over ice drunk with a straw fails to impress so we go straight to dinner.

At the Sailing Club, I’m surprised to be a little cold in the evening breeze. The beach is covered in tables and chairs, bean bags and a bonfire which will be lit up later. The passionfruit mojitos are served with a slice of sugar cane which is the best tasting part- there is a weird flavour I can’t identify. For entrees we order rice paper rolls and the traditional seafood pancake. The pancake is amazing! For main we get the seafood platter for 2 which has a whole snapper, BBQ prawns, calamari, scallops and wedges. They serve 2 sauces with the entree and 2 with the main so we have to experiment a little to find out what goes on where. I switch to wine and Matt goes for beer after the cocktails failed. For dessert we order the chocolate banana spring rolls (thighs, forgive me) which is served with a scoop of decadent chocolate ice cream. I’m already planning the exercise and detox regime I’m going to have to do when I get back to Sydney…

After dinner I’m still cold so we move inside to a table right next to the dance floor. The dj probably hasn’t started yet so the music is erratic and odd. When he does begin a bit of a dance party evolves and some local boys start off the floor. We watch as it grows in the space of an hour and an older couple tear it up with the kind of confidence and limitless joy that comes only with age. Our bill comes to 2 million dong (just under a hundred dollars) which is all the money we brought out so we make our way back after our final drink. Overall Nha Trang is beautiful and relaxing with just the right amount of nightlife to keep a pair of young travellers busy.









Burning Soles in Saigon


We arrive into Ho Chi Minh City just after 8pm. Although my super organised counterpart has brought all the necessary visa forms (complete with separate allocations of the required $45 in US currency attached by paperclip), we still join the massive throng of people standing wearily at a small window. Minimal communication, the paperclipped money is thrown back at us and our passports taken, we stand and wait for our names to be called. There is no point complaining; this is Asia. Chaos, a backwards system and eventually we find our bags waiting on the floor of the airport between two belts. It is past 9pm when we finally get to the night market around the corner form our hotel, but we sit facing towards the flow of people as we order some seafood noodles and soup. The delicious food comes quickly but as we start to eat, a loud crash and the scream from a flamboyant transvestite alert us to a crash only metres away. People look, a small crowd gathers, but after minutes the scene dissipates and the flow of the night market continues. We go for a slightly precarious walk to the roundabout (a moat of screeching motorcycles, rickshaws and taxis protects the island) and get a few night photos of the equestrian mounted Tran Nguyen Han, but sleep is tugging at our sleeves so we head back to the hotel. It is already early morning back in Sydney anyway.

A day in Ho Chi Minh

Waking up at 7am, we venture to the rooftop pool and gym before breakfast. The gym is small at the Grand Silverland; only a treadmill and a weights setup and if you don’t turn on the air conditioning on, stiflingly hot. The pool looks out over the city and is beautifully cool without too much chlorine. We head out after breakfast on a walking tour that we are follwing from the Lonely Planet Vietnam guide. It takes us on a loop around past some museums and statues and down near the river. We stop at a gorgeous little cafe on a corner called Kita where I find the best iced coffee I have ever had (Sydney continues to disappoint and yet Asia gets it perfect every time!) before we continue towards the Saigon river where a man stands sketching a boat with focused dedication. Our cameras require a bit of respite as we pass a small Pho cafe off the beaten track. Mostly locals are eating there, but we find a seat next to an English girl who explains that Pho comes in only chicken or beef, but is probably all made with the same meat broth. I guess we could call me a flexible pescatarian when travelling so I order the chicken and try my best to eat around it. When a few pieces find their way into my mouth I am reminded of why I don’t eat it (so chewy!) The herbaceous noodle soup is full of flavour (is that the taste of meat broth?), but I add lime, basil, mint and chilli and even reach across to finish off some of Matt’s. It tastes so good I’m sad it’s over but I am looking forward to eating again! Matt has rubbed his eyes with his fingers after touching the chillis and is quietly suffering as we continue our walk.

We add an extra kilometre on the walk to see the Jade Emperor Pagoda. Out the front you can buy small fish, turtles, flowers or incense to offer up for prayers inside the temple. Just to the right of the main temple an enormous turtle is kept in a caged pool where tourists hand feed it bits of bread. A larger pool is home to the overflowing mass of baby turtles. Smoking incense curls up in billowing waves from sandpots all over the courtyard which is shaded by cascading willow trees. Tourists march through unceremoniously, taking photos and listening intently as a guide explains the history in their native language. An Indian couple try to offer a drink to the many armed deity inside (could be Durga), but their guide roughly takes the bottle from them and insists that he must do it on their behalf. The dark inner temple is overcrowded with candles, wooden carvings that loom out overhead and more incense. The large Jade Emperor statue at the back is surrounded by Mandalas and smaller statues of Buddha. I stop to say a small prayer, however I am jossled back out of the way by another tourist taking a photo so I take a photo too. Some locals sit quietly in the courtyard; it is still a sanctuary despite the tourism. Sometimes nothing can take away from the inherent peace that surrounds a temple. Like the burning incense; the fire of faith lingers past the flash of photography.

On the walk back we head past the Notre Dame Cathedral, taking pictures of the Communist political posters around the city. We stop at the War Remnants museum and take some pictures of the tanks and planes outside. Inside is a guillotine, a barbed wire cage in which prisoners were kept and many gruesome pictures and stories from that shocking time. I like the pictures in the museum from all around the world, showing various cities protesting the US involvement in the Vietnam war. We are about to go upstairs to see the Agent Orange room when a thundering boom of voices starts to rise. The room full of people turns to see where the sound is coming from and with a burst of colour and sound, a door opens and a mass of school children all in lime green pour out of a small room and spread across the floor, crowding the stairs all the way up. We instead venture back outside to look at the enormous bombs. It is a sobering thought that they can kill whole villages and towns of people without discrimination. Our feet are tired so we head back to the hotel for a swim and a change before dinner.

The Bar Hop

At night, the city takes on a new vibrancy and energy uplifted by the rainbow of neon lights. We pass through the Ben Thanh night market where we are the night before. It is past 7pm but they are only just setting up for the evening. Fake designer handbags appear out of boxes and bottles of mysterious alcohol with Scorpions and snakes eerily preserved within. Surely such liquids must possess the power to cure anything from freckles to colourblindness.

At the roundabout we continue down the road noting a Jazz Club on our left. For dinner, we follow the advice of the good book (Lonely Planet) and go to the Temple Club. Just upstairs is a chaotic, loud Vietnamese BBQ clouded by the smoke of sizzling meat and seafood. Luckily we are offered a high table at the Temple Club even though we have no reservation and start with a beer and a caipirinha. We look around at the 1930’s decor, remembering our first date at Uncle Ming’s bar in Sydney which had much the same feel. The menu is long and we are spoilt for choice, jumping back and forth through the pages until we finally decide on deep fried squid and prawn vermicelli rolls wrapped in mustard leaves (usually include pork but the waitress can accommodate). I try to play ninja chopsticks as we wait but my battle buddy is secretly afraid so he doesn’t take up the challenge… The squid arrives first and is very crunchy, accompanied by a thick aeoli sauce but the mustard leaf rolls are beyond divine. Matt is experiencing festivities in his mouth while I try to pick up as much spicy saté sauce as I can with the little green spring roll.

For mains Matt has ordered a plate of pork which he devours in seconds and I attempt to eat the sweet beans atop my Vietnamese steamed fish. Beans and chopsticks- at last the ninja is defeated. Despite the lightness of the food we are full and decide to venture back into the night for further libations. The highly rated Qing wine bar is mysteriously closed. Whether it is for renovations, the holidays or forever we can’t tell so we head down to the rooftop garden bar above the Rex only to be greatly disappointed by the overpriced drinks and corny music. The place is full of dining families and lacks atmosphere. Paying for a view is overrated and our next attempt to find the elusive Cue bar fails so we head down to a place we found online called Voodoo… Matt doesn’t even slow down as the sign outside saying “crazy girls” clearly means working girls. We find the Kita cafe again and I order a Margarita while Matt is befriended by a tiny Vietnamese boy on a yellow tricycle who poses for a photo, chats endlessly in Vietnamese and is fascinated by Matt’s phone. Regardless of the language barrier, this child grows quickly attached, happy to continue his monologue as he pats Matt’s knee. When we stand to leave he takes the bill straight to the counter for us and the whole family waves goodbye. Around the corner, the historic Majestic hotel bar is already closed so we go straight to the nightclub Apocalypse Now. Intense dance music and flashing lights makes me wonder for a moment if I have epilepsy. I’m sure I don’t but we aren’t really feeling this crowd. Perhaps it is the manic dancing from elderly tourists or the scantily clad girls scanning the crowd but we get bored and continue on. By now my soles are burning (should have worn my runners today and not thongs). We head back to the Jazz club as I prophesy the irony of ending up at the very first bar we spotted after all that walking. The atmosphere is just what we have been after at the Jazz club and I am more impressed by the drinks than the music- they are skilled an enthusiastic but Matt says the drummer is missing “feel”. I do have faith in the bartender but the bar closes far too soon as the waitress tries to sell the sax player’s cd. We walk back with aching blackened feet and lay down with relief feeling we did our best to cover as much of Ho Chi Minh as we could.


Jade Emperor Pagoda


Ben Thanh Night Market


War Remnants Museum


Walking Tour, Ho Chih Minh Market


One of those mysterious laws of the universe where my camera and I struggle with aperture, ISO, shutter speeds etc… and then the iPhone takes a perfect shot


Jade Emperor Pagoda


Waving from the rooftop pool of the Grand Silverland to some Vietnamese school girls on a balcony across the road


our first Photo Date

January – New Year, New Look, New Bliss Project

This year the 365 Days in Bliss has changed slightly. Each month I will be doing something new for the whole month, blogging about the journey and updating my experience. Last year, the necessity to blog everyday was a huge commitment and when work made it difficult, I started to stress a bit. This was completely counter-productive to the purpose of the blog so this year, doing a monthly project gives me a bit more freedom to write as I go and still offer up a bit of Bliss Exploration as the journey continues. For the month of January, I have decided to take a picture everyday. I have already found a couple of days where this has become difficult; I either almost forgot or just took a random picture out of necessity. There are also some days where I find more than one thing I want to take a picture of, so I have included multiple pictures where I found it necessary. The idea is to find the aesthetic beauty of each day. In the meantime, here are the first 9 days of photos. Tomorrow we leave for Vietnam so I can imagine the next ten days of photos will be FULL of amazing shots!

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The 365th Day

It has been an amazing journey, to say the least. If I think back to the person I was when I thought up this whole idea there are many ways in which I can say that I have changed. I remember standing in the café I was working at, around this time last year and thinking there has to be more to this life than this work and misery cycle. I thought I was saving my money to go back to Indonesia, but I never made it back to the boat where I had spent the previous two years. What happened instead was that I took the first step towards my true self and from there on was led to some of the most life-changing places, moments and people I have ever known. I remember being the kind of girl who was hiding behind her long hair, a little uncertain of her place in the world, insecure, anxious, with no conception of who she was. I had lost my sense of self in a co-dependent relationship and had stopped listening to my inner voice. I remember when I began meditating, how difficult it was to get through five minutes! I was detached from reality, unconscious of the pulsating rhythm of life. I remember being the kind of person that was surprised by spontaneous happiness. What kind of human condition has set us on course to accept infinite sadness as the norm?

I was supposed to be getting married, settling down and becoming the quiet and sedate house[boat]wife. Instead, a tiny voice inside told me to go to India and as I waited for the plane to Mexico, I booked a one-way ticket to Delhi. It was the greatest feeling, knowing I had finally made the decision to go somewhere alone, knowing that I was finally directing my own life. Even as I travelled through Mexico, I remember feeling like I was being dragged along on someone else’s trip. I wasn’t the leader on my own path until I separated from that situation, that person and from the expectation that people around me had.

That pinnacle turning point of the break-up, where I had stood in front of my fiancé and watched him cry and scream and all I could hear was that tiny voice inside telling me I was doing the right thing. To watch another human being suffer is always hard; to know that you have caused their suffering is even harder. Had I stayed, I would have withered and died. I was lost and unhappy in that situation and although there will always be good memories from that time of my life, I never once doubted my decision.

Celebrating the Hindu new-year in the Gedong Ghandi Ashram in Bali, a day of silence showed me how useless all these words had become. I had been to that ashram once before at the beginning of that relationship and then I returned there at the end, the whole experience framed in time by a sense of peace and a reminder that I could only walk this part of the journey alone, because I was all that I needed. Shaving my hair off was like the final shedding of the old self, the abandonment of ego, vanity and superficiality. It also made travelling really easy when I didn’t have to carry around shampoo and conditioner.

Going straight into the Sadhana Mandir ashram in Rishikesh, India, was a confronting and liberating experience. Our teacher, who I aptly named Rafiki after the wise witch doctor baboon from The Lion King, was full of energy, three letter acronyms and bewildering enlightenment. He tore apart our social conditioning and handed us back, bare and naked to see truth in ourselves. I remember crying in the temple, begging Swami Rama to make sense of it all. What was I doing here? What had I done? I just shaved my head and broke off my engagement to come here and be yelled at for closing my eyes when I meditated. All those questions were never answered; they simply became obsolete. I will never forget the coolness of the holy mother Ganga as I stood in the blistering hot sun, a light veil over my head, feeling the coolness creep up from my feet. Or the colours of pink and purple in the dawn as I let my hair go with the current of that holy river. When the course in the ashram was over, climbing to the source, to the Gaumukh glacier I faced the divine and saw only love and forgiveness. After trekking for 19km up to 4000m in altitude, I felt like I had to offer this place something of myself, so I threw in my engagement ring and let go of my old self, of that old life.

Everyone I met in India became shining beacons of hope. I had gone through an incredibly emotional time by myself, with little contact to the outside world, so each of those friendships were connections to the divine. I started to see the light in every person I spoke to. Suddenly the world was shimmering as though it was on fire; I could see life force in everything.

Coming back to Sydney was hard. I felt displaced. I no longer had a room, had lost friends because of the last relationship and was in a kind of limbo about whether to stay or just go back to India or skip on over to Africa… until I met Krystle. My best friend, the strong independent and slightly crazy woman who loves herself so fiercely she barely needs anyone else. But she has me.

Working in bars again was completely against my yogic lifestyle, but I was now entering the Persephone phase. I had to spend some time in the darkness re-planting the seeds of my life so that I could once again grow into the light. I had to explore my shadow side to understand every side of me. What I found was an incredible resilience and strength. I camped in the snow and hauled a sled full of human waste up a 2km slope, carrying a 10kg pack. I ran the City 2 Surf, a 14km race that I had never even thought about before. I looked at a new job as a wine rep and just went for it, with enough confidence to just take it. Anything I wanted, I could manifest. I made mistakes and I forgave myself. More importantly I learnt how to love myself unconditionally. Even when the rest of the world turned against me and started to criticise my life choices, I couldn’t help but be grateful for every moment.

And then it happened. Just when I was telling someone that I wanted to stay alone and single for ten years… I met him. I resisted and struggled against the most powerful force until finally I realised that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. In that funny little place called love. The universe had not steered me wrong and as long as I listened to my inner voice (which had by now become a lot louder), I wouldn’t get lost again. I sat by the south boat ramp in Malabar, a place I had called home for years, and told Matt that I loved him. And he loves me. He is the kind of person that wakes up with laughter every day, who is so full of light that he can make the world smile just by entering a room. In this person I see reflected all the things I love in the world; goodness, purity, energy. And he is the yin to my yang. He is organised and tidy while I lean towards chaos and erratic disorder. He keeps me grounded when I am in danger of floating away and maybe I add a touch of flight where he is in danger of being too structured… We fit together in every way and I am no longer so terrified of this love. I have managed to let go of fear, of future expectations and past projections. Just being in the now, I can see that there is nothing to be afraid of.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on meditation, or yoga. In fact, I gave up teaching yoga the more I learnt about it, until I felt that I could teach in an authentic manner. I don’t pretend that my spiritual journey is over or complete. All I know is that I had to lose everything in order to gain everything. I had to delve deep inside my lightest and darkest and most honest moments in order to truly learn how to love myself. I had to learn to be happy alone. From the person that was constantly surprised when happiness would creep up, I now wake up and am overcome with joy and gratitude for everything that I have in my life. I am awake, conscious and aware of each breath.

I learnt a lot about myself and about the world this year. I learnt that to find peace, I have to stay in the NOW. The past and future do not matter and there is only ever this moment. I learnt that gratitude and manifestation are valuable tools in the pursuit if happiness. I learnt how to become aware of my breath and use it as a tool to keep me anchored into the present. I learnt that emotional energy is the same below the neck; that the mind has a strong influence over our experience over the world and when we learnt to harness it, we can choose the course of our lives. I learnt that to walk the path toward spiritual learning is not always straight and narrow, but wide and curving, up hill and through dark forest. It may not always be clear but when you allow the inner voice to be the guide, it is easy to find the way. I learnt that the only two certainties in life are death and change and to embrace change is to accept the natural flow of the universe. I learnt how to exist in this flow so that I no longer feel resistance to the universe.

And I learnt that nothing is more powerful than love.

At the end of each year I write down my achievements for the year and some goals for the next year. It is always interesting to see how much I have achieved from the goals of the previous year. I found this list and I can tick the 365 Days in Bliss, I also wrote GO TO INDIA! Big tick there… I also found a page at the back of a diary I wrote in last year:

When I woke up today I lay in bed and witnessed my breath. Drinking in te prana, I found stillness and the highest form of meditation, I felt momentary Samadhi; bliss.

If someone came up to me and said, “Who are you?” my answer would be silence.

To just BE is who I am.

So Hum.

I also make a point to write down my gratefuls. I don’t think I could list them all. I am grateful for everything. From this loving man beside me to the sun shining on my leg, to the air in my lungs. This year may have started off as a search, a struggle for bliss. Now it is easy to recognise bliss all around me, to see the divine in everyone and everything, to make every moment sacred. What began as a meditation separate from life has turned into making life a meditation.

Finally I would like to thank all of the people who helped me this year. From my friends and family who were encouraging and kept avidly reading throughout, to the teachers who came into my life and made an impression. I would also like to thank all of those who donated to the I-India project when I cut my hair and to the beautiful people at I-India for showing me around the projects. Also thank you to Sascha and all the girls form Yogatime for accepting me as a teacher when I got back from my travels, to Rosie and all the girls at Embrace for their friendship and help with meditation tools and finally to my mum for… everything. From the bottom of my heart and soul I express deep gratitude and honour for this journey and to myself for having the courage to turn up every day and make something out of nothing, and to be brave enough to write about it with open honesty.




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Day 364 – the next 365 days

I was looking at the calendar, realising that I must have missed a day in transit since it was a leap year and I have somehow only come out with 365 days instead of the 366. I know that I lost a lot of hours travelling, but it is a little surreal to realise I have lost a whole day! Well, I started out by calling this blog 365 Days in Bliss, not 366 Days in Bliss. So maybe in a way, I already knew. Thinking of next year, I didn’t really want this to just end tomorrow with a final post, a final full stop. I decided to make 2013 count by learning something new every month. I had already been toying with this idea, having booked in for my motorcycle license and considering signing up for French classes. What has finally appeared as a bit of a sign, is this video on TED by Matt Cutts, Try Something New for 30 Days. The point is that you can do anything for 30 days. If I could meditate, write and blog for 365 days, then a month is nothing! So now I just have to come up with 12 ways to change my life for the better… I certainly wouldn’t be the first person to try this but it will be interesting to see how many skills I can learn in a year…

Day 363 – the gods and goddesses

When I say god, I don’t know if I am talking about the same figure that is presented in church or in the bible. I feel like there is a more intimate divinity to which I speak when I pray. In India, when people say ‘Namaste’, it is a greeting that recognises the inner divinity in each of us. The light within me recognises the light within you. I spend a day in front of the television as it is so painfully hot in Brisbane. For some reason I seem to come across show after show about god. The old Moses movie is on and then Hercules. This leads me to think about Persephone, the goddess of the underworld, and Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of Love, War and Sexuality. Going back to so many religions there is a god for everything, even a servant god, Hanuman, in India who represents Bhakti yoga- the yoga of love and devotion. They say there are as many paths as there are people to walk them. Each person has their own relationship and opinion on who they pray to, if they pray at all. None can be wrong, as long as the faith there connects us to something which can bring happiness, fulfilment and awareness. Regardless of name or purpose, each god is just an aspect of the inexplicable divine. And if there is a valuable lesson to learn from this year, is not to complicate it with words. Silence is the path within. The divine doesn’t need the story. It already knows the ending.

Day 362 – happy hippies

Is is the Tibetan Prayer Flags that give it away? Or the attempted mud hut in the backyard overlooking the jungle? It could be the Alex Grey pictures that IMG_6184make so much sense to spiritually minded people. The Ganesha, Buddha and stone Aztec calendar all contribute to the vibe around the caravan but it is the word, LISTEN, painted on the tree that gets my attention the most. In the same way my excessive jewellery, tattoos and flowing clothing seem to mark me out, it is always a bit fun when someone who has never chanted with Hare Krishnas can turn around and blatantly label you as a hippy. To me, this is just how I am. This is how my friends are. Walking around barefoot makes more sense than high heels. Meditation groups make more sense than group sports. The hippy whose dwelling this was comes with me through the supermarket as we search for lentil burgers, discussing giving up fish as the final step toward becoming a true vegetarian. We both agree that cheese would be the hardest thing to give up. Because vegans are just intense, man. I guess if all this is what makes me a hippy, then I am a hippy. Light up the incense, pull up a djembe and sit on the bare dirt cos we are about to fry up some haloumi.

Day 361 – simply truth

I am guilty of overcomplicating certain matters. I know how easily I can turn a tiny thought into an enormous problem in my mind within seconds. Ever see me with that vague, far away look in my eye and it is pretty much already happening. I can let a seed of doubt grow a trunk and spread into branches and vines of mess in my mind until it feels like an overcrowded jungle with no space to let the light in. When we go to dinner and Mr “why/howcome/whatfor?” Six has more than enough questions to keep us answering for ages. What amazes me is how openly he can ask questions that adults would shy away from. But what is more amazing is how much the answers make more sense when they are simplified for him to understand. There is no fluff, no euphemism, no bullshit. Simple words, simple answers. Suddenly the jungle is cleared up and the light breaks in. Life and death are not so complicated. Some things just are the way that they are and peace is all about acceptance. In India, when I met Rupali, and told her that I didn’t smoke and refused a drink, she told me that she liked my simplicity. I guess I am a little more simple when I am travelling anyway, when everything I own fits into a duffel bag and when I can’t even say that I have a job. Well, I am on holidays now. I only have that duffel bag with me. I haven’t even bothered carrying around my handbag- which suddenly makes me realise how superfluous everything in it truly is. What a city thing, this handbag is, full of useless trinkets and objects that seem so essential to me in Sydney. And I don’t have a job anymore. I have decided not to go back. So here I am, back in my simplicity and there is a lot of light on the jungle floor.

Day 360 – boxing day

When I was a kid I always thought that boxing day was the day you had to pack all your new toys back into the box and not touch them, just to make sure you were really grateful for what you got for Christmas. It sounds like something an older sibling would put me up to, but I remember my mum just playing along with it, while I sat staring wistfully at my box of new toys. Eventually I would cave and beg mum to let me play with just ONE.

As I got a little bit older I was told that boxing day had something to do with boxing kangaroos. Today is the day they would meet up in the bush and have a boxing match.

Today I spend a few blissful minutes with Alfred Lord Tennyson, reading one of my favourite love poems, The Miller’s Daughter. I think if I create a new tradition for boxing day, it would be to read a poem in silence. That would tick a box for me.


A love-song I had somewhere read,

An echo from a measured strain,

Beat time to nothing in my head

From some odd corner of the brain.

It haunted me, the morning long,

With weary sameness in the rhymes,

The phantom of a silent song,

That went and came a thousand times.

A trifle, sweet! which true love spells

True love interprets right alone.

His light upon the letter dwells,

For all the spirit is his own.

So, if I waste words now, in truth

You must blame Love. His early rage

Had force to make me rhyme in youth

And makes me talk too much in age.

– Alfred Lord Tennyson, The Miller’s Daughter

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