Back from the boat

Sunday, Jan 16, 2017

On the drive from our hotel to the boat we picked up 4 other passengers… 2 from Finland, one from Sweden and one from Australia (but born in Ireland).

The boat can take about 20 people… but there are only 14 of us… 11 divers and 3 snorkelers. The boat is small and comfortable. We all share 4 toilets – each toilet has a hose to wash with after using it and toilet paper to dry off… the paper then goes into the garbage (not in the toilet).

 

Before taking off they dropped a nice bowl of fruit in the water as an offering to the good spirits, then lit fire crackers to scare off the evil spirits. It took about 4-5 hrs to get to our location… we were happy not to get sea sick along the way. The boat finally anchored at about 2am. And then the motion was just a gentle wave. Our bed room is very small as expected.   The bottom floor is the engine room…we haven’t been down there. The next floor (water level) has the rooms, bath rooms, and kitchen. In the rear is all the snorkel and scuba diving

The next floor is an area to relax and have meals in the back and a small smoking section in the front. The top floor has coaches for relaxtion and mats to stretch out or exercise?

Morning #1: up at about 6am… up for coffee and a banana, and then an hour of the most beautiful snorkeling Annie and I have ever experienced. It wss just the two of us with our guide in the little dingey boat. Then back to the boat for breakfast.   This is everything we hoped for. There’s no WIFI or G3-G4 internet so we’ll post when we’re done with this trip in 4 days. Unless we find a pocket of signal.

We went back for 3 snorkeling adventures to day and one visit to a beach. The fish and coral are beautiful and it’s surreal and peaceful to be swimming among them. I tried taking phoros with the iphone underwater… but I haven’t gotten the feel yet. Somehow I set it on video, timer, square pictures, and time delay and can’t figure how to turn it back to regular. So we can’t share these images with anyone, but we’re enjoying them.

Another fun element is sharing this experience with a multi-national group of divers – mostly Scandinavians.   One of the Danish guys was having fun trying to get me to say some Danish words… words that use sounds not found in English. I tried… we both laughed.

I tried writing each day… figuring I’d post when we got a signal….  We never got on.  So now that the trip is done, I’ll post this from the first day out (I never got further.)  We’ll put pictures up later….  but we may not have an internet connect for the next 5 days again… we’re off for a desert island.

The bottom line, the snorkel boating trip was a wonderful fantasy that gave us everything we dreamed of.  We’re in a jungle hotel now (we can take a canoe down the river to watch elephants bathing – we arrived later tonight, so we’ll do that in the morning before we leave).   If by any chance we get disappointed in the rest of this trip, coming back to this hotel and spending the rest of our time in Thailand here would make us happy campers.

https://www.agoda.com/bangpling-nature-home-stay/hotel/khao-lak-th.html

We promise – pictures and back up stories will follow… but maybe in a week?

Last day at Surin Beach

Monday January 9, 2016

My new bikini, swim shoes and swim suit for my iPhone. Finally a sunny day!
The 2 days of rain are Over!!

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Our afternoon stroll in Phuket, Thailand took us past a tattoo parlor and I bought a beach towel. Then we stopped for a fresh juice and settled down for dinner in a funky place right out of GilIigan’s Island. Coconut soup and Pad Thai noodle. On our walk back to our pad we stopped at the beach to watch the sunset. Yipee

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Allynn’s 2-cents for the day:
This morning we went out early to the beach (a 5-minute walk).  There’s a break in the rains that’s been going on for the past 2 days.  We were among the first to hit the water.  I wanted to try our new waterproof bags for the iPhones so we wouldn’t have surprises in the next days when we take a 5-day boat excursion for snorkeling.
The waters were more wavy than I felt comfortable with, but we went in near the rocky side of this cove (because that’s where the fish are).  The waves did what I was hoping they wouldn’t and we got banged up a bit against the rocks.
Just some scratches, bruises, and very minor cuts.  Tomorrow morning we’ll see if these little pains are history.  (the good news… the iPhones are fine… the bags work).  In the the late afternoon we have a 2 hr drive to our pier.
I spent a good part of the day booking our hotel (where we can kayak in a creek to watch elephants) the night the boat excursion is done, arranging for a 4-day excursion on an almost desert island for the next 4 nights, then a flight and hotel up north in Chiang Mai.   I feel like a travel agent on the move.
Along the roads I kept seeing beer in bottles with signs “Gas for sale”.  While walking a couple blocks from our hotel today I got a closer look.  These beer bottles are filled with Gasoline…. and there’s a funnel to help pour the gas into your motor cycle or car.  That was a surprise.

Another Rainy Day in Paradise

Sunday, January 8, 2017
After shopping yesterday for our upcoming snorkel trip, I wanted to rehearse my new water shoes and water shirt so we took an early swim in the sea and snorkeled by the rocks. What a great way to start our day here in Paradise! Because it was raining we had the beach pretty much to ourselves. I love my new water shoes and the shirt is protection against the sun . It felt pretty good too. We went via taxi to a huge shopping mall a half hour away yesterday- a cultural surprise – the same shops we have at home and the same prices too.
Sunday- I hear about the snow at home – I feel so grateful to be in this
tropical land. After a very leisurely brunch I did yoga and a drawing. It continued to rain all day but it was so relaxing to just hang out in our hotel room and to hear the rain on the roof. About 5:00 I stepped out next door and relished in receiving a Thai massage  followed by a Thai dinner with Allynn. Not a bad day in Paradise.
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Rainy Day – seen by Annie

January 7, 2017
A rainy day in Phuket We drove in a taxi to a shopping mall to purchase some provisions for our 5-day up-coming snorkeling trip. I wore my boots, rain pants, and rain jacket. I came prepared for rain and I was glad to have a chance to try all this stuff on . Once in the store I felt like an over- stuffed panda bear but when we came out it was still raining and I was glad to have it all on.  Traveling can be so complicated but it has it’s really fun moments. I just wonder how my body will adapt to a diet of Pad Thai Noodles! It’s my fave and they have it everywhere here- also the coconut soup. What a travel perk!  My husband keeps me laughing and it’s a good thing we get along well because we are glued together at the hip.
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rainy day

Saturday Jan 7, 2017

It’s a rainy morning.  The weather forecast was showing rain for this area for these weeks, so I was a little nervous coming here to snorkel.   But it’s felt like the song in Camelot – the rain’s only been coming during the night time (except for this morning… but it will probably clear up soon, I hope)

Last night I was trying to find a hotel for the night we finish with our upcoming 5-day snorkeling boat adventure.  The next day we’ll be going to a remote Island Eco Resort further away.   I kept looking, trying to find a place as close to the remote Island as reasonably possible and where 1) the boat people could leave us off the afternoon of Jan 15 and 2) where the Remote Island place could pick us up on Jan 16.   I found a place that looked good, and reasonably priced.  I wrote to the two organizations to see if the logistics would work (but it was late at night when I was doing this research).   The boat people got back to me saying this location was fine and they could drop us off there on the 15th.  The hotel site said there was only one room available (they only have 4 rooms).   I assumed it would work out and broke it before going to sleep.

This morning I got an email from the folks at the remote island eco lodge…  this “hotel” is out of their way, and they can’t arrange a pick up there on the 16th.   Now for plan “2” (do we have a plan “2”?)

I’m comparing  this hotel with the remote island eco lodge and this hotel looks pretty good to me – it looks remote, there’s no additional fee to hop a boat to get there (we’ll already be there), and the daily cost is much cheeper.  Why leave one paradise to go to another paradise?  I’ll look today to see if we can stay there for maybe 3-5 days and forget the original plans.

I feel like Fagan in the musical Oliver –  “I think I need to think this out again!”

https://www.agoda.com/bangpling-nature-home-stay/hotel/khao-lak-th.html

Second thought (or 3rd… maybe 4th or 5th?) we might get tired of the elephants after a few days and be ready for new sites?

It’s still raining and it’s lunch time.  This makes a quiet non-beach day.

An interesting observation – we’ve run into very few Americans…  many Russians, Europeans, Chinese…  but few Americans.  I guess for those wanting to get to the beach, Costa Rica, The Caribbean, Florida, etc are so much closer.  With so few Americans, I’d expect the music played by most of the local places would be Thai (for the flavor) or music from the majority of the tourists…  but no, it’s American music from the 70’s – 90’s.

 

rest and prep day

Thurs, January 5

How can you have a day to relax without an ice coffee….  Answer – not easy for Annie, so she had 2 with lunch.

We took a walk thru town and got lost.  We must have walked 3 miles or so.  Along the way we saw an outdoor gym where a dozen or so men and boys were practicing kick boxing.  It looked like little shacks were set up so they could live there while studying there.

Also along the way we stopped in a few shops and passed a few kids.  It gave me a chance to work on reducing the 20 pounds of balloons I brought along this trip.

At this store, the owner was “impressing us” with the fact his mother is 72 years old (we didn’t want to let him know we aren’t far behind her).

No story with this statue… but it was along our walk.

I didn’t get to drink this ice coffee (it was Annie’s second) but she let me pose with it.

I spent a good part of the day setting up our upcoming 5-day snorkeling boat trip, then a 4-day remote island stay.  We might be out of internet and phone connection for 10 days (starting next week).  I wonder if we’ll have withdrawal symptoms?  Also with possibly no kids along the way to take out balloons for and no shopping available, we might have other withdrawal symptoms.   I hope coffee won’t be unavailable or Annie might call off this trip?

First day to Snorkel

Thursday, January 6, 2017

Update from yesterday’s memories:

When we arrived at the airport we hired a cab to take us to the hotel…  I thought we’d be squeezing our luggage into a small car… but we were happily surprised to see a van pick us up.  It felt like a pimp-mobile or vegas special:

Our first impression when we arrived at our hotel was disappointment.  We looked at so many pictures of places and thought we got one with cabins on the water.  This place didn’t have that.  The view from our room does include the water… but in the foreground you see electrical wires (typically out of control here), a dumpy pond, a taxi stand, a block of cement … and then you a bit of the water.  Walking outside for about 5 minutes you make it to the beach….  it’s active and pretty with a variety of people selling foods and renting beach umbrellas, mats, and souvenirs.   Okay, this is nice.  After a walk along the beach we met with a travel person to set up a day’s snorkeling trip for Thursday (the focus of why we came here).  The van would pick us up at 8am and get us back by 5pm.  We agreed and signed up.  After we paid we were told to be ready to leave by 7am.   Okay… we can do that.  We checked with the hotel – breakfast begins at 7:30am and there’s no coffee available before that.  We stopped at one of the many 7-11’s and picked up some cans of ice coffee.

The van picked us up by 7:15am and took us to the peer… stopping by several hotels along the way to pick up more people (Chinese, Russian, German, and a couple other nationalities).  We arrived at the peer by about 8:30 and had to wait until about 9:30 before all the other people arrived.  They separated everyone into groups… depending on which islands we were going to.  We had to walk into the water (not quite up to our knees) to get onto the speed boats.  20 of us crowded into ours.  I don’t think I’ve ever been on a speed boat.  Bouncing up and down for about 40 minutes as we raced to our island…  the front of the boat continually raising out of the water and smashing down.. water spraying us.  It was like a carnival ride.

The sand at the beach was perfect.  The water temperature was warm and inviting.  After about an hour of enjoying the beach we set out a few minutes to snorkeling.  Schools of small yellow striped fish kept just out of hands reach.  It was peaceful.

 

 

 

After about 45 minutes we returned to shore for a tasty buffet lunch and were told they’d be back to collect us in 3 hrs.  That 45-minutes was the entire snorkeling experience for the day…  I wondered if this was a scam or just a misunderstanding?   Live & learn.

After eating we saw a big lizard drawing along the sand.  We pointed it to some others around us and we all took out of cameras… then someone pointed out a couple larger lizards…  maybe 4-5 foot long (Komodo dragons).

On the drive back to our hotel we passed many resorts – they looked expensive and filled with luxury our hotel doesn’t have, but we’re a 5-minute walk to the beach and they’re either in busy, loud areas or much further from the water.  Our place is looking better to us.

Returning to the hotel I got on line and began reviewing my research and looked up the best places to snorkel in Thailand.  One of the top ones is Ko Surin.  Reading that the other day led me to book this hotel on Surin Beach.  Checking this more closely now I then realized Ko Surin is an Island…  Surin Beach is a little beach cove in Phuket (an expensive and popular tourist destination Annie and I had decided we didn’t want to go to).

Back to the drawing board!

Priority:  we want to be snorkeling…  not spending a day to do a 45-minute snorkel!   So on line I found a 5-day snorkel trip, living on a small boat (maybe 15-20 people) in one of the 5-best snorkeling areas in Thailand.  The daily price is more than we wanted to spend during this 2-month adventure, but since it includes the room, the food, and the snorkeling…  it’s not too bad.  I think I’ll just book it and hope for the best.  The worst that happens is we get more “negative” stuff we can post on the blog.  “Out of the comfort zone” – maybe that should be the next blog heading?

Annie’s almost done with her morning yoga now so we should be heading for breakfast soon.

My first Thai massage in Thailand

Bangkok Tuesday  Jan 4 2017

Thai massage:

We spent hours at Starbucks trying to book a flight to Phuket for the next day.  So I watched my yoga time disappear as I drank my coffee, did a drawing and tried to stretch across the chairs. I was going shortly to my appointment for a Thai massage and I didn’t want to go there feeling stiff as a board. I was thinking about when you hire a cleaning person but you tidy up first.

We arrived at the prettiest massage place that first caught my attention. I checked the price- $14 for an hour and I knew that some places give you 2 hours for that price but one hour seemed like I wouldn’t be taking up the whole day.  I was ushered into the inner sanctum after I replaced my shoes with slippers, downed my tea and cleaned my hands with the wet towel. The floor was shiny white marble and very slippery. And then up the dark wood stairs, I was doing my best not to fall over!  My massage lady ushered me to an open curtain and I saw my lovely compartment with a white cushioned mat surrounded by elegant drapery and a tiny wooden table holding a dimly lit lamp. On the wall at the back was a locker door with a key 🔑 where I stowed my fanny pack. 

There was a pair of Thai pajamas for me to put on but I came wearing my own leotard and tights- I wasn’t sure what I should wear but I felt very comfortable in my outfit. First things first I asked where the tinkle room was and made my way there, again trying not to fall down another set of slippery wooden stairs! Finally the Thai massage began. The woman wore a face mask and those Thai pajamas in a green color. I wondered if she had a cold or was she afraid that I had cooties?

It is all about stretching and the massage begins with the legs and feet then moves up to the inner thigh and hips. My hips are not my strong point – they are tight and what she was doing was painful and awkward feeling. Even tho I do yoga daily I still have a lot of tightness and I wondered for 2 seconds if this Thai massage might help?

A big part of this trip is my intent to get a lot of Thai massage, thinking it might be the answer to loosen up my hips. Also I have some arthritis in one hip and I’m hoping for a magic cure for the inflammation. I catch a few glimpses as the lady works on me. I studied Thai massage 10 years ago as part of my massage certification and the cool thing is that the therapist uses her whole body in the process, sort of crawling over my body and using her body as a lever.  The whole thing is a push me-pull you kind of thing.  Our plan is to go to Chaing Mai in 2 weeks to study Thai massage.  Now I’m thinking this may not be realistic.  Hummm,  maybe it is a young persons occupation?  Hummm …

The hour comes to an end and the lady brings more tea. I am left by myself to get dressed and find my way out of there.  She appears as my guide, pointing me in the right direction and daylight floods my eyes and I see new clients arriving. It’s like being on a tred mill and I am swept out the door. I am left with no particular feeling after the massage, except “Where’s lunch?”  The one time I hired someone years ago to come to my home for a Thai massage, which cost $100, I felt incredible afterwards, kind of like a Happy drug high!!!  Maybe I need the two hour massage to get that feeling.

Wed. Jan 4, 2017

I booked a flight for us to go to an island … thinking an 11am flight would be civilized.  Last night one of the guys at the youth hostel suggested we leave at 6am… otherwise we’d get hit with rush hour traffic.  So we left at 6am.  We took his suggestion and just hailed a cab outside rather than reserve one.  We made sure his meter was running before we took off (yesterday we let about half a dozen cabs pass us by before we found one with a working meter – it’s a regular scam here).  We made it in about 30 minutes.  By the time we took care of our tickets and baggage claim checks we still had about 4 hrs until boarding.

There’s an amazing food court here…. busy with people.  I calculated that if we’d get coffee (if?) and a little something to eat we’d be spending about $10.  There’s a lounge for business people to hang out.  I checked it out… a wonderful buffet of food, free wifi, coffee, lots of desks and comfortable chairs, quiet, and plenty of room for Annie’s meditation and yoga.  For a total $14 we can enjoy it for 2 hours.  Add another $2 for a specially made coffee for Annie and we’re living “civilized”… rather than “budget”.   We can even grab a couple tuna sandwiches for the plane flight…. included in the price).

Here’s Annie meditating (we’re the only ones here besides the workers)

I’m not good with the photos… I just shoot videos – and since I’m not taking the time to edit them… I’m not posting.  Another side-note, my camera is dying, the automatic lens cover is staying open.

Here are some shots of the massage memories from yesterday:

This is one of the many shops with multiple people getting foot massages at the same time.

This is a shot of some women sitting outside the massage place Annie went to.  It was so hot they set their dog up with a block of ice to lick

Here’s Annie standing outside the place she got her Thai massage. Outside the street was busy and noisy.  Inside it was quiet, serene, clean, and filled with peaceful music and incense.

Here’s the sign for the place next door.  It caught me eye, especially because it was right next door – something for everyone. I guess.

We can stay in this airport lounge for another hour before we have to pay more… we’ll see.  We don’t board the plane until just under 2 hrs from now.   Annie’s enjoying her yoga… still, we’re the only guests here.

Starbucks in Bangkok

Tues, Jan 3, 2017

There are at least 3 Starbucks within a 5 minute walk of our youth hostel.  Annie orders at the counter as she always does… and the girl at the counter hands her the menu so Annie can point at what she wants…  no English spoken here.  For those interested the price of her grande coffee was 115 Baht.. or $3.00- $3.50.  It’s paying premium especially for Thailand, but it’s comfort food for Annie.

One note, the girl at the counter recognized us from yesterday  (maybe our tye-died shirts?) and gave us a plate of pastry samples.  I gave her a balloon and tip.

As in America, there’s free WIFI here…  but you need to sign in and the screen’s in Thai.  I had to get help from the girl at the front…  It was good that I carry my passport with me, I needed it to sign in.  This Starbucks gives you 24 hrs to use the user ID and password.

Here’s my  final screen before getting in:

เรียน ผู้ใช้บริการ Free StarBucks Free Wi-Fi

ชื่อผู้ใช้: stbgqzkn
รหัสผ่าน: 2518

คุณสามารถใช้งาน StarBucks Free Wi-Fi บนเครือข่าย STARBUCKS_AIS ด้วยชื่อและรหัสผ่านนี้ถึง 24:00 น. วันที่ 2017-01-03

กรุณาเก็บ E-mail นี้ไว้เพื่อช่วยจดจำ Starbucks Free Wi-Fi Account ของคุณ

ขอบคุณที่ใช้บริการ Starbucks Free Wi-Fi จาก AIS

Dear Starbucks Free Wi-Fi’s user,

Username: stbgqzkn
Password: 2518

You can use Starbucks Free Wi-Fi on STARBUCKS_AIS with thiss Username and Password until 24.00 hrs of 2017-01-03 .

Please keep this Starbucks Free Wi-Fi Account email for your use.

Thank you for using Starbucks Free Wi-Fi powered by AIS SUPER WiFi.

Monday, Jan 2, 2017

After yesterday’s journey here to Bangkok (about 27-1/2 hrs door to door) and a 12-hr time change, sleep was an experience.  We did our best and stayed up until about 6pm before falling asleep.  I woke up at 10:30pm… then 4am…  and finally at 7:30am.   We went downstairs for the Youth Hostel’s breakfast, then went to the gym (at the hotel next door) – it was about $5 total for the two of us.  Annie did her meditation and  yoga workout while I worked out in the gym… mostly on the treadmill.  After about 45 minutes in the warm, humid gym (I was the only person there), I was drenched.  I didn’t need the sauna…  I felt like I worked out in one.

We never use ATM machines in the States…  and it’s been 2 years since we used one last in India.  I planned to bring US cash with us and exchange it whenever we needed it.  However we ran out of cash last night and found out today’s a national holiday for the banks and money changers….  After an easy search, we found an ATM machine and realized we didn’t remember how to use itwe couldn’t even remember our password.  After a few tries and getting ready to skip eating today…  we found a machine that was working and even accepted the password and card.  What a nice moment!

We had a light lunch and took a boat tour to see Bangkok.  That was relaxing.

Returning to the Hostel, we looked for one of the famous Thai foot massages.  The place Annie decided on was booked, so we kept walking down the alley way.  The next place was booked… and the next… finally we found a little place that had a group of young guys sitting in front… all wearing black leather jackets like they were a motorcycle gang from the 1950’s.  We walked in, wondering what we were getting into?  Two of the guys walked over and set us up.  An hour later (and about $12-15) we walked out relaxed.  We strolled down a block we hadn’t looked at before and saw one for massage place after another.  Some of them had as many as maybe 30-50 chairs set up with people all getting massages at the same time with less than a foot apart (no pun intended?)

We bought some mango from a street vender and ate it as we walked back to the youth hostel.

The next objective: figure out our next destination.

The priority:   snorkeling

We spent the next couple hours looking through “the Lonely Planet” (a guide book) and looking at recommendations and videos on the internet.   For $1000-2000/night a few of the places looked nice enough….  but for that price IT WASN’T GOING TO HAPPEN!  For $10-15/night most places looked wrong for us or nice enough but too far from the water.  There are so many Islands to choose from here.  To make our decision we kept focusing on the best snorkeling to isolate which island, and then for the hotel -the proximity to the water, the aesthetics of the property, and the price.  We found a place and tried booking only to find they won’t have rooms available for the next few months.  Back to the drawing board.  A few tries later, we booked a place for 5 nights.  If we like it, we’ll stay longer… otherwise we’ll stay in another place on that island… or change islands?

Tomorrow’s main objective will be finding out how to get there – cabs/boats/flights… what combination.  We’ve looked at so many places I can’t remember if this was the one that said we must be prepared to walk in the ocean carrying our luggage for a bit to get on and off the boat.  Annie’s main bag is 40 pounds…  mine is a bit over 50 (including 20 pounds of balloons).  We also have our backpacks with daily supplies.  This might make a good blog entry… especially if we get a good photo which I know I won’t be thinking about taking while playing the part of a mule – I’m now more thankful for the kettle bell classes we’ve been taking for years at the gym.

It’s after 11pm for me now.  Annie’s busy sleeping and I’m “on my way”.

Good night.

Allynn

Travel Day

1/1/17

We left NY Saturday just after 1am…. 16 hrs later we got off the plane in Hong Kong at about 6:00am on Sunday, January 1, 2017. We’re not sure where we were at the stroke of midnight.
Now we’re relaxing at the airport for 3 hrs before the next 3-hr flight to Bangkok.

The food court includes a McDonald’s and Popeyes (we didn’t visit either). Cathay Pacific is a nice airlines to fly… but my seat didn’t recline and the person in front of me reclined as far as she could, leaving me very little leg room. This is the first time Annie was able to sleep on the plane better than me. Maybe we’ll see how many frequent flyer miles we have left and splurge to upgrade on the way home at the end of February?

Happy New Year!

Getting ready again

Annie and I are getting ready for another adventure… this time to Thailand for 2 months.  We take off first thing on Saturday morning, Dec 31 (about 1:00am) and arrive in Bangkok on January 1st in the morning… it will still be 2016 in New York. With the time changes and loss of a day, we’ll miss the stroke of Midnight into 2017.

We have our bags packed.  Annie’s is 40 pounds and mine is 45… but 20 of my pounds are balloons (it’s only 2 months).

All we have planned so far is a two-day stay in Bangkok when we arrive… then we’ll figure out where to go in southern Thailand to go snorkeling for a few weeks… and then up north to Chiang Mai to study Thai Massage. Yoga will probably be everywhere we go and I’ll be playing with the local unexpecting kids with my balloons. At any point the weather or suggestions from other travelers might change our plans.   Whereever we end up we’ll do our best to share the colors and adventures we experience in this blog.

Happy New Year!

home again

The flights home were easy enough.  Getting to the airport in Delhi 4 hrs early (they recommend 3 hrs) even with traffic worked out.   No problems with the airport lines, luggage (4 bags which I made sure were just under the 23kg limit each…  the scale in the house showed 22.3-8 Kg each… the scale in the airport showed about 20kg’s each… when we got home, the home scale also said they were all just under 23).  We arrived a bit early in Paris so had a 3-hr lay0over…  plenty of time for a good coffee and pastry.

The flight back to NY  got us in about 30-minutes early, so by the time we got thru immigration, got our luggage, and were met by a car service (it just fit the 4 big bags and us) and made it home it was about 2pm (I had predicted between 2-7pm, depending on delays).

We were happy to see some packages we had sent home (to my brother who had delivered them here). We were also surprised to see our friend Lynn had prep’ed the house a bit for our return and when we arrived, our friend Liisa was busy prep’ing more.

We unloaded Annie’s collections (we might open a store?) while I began the laundry…  re-establishing the phone lines, cable, internet, and getting ready to start a number of priorities I need to get to (like taxes, insurance forms, and other paperwork that all seems to be due this week or soon….  one important form needs to be faxed today)… ordering balloons… ordering a new ocarina (the one I’ve used for the past years broke in Mysore)…  I’m actually excited to get back to the mundane realities of life.

Then, when I turned on the water and tested all the faucets and toilets we noticed water coming through the ceiling in the downstairs (“inspired” by the upstairs bathroom – a seal must have rusted and dried up) and water began leaking from a second toilet as well – a washer must have dried up).  So I turned off those water locations (of course when you turn those valves you need to be prepared that they might break … resulting in turning off all the water to the house – that luckily didn’t happen) and added to the priorities of today.

All and all, it’s been a wonderful 5-month adventure.. we missed a cold and snowy winter here… and I’m excited to get back to the shows (I just had a call for a show for next week) and see if I look at life differently now?

Thanks for joining us these past months.  We’re not kissing the ground.  We’re starting to think of our next adventure…  Thailand, Burma, Greece, Spain, Turkey?     We’ll let you know.

 

Allynn

 

 

Relaxing in Delhi

We’re relaxing in Delhi today. Sharon, a Detroit dancer who made her life here starting back in the early 1970’s, has been such a wonderful host for us during this adventure. For our final few days here she set us up to stay in the apartment of one of her friends – a wonderful artist who runs the cultural activities and exhibitions at one of the biggest hotels here. He also engaged us to perform a show at his hotel tomorrow evening (our last evening here in India.

I just looked at the balloons I have left – I was smart to leave a bundle here in Delhi when we took off for Rajasthan and then for Rishekesh or I might have gone through all the 50 pounds I brought along with us 5 months ago and had nothing left for the show. I have about 3000 left over… about 6 pounds. I doubt that I use 1000 in tomorrow night’s show, so I’ll have plenty for the flight home – you never know when a plane will be delayed and a captive audience is waiting for you.

There’s a lot for us to process and reflect upon during the next weeks…. Lots of photos to sift thru… lots of videos to edit (I’m sure that will be put on the bottom of my priorities once we get home)…. We plan on decompressing for a bit before jumping back into the swing of “regular” life again.

As everything is coming to a closing here I think of a number of fairy tales and stories…

From the Hobbit – “The road goes ever on and on….”

From Le Petit Prince – the fox how the prince can tame and become friends with the fox… however eventually the fox will leave and go back to the wild… but they will always stay in each other’s hearts

From The Wizard of Oz – Dorothy saying goodbye to the Lion, Scarecrow, and Tin Woodsman

 

I really hope in the future we run into some of these new friends we’ve met from around the world again…. But even if we don’t, it’s been so magical sharing these special times with all of them.

We’ll be returning home happy travelers… happy with our memories, happy with our new friends, happy with our old friends, happy to be home, and happy thinking about our next adventures.

driving back to Delhi

We left the Ashram in the Himalaya mountains at 6:30am, after saying goodbye to most of the 18 yogi’s who were taking the final class in Kriya Yoga (which also began at 6:30am).  The Kriya yoga course schedule  for the past 10 days has been pretty constant… not leaving Annie much time for her shopping chakra  but leaving me time to deal with the WIFI needs:

5-5:30   – optional prayers

6:30-8:00 –  prayers, breathing, yoga

8:30-9:00 – breakfast (in silence)

10-12:30 – Kriya Yoga

1-2 – lunch (in silence)

3:30-4 –  Vedic Chanting (I never had the nerve to ask for a definition of “Vedic” – just go with the flow)

4-5 – Kriya Yoga review

5-5:30  clean up  (good for Karma)

6-7:30 – Prayers (chanting and lights) on the Ganges River  (required attendance….although we don’t do “required” well)

7:30-8 supper (in silence)   …. although they invited us to a question/answer session with the head swami which meant supper would be at 8 or 8:15….  we appreciated the “invitation” but only “accepted” it once.

 

I guess since we missed the final class we won’t be finding our blissful enlightenment during this life time?   That’s okay….  “blissful enlightenment sounds pretty boring to me… there’s no place to go from there.  There’s one thing I heard the head swami here say that I really enjoyed – “I hope I go to Hell rather than to Heaven….  there’s more people who need me there!”

On the drive (about 7hrs) we “enjoyed” the three lanes of traffic on roads that were wide enough for maybe 1-1/2 vehicles…  sharing the roads with the cows, the sharp zig-zag turns on the mountain cliffs, a number of ox (or whatever they were) pulling vehicles, carts with a load of people hanging off the backs and sitting on the roofs, even a camel pulling something….  it’s all become “everyday” stuff here over the past months.   For most of the drive we listened to an audio book by Yogananda – “The Autobiography of a Yogi”….  about the life and experiences of an enlightened Yogi back in the first half of the 1900’s…  as he evolved and traveled around India, America, and other places.   Listening to his adventures in India while we’re here has been magical.

One of the most magical parts of these months has been becoming fast friends with wonderful people from all around the world.   India, Nepal, Greece, Peru, Canada, China, Japan, France, London (the only city beside New York it seems that when you ask a person where they’re from, they’ll answer the city rather than the country), Brazil, Russia, Iran, and quite a few other countries… some of which I’d be afraid to try spelling.  It’s going to take some time to process everything we’ve been thru and experienced…. so if we don’t write of call during the next week or two, we’re decompressing.

One thing for sure…. At the beginning of this adventure I said we’d be doing things that would be out of our comfort zones and we’d either return home kissing the ground or looking forward for our next adventure ….  at this point it looks like we’ll be researching our next adventure.

Wrapping up India (from Annie)

Rikisesh is a marvelous wonderland to get lost in. Allynn and I are enjoying ashram life here and I could imagine staying here for a long time. Tho soon the summer will bring very hot weather. We are leaving this amazing country a week from today. Last week we absolutely adored taking all the wonderful yoga classes at the Yoga Festival here. We were both captivated by the Reiki classes. So now we know a bit about hands on healing. I adore Gurmuchk’s Kundalini classes, Jivamukti’s, and the basic Hatha yoga classes. This week we are delving into the intense and secret world of Kriya yoga- which is not written down in a book – only transmitted by teacher to student. I am most amazed that Allynn is taking this 12 day course with me! I found a tough Ashtanga class, taught by a young Ashtanga master on steroids. Lots of fun- reviewing my Mysore experience. I am so grateful neither one of has been really sick here and all in all it has been a trip of a life time. I am only sorry I didn’t come to this world sooner. We are returning to Delhi for a few days- Allynn has a show there and home next Tuesday! Love to You All!

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The return of the shoes

I tried replacing my size 13 shoes after they went missing when we left a restaurant a few days ago….  but they don’t carry that size here.  “How about a size 10?  that’s pretty big!” the shoe salesman told me.  Had I wanted to cut off the toes, maybe.

Two days later the restaurant worker stopped one of our group (someone who was with us when my shoes were found missing) as she passed and said someone had taken the shoes by mistake.. and returned them.

It feels good to be wearing my shoes again instead of water slippers.

A breath I enjoyed today in Kriya Yoga Class

In today’s breaths (breaths # 11 and 12 in a series of 20 breaths)…  the instructions were for visualization rather than technical assignments to chackra’s and bonda’s.  Picturing a lime green snake with his tail in his mouth crawling circles around inside the chackra’s while breathing and holding the breath…. then the next series – picturing a lotus flower growing it’s roots from the ground, the vines up the spine, and flowering out of the head while breathing.   It’s a bit like out of Science Fiction movie… like “Alien”.   Suddenly there’s fun in the class.   I’m hoping the final 8 breaths use images like this one.

I didn’t die today…

I just was asked to visit the ashram of one of the workers here (the WIFI guy).  He drove me in his little car up the mountain and introduced me to the “elderly” head guru (who’s maybe 10 years older than me).  I did balloons for this serious looking guy… and got him to smile (success in my books)… then I got a wonderful view of the Ganges River.  He brought me back to the guru again… I didn’t know what to do?  More balloons?  say “Namaste?”…  bow…  touch his feet (a sign of a blessing or respect)… so I touched his feet, tipped my hat, and said “Namaste” (covering all the bases).   My nee  “friend” said we’d ride back on his bike – In the dark, along narrow curvy lanes with plenty of bumps and cows.  We rode for about 15 minutes.  I kept thinking if we crash and I get hurt, Annie’s going to kill me.  We arrived fine.