The road to Santiago. PostDated Sept 2015

A postdated blog that I forgot about when my iphone died 1/3 way through my trip. Thank Buddha for saved draft.

Sept 2015.
Currently 1/3 through the 900 km+ Camino to Santiago and beyond. Walking solo on the way but meeting beautiful souls from around the world for conversations, tapas and wine.

Offline while walking and should be back online in mid October.

Pics describe this trip best.

I am walking the Camino alone. Without a guidebooks/maps or phone and without any clear schedule. Some days I walk 6km others 30km+ . I stop when I feel tired and try to find a place to rest – sometimes it means I walk longer most of the time I find a place to sleep.  Just reading the’signs’ alone the way, stopping in cathedrals, conversing with pilgrims, refilling my soul with good books and music.  Enjoying the journey and embracing the struggles more than the daily destination.


My new bf ‘Cookie Monster’ – cookie holds all my possessions on the Camino including wine and of course cookies!


The cathedral in Burgos. One of the best cathedrals I have ever seen.


I love stopping in random towns along the way for snacks. This was just one of the many scenic towns along the way.


In Ages I found a fantastic wine for 4Euro. Shared it with a passerby who declared it was the best they had on the Camino. Bold statement. Cookie monster was pleased.

I am in awe of the way that the Camino brings people together. While sharing wine with my new friend he suggested that I stop in the next town – the oldest human remains in Europe were found there. I randomly found myself on a tour bus with other pilgrims and we were on taken to a dig site by an archaeologist. Those skulls were damn cool. Being on/in a bus for just 20 mins was so weird.


One of the best things about waking the Camino is visiting the old cathedrals (when they are open). I am not catholic but mass is becoming one of my fave ways to reflect on the journey at the end of the day.

A long 33+ km day ended with a nice river.

Pilgrim graffiti!


There are loads of markers leading ‘the way.’

Ancient battle between two outdated tribes was fought here. I wonder who one?

I love the rock art we make along the way.

575 km left to Santiago. Another 100km to the coast!


Mountains, Vineyards and not a person in sight. Its such a perfect day.

The flight back and layovers| Siem Reap – Bangkok – Air India! – Kabul

I just didn’t want to leave Cambodia. Everything was starting to feel familiar again – my friends, family and my especially friendly Cambodia. I also really miss the simple pleasures of life like walking, biking, reading a paper and good coffee. But alas work called and I was starting to get myself excited again for the day to day challenges that I love about my job.

SIEM REAP.
I woke up super early and grabbed Steve’s bike for an early morning ride around the Reap. Stopping in Wat Damnak, Raffles Park and eventually Sister Srey for a morning coffee.

IMG_3249

The old Trek @ Wat Damnak

IMG_3253

My old parking spot is replaced with kick ass graffiti. Go Sister Srey Girls!

THAILAND.
And in less than 3hrs I was in Bangkok having lunch by the lake with Kelsey and listening to the cutest kids converse in multiple languages. It was glorious and I wish that I had more time to spend with these amazing gracious people.

IMG_3261

Lunch with Kelsey!

IMG_3262

I didn’t.

IMG_3263

What an amazing family!

3 hrs later I hit the plane and feel straight asleep and missed a meal. Didnt think anything of it because my layover in Delhi is full of wonderful restaurants, Starbucks coffee and glorious book shops. When you travel this much you plan your layovers well. I was excited.

DELHI: Unfortunately when I arrived in Delhi at the International Transfer Section, I was told that I would have to wait 10 mins for my boarding pass – no worries. 12 Days prior I had to wait 30 mins and was whisked through with Thai Airways to Bangkok. This time I wasn’t so lucky. 10 mins India time grew to 30 mins and then another and then 2 hrs. Meanwhile there was no water fountains, only a snack machine that took India rupees. You cant take your luggage to the bathroom (its a quick trip or they come to find you) no wifi, no food and just empty seats with over a dozen staff rushing (India style) people to flights.

At the end of the 2hrs the staff changed and I was told that my flight was actually cancelled there were no flights running the next day, there was nothing Air India could do to help move me on another flight and I wasn’t allowed access to International Lounge. Everything seem really confusing and the Air India Manager blamed the cancelled flight on Afghan security and the fact that Thai Airways was suppose to provide support during this time until the Air India flight. I could literally see the shit flying from his mouth when he said this. Everything was getting India complicated and for no reason.

 

IMG_3266

Oh Air India staff.

By this time there was another Afghan who was also in the same predicament. We both took turns talking to everyone with really no help. After 12 hrs with virtually no assistance and bad sleep on those crazy benches we were saved when a newly arrived young couple heading to Kabul had the same problem with Air India. One of the guys had an Indian Sim and spotted me a wifi connection. In less than 10 mins I booked the only out two remaining tickets out of Kabul that day (and apparently for the next several days) It was a first class ticket on Safi Airways. We went up to the desk and got our boarding passes – the Safi staff felt very sad for us and gave us complimentary lounge passes.

Another culture shock moment when I hit the lounge. My first thought – its amazing what you can do with the internet and credit card in less than 10 mins.

 

IMG_3275

First class lounge . First class culture shock. Again.

IMG_3276

6 hrs later my friend and I boarded the plane on our first class seats and just sat there in shock. We both kept taking pics of everything and enjoyed the fact that we were heading home. I was just happy to be heading home.

IMG_3278

36 hrs of travelling and the last two remaining seats to Kabul were first class. Whoa!

IMG_3280

This airplane food and service was awesome.

IMG_3281

We were both super happy to be on a plane and hilariously taking selfies. Our first time in First Class!

IMG_3282

 Sunrise in Herat

HERAT.
The flight was less than 3 hrs and the first stop was Herat. I watched a beautiful sunrise thinking to myself I love travelling. Its all about the journey and how it transform you, much much much more than the destination.

Every morning I find myself a different person | Paulo Coelho

It’s been a rough week. Tougher than I can ever imagine. But this is light compared to what’s in store for the future. Hearing this podcast today reaffirms the path that I choose in my life.

Live each day to fullest. The road less travelled is often filled with hardship. Life itself is a pilgrimage.

This opening quote resonates with my mornings:

Every morning I find myself a different person – I am always a mystery to myself. If I knew in the first hours of the morning what I am going to do, what is going to happen, what attitude or decision should I take – I think my life would be definitely boring. What makes life interesting is the unknown its the risks that we take every single morning of a single day.

Paulo Coelho | OnBeing.

P.S. Part of me wishes that I was on this pilgrimage right now – it was on the list. I need to make this a priority.

Postdate Aug 23rd from the field | Silently watching the last tango in Kabul

This article was posted on my facebook wall close to a month ago. I immediately wrote a response (since I didn’t want people thinking that my life here is all about fun(ds), plus a long overdue update was due but then in all the hubbub of travelling and work I totally forget to post it! My life has changed slightly in the past month – I am currently based in Kabul due to security concerns from the election results, interacting more with people on a day to day basis and I have faster internet!

Everything else is pretty much the same.

Last Tango in Kabul  | Rolling Stone

The Kabubble economy was so hot that kids out of college were making six-figure salaries, and former midlevel paper pushers were clearing a thousand a day as consultants for places like the World Bank. “All of your expenses are paid for, you don’t buy anything, you’re getting this massive salary that you bank,” Peter, the journalist, says. “Do that for a few years and you’ve saved half a million before you’re 30. You could basically class-jump, by going to Kabul.”

Of course, in the rest of the country the war was getting more and more violent, and the dead, mostly Afghans, were piling up. But it was easy to ignore it inside the Kabubble, as we called it.

Organizations were desperate to up their “burn rate” and clear out their budgets before the year’s end so they could ask for more the next year. It was so easy to make money in Kabul that it felt like we were all citizens of some Gulf oil state. If you could string a few coherent sentences together into a grant application, odds were that there was some contracting officer out there who was willing to give you money, no matter how vapid your idea. Want to put on a music festival in Kabul? Here’s a few hundred thousand. Shoot a soap opera about heroic local cops? A million for you. Is your handicraft business empowering Afghan women? Name your bid.

It was the high life. People were flying to Sri Lanka for the weekend, or buying homes in the States. We had it good, even my friends and I, the second, or, to be honest, more like third tier of expats, the junior reporters and freelancers and entry-level NGO types. There weren’t any jobs back home, and here we were, working our dream gigs. Some of us got killed or kidnapped, or lost our minds, but a lot more of us got rich or made our careers.

Then, as abruptly as it came, the party was over.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/last-tango-in-kabul-20140818#ixzz3DCZcfK17

Cost-of-War

Aug 23rd | Kabul

This is a very good article, snippets of inaccuracy, but timely as I just returned from a coffee date from the very famous Serena hotel about 45 mins ago. My 2nd visit to an expat spot in the 2 months since I have been here and the whole experience was a mini culture shock for me.

The Kabubble is over. I came in at the end and my life is nowhere near this exciting. I live far away from Kabul, I usually dress in local clothes – sporting a very big beard. I haven’t had a drop of alcohol since I got here, my salary is on par with the local senior staff that I work with and last week I didnt’ have more than a 30 min conversation in English. My life is completely different than most of the expats that I meet here and I specifically choose this position, location and NGO so that it would be different. I like my day to day and what I would change the most is more interactions with locals and a bit more cafes time would be fun.

Part of what I do is to design schools and manage educational programs for marginalized women in one of the most remote and challenging locations within the country. I am the only foreigner on my program and I don’t take any day of it for granted. I embrace the daily challenges – some of which I never faced before and I never want to face again.

I really enjoy my work because its one of the most demanding and professionally challenging jobs that I have had in years, never bored of it and it feels nice to not be the boss, its a welcomed change. Everyone knows (and I am fully aware) that parts of this job will run better without the foreigner in it and my goal is to run myself out of a job (hopefully soon).

I feel like the untold story is how this is affecting the local Afghan community. I have friends and co-workers here who for the past 10 years have painstakinlgy rebuilt their life here. With this currently instability they are watching it all fall apart.

Minimalist Inspiration this Week.

“If you have a dream begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it”
18th Johann Goethe

 

https://levels.io/


@levelsio plans to create 12 Start Ups in 12 Months while travelling and living like a nomad out of a single backpack.
This is ambitious and bold. What I love the most is that he understands the risks and is clearly not afraid of failing.

startups-inline2-660x440

By doing nothing, you figure out exactly nothing. @levelsio

 

 

 

DIRTY BIRD AD

This made me laugh, simple and definitely bold advertising.

tumblr_n5vb6x5odW1rjzck8o1_500

We were given the name Dirty Bird as the brief, and started working on ideas. We looked at the initials, DB. Then worked with the lowercase ‘db’ linking them to form the shape of a rooster.It’s a graphic representation of a rooster incorporating the initials. It depends on how you look at it,” he said according to the Mirror. “I’m not sure there have been any complaints. A few comments, but it’s in the eye of the beholder, as they say.”  Mark James

 
 
 

YERKA PROJECT

There are currently alot of companies trying to reinvent the bicycle. This company takes it one step further and creates a bicycle where the lock is built into the frame and made the concept look cool on a fixie. I still think the bike can get a stolen, but I love that they incorporate and found the solution within the product itself.

proyecto2

Every lock can be broken leaving the bike intact.
That’s why we decided to make a lock out of the frame.
The only way to steal it is to break the lock, which implies breaking the bike.

http://www.nadiemelaroba.cl/

Link

The Blue Mosque – NatGeo Style.

I visited this mosque twice and posted some pics but Steve McCurry and NatGeo recently posted this stunning pic – need I say more?

Blue Mosque

Well I am going to try : >
This mosque is in the centre of town and I see snippets of a tower here and there whenever I leave the house. Its tranquil and one of the few places in Mazar where I see families resting, playing and praying. Since I’m not muslim I am not allowed to go inside the mosque but the few stories I hear from visitors I would highly recommend it. The museum is home to artificats that are over 500 years old and scattererd throughout a small room, some are behind glass cabinets, others are out in the open – I love this style as you feel like you are walking into someone’s home and or vintage shop. It was really cool to see fathers explaining to their kids what these relics mean.

I highly recommend a visit on Friday, and stop at a the fruit stall on the way in and pick up an ice cherry smoothie. Its refreshing!