Every day I went to classes and talked to friends and teachers and friends who were my teachers (and teachers who were my friends) and got filled up to the brim with wisdom and information, almost like taking a jug to a tap of cold water and letting it fill to overflowing. Every night, or every night that I wasn't too exhausted, I sat on my bed with my coloured pens and tried to write it all down so that it wouldn't slip away.
Now six weeks later I have a little book full of quotes and lessons and messages from the universe. I have stronger and more flexible muscles. I have a stronger and more flexible mind. I feel quieter. A friend in the course told me on our last day that she'd seen a subtle shift in me over the weeks, that I seemed to have softened – I feel that too, slightly. Most of all though, I feel humbled. I am sure that I know so much less than I thought and much less than I want to know. I am also sure I have much more work to do than I thought on myself and my behaviours with others. I am ready to keep trying my best, forever and ever.
So I'm officially a yoga teacher now, but I feel more like a yoga student than I did when I arrived. I don't feel ready to teach classes, but I simultaneously feel excited to share what I've learned. More than anything, I feel ready for the next stage in this great safe beautiful adventure that is my life.
The picture at the top is one of those pages on which I tried to carefully record all the wisdom from my day. I chose to share it because it seems to contain some of the biggest lessons that kept coming up for me throughout the course.
And thanks as always for your love and patience while I took a little long sabbatical from the blog. It always seems to call me back at exactly the right time for me. Thanks for reading!
I spent about 11 days in Laos and really only skimmed the surface of this beautiful country. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make it there on this trip but I was getting signs from all over – high praise brought up randomly by acquaintances, a feature in a textbook I was teaching my kids – so I braced myself for the high flight costs and went there anyway. There are cheaper options than flying, but I was a touch short on time because I was meeting my sister and my friends in Chiang Mai (and I’ll be honest, I was a little unsure about the slow boat). I ended up doing a land border crossing by flying from Bangkok to Udon Thani, a Thai town that is quite close to Vientiane because the internal flight in Thailand is much cheaper than flying to Vientiane itself. This post is helpful if you’re doing the same.
I only spent 2 days in the capital, Vientiane. It was a nice city but I had a hard time adjusting to the heat (especially after an all-nighter in Bangkok airport) so I didn’t actually do much and in terms of tourist attractions there isn’t all that much to do. I enjoyed myself a lot though, just walking around, having some lovely meals, taking in the streets and a few temples, getting lost in markets.
…But then I went to Luang Prabang and fell in love. Walking around, everywhere you look is like a postcard! It’s such a quiet town and feels incredibly peaceful. There are a huge number of temples so seeing monks in beautiful orange robes is a special but daily occurrence. There are flowers everywhere, and leafy trees, and lovely little alleys. The town is on a peninsula so you can walk or ride a bike all along the riverside – the views are stunning. There’s an eleven-thirty curfew so it weeds out some of the more rambunctious travellers, making it the absolute perfect first stop for me after my whirlwind final weeks in Korea. I spent my days walking around, sitting in cafés, reading, admiring the views, getting a massage or two, exploring nearby waterfalls and Buddha-filled caves and lounging about at bars with river views. It was such a wonderful time.
Utopia: There’s no chance you’d miss this bar with the aformentioned riverside views if you go to Luang Prabang. It’s very popular but still manages to be so laid-back and fun. My favourite was to go at happy hour when it was even quieter, lie on the loungers and chat with new friends.
Coconut Garden: Delicious food, really good service, and a beautiful outdoor courtyard at the back with pretty lanterns.
Big Brother Mouse: Every day at 9 and 5 they host drop-in volunteering for tourists to come and talk with local students so they can practice their English. I went a couple of afternoons and found it such a humbling and fascinating experience.
Kuang Si waterfall: The most beautiful waterfalls I’ve ever seen. Make sure you climb up to the top of the falls – the path on the left hand side is much less treacherous! It’s sweaty and slippy at parts but 100% worth it to wade out to the edge (surprisingly calm at the top) and peer over the bamboo railing to see all the pools cascading down. The water here is milky turquoise and you can swim at a few different spots on your walk up. I spent my 24th birthday here and I’ll never forget it.
Night market: Another thing that you really couldn’t miss but worth mentioning anyways. It’s so quiet in the market, full of beautiful art and jewelry and clothes, and nobody hassles you beyond saying “sabaidee” (hello). It’s lovely.
I stayed at Matata Guesthouse, in the dorms and liked it a lot. It’s a bit more expensive than a regular backpacker’s hostel, but I met some lovely people there, it was in a great location, and the place was really nice.
Right now I’m sitting in a bunk bed in Chiang Mai after a big day of CRAZY water fighting and an hour-long massage and my sister is napping in the bunk under me! It’s funny how quickly things can seem totally normal but I want to keep appreciating how incredible it is that the timing worked out and the planning lined up and now I have her here with me along with two great friends. Life is wonderful. We are going to be in Chiang Mai for another few days before going up to Pai, then will make our way back down to Bangkok and eventually to one of the islands! Stay tuned for more photos and posts here on the blog once I have a spare minute to sit down and write. In the meantime, I’m doing okay at posting photos to my Instagram feed so feel free to follow me there @lifeinlimboblog. I hope you’re having a wonderful week!! xo
It’s my 24th birthday today, and I wanted to keep up my tradition of looking back over the past year and taking stock of some of the lovely experiences I was lucky enough to have. I’ve done this when I turned twenty-two and twenty-three as well, and it’s always such a wonderful reminder of what’s important to me. Here are my 23 favourite moments from this past year of being 23, in no particular order.
Seeing my mom at the tiny, deserted arrivals area of the Busan airport.
The first time we saw White Beach, bright and early our first morning before many of the tourists were out, and just laughed our way hysterically into the water.
That magical afternoon Dylan and I trekked out to the magical fountain of dreams even though we were so tired and it was so far away. We jumped on an old trampoline at this tiny dilapidated arcade until we couldn’t breathe from laughing and our sides were killing us, then watched the sunset sitting on some rocks and talked, did handstands on the beach and saw the hilarious water and lights show set to classical music.
The Sunday afternoon after my eye surgery, realizing that I could see all the way to the beautiful bridge and all the detail of the gorgeous glittery water without wearing glasses or contacts.
Walking through the old wood forest in Japan, all alone, just before sunset during magic hour, just thinking “thank you thank you thank you thank you”.
That late summer picnic at Igidae when we rushed out after work and caught the train, brought our own beer and chips and kimbap and chocolate bars and ate on the rocks with the most perfect view of the city in front of us as the sun went down.
The happy hour we spent at Spider House bar on Boracay. Everything was perfect: the drinks, the sunset, the company, the food, the bamboo ladder that led straight from the restaurant into the water, the two swims we had, the vibe.
Running my first 10K race across the Gwangan bridge in Busan. The views were incredible: on one side you could see the beach and the mountains, and on the other side just sparkling ocean.
Dancing onstage at the M.I.A. show at Ultra Seoul.
That whole day we went surfing. Perfect weather, belly laughs, wet tangly hair, playing jenga in the streets, watching a drum parade, and dancing with ajummas outside of Thursday Party.
Each night at dusk in Kyoto by the river, sitting by the bridge with new friends, running up to the Lawson corner store for more cheap Japanese beer, listening to nearby acoustic guitar and ten different languages, watching the water and looking at the lights.
The baseball games on weekend afternoons where we bought cheap beers and laughed at all the chants and tied orange plastic bags to our heads in bows and balls.
Watching the sun set over Haeundae beach from Vesta spa during lunar new year weekend with two great friends, feeling totally blissed out.
Walking the beach during magic hour and then going on the Viking ride at the tiny carnival with my mom. She thought I was crazy for making her go on it but the views from up there were amazing and it just felt like pure joy. That whole day did, really. The whole week did.
Sitting on the rocks on the far side of the beach at dusk, reading a book I was sent in the mail by someone I care about.
Being driven around on the back of the mini truck inside the Tsujiki fish market in Tokyo by a kind man with lots of character, who dropped us off at his favourite sushi restaurant for lunch.
Hiking along the coast to Oryukdo just in time to see the sunset.
Anytime the owner of our favourite Mexican restaurant played the violin, but especially the time when my mom was here to experience it
That sneaky shot at Fuzzy Navel.
Watching the sun rise with Dylan in the lifeguard chair on Haeundae beach on his last morning in Busan. We were exhausted and it was hot and we were sweaty, but I was also really and truly grateful.
That day Katie and I spent derping around Gyeongju on bicycles and the night that followed of sitting on the roof at happy hour. I was so close to leaving Busan that I felt nostalgic already.
Finishing up my year in Korea, sending a box home, packing my bag and getting on a plane bound for Bangkok.
All the times I watched the sun set (examples: 1, 2, 3)
Every time I saw the Diamond Bridge and remembered where I was lucky enough to live (examples: 1, 2, 3)
All the times I was on a roof at dusk
I have had an absolutely incredible year of being alive. I feel both proud and totally humbled that I have created such a life for myself, thrilled but also a bit disbelieving. When I was 18, I would have told you I was too anxious to travel or live away from home, but I’m so happy that I’ve started to learn how to do scary things before I’m ready. I also feel deeply grateful for all the amazing people I am lucky enough to know, care about, and be cared for by. If there’s one thing I learned this past year, it’s how valuable my relationships are – how they are the most important thing.
At the risk of getting too sappy (too late), I just feel so lucky and so blessed. Today I spent part of my birthday swimming in the most gorgeous natural pool of the bluest water you’ve ever seen, under a waterfall in the middle of a jungle in Laos. I’m not entirely sure how I got here, but I plan to do as Cheryl Strayed says: “Let whatever mysterious starlight that guided you this far guide you onward into whatever crazy beauty awaits.” If this year is any indication, a lot more crazy beauty awaits. Bring it on, 24.