Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mongolia has stolen my heart...

I mentioned in my last blog that Mongolian people are very attractive...that was after having being here for a short time. Now I KNOW with all my heart that they are exceptionally gorgeous people! Not only are they stunning but there is an inner beauty that shines through with such warmth and generosity. Thomas and I just returned from a journey to the Natural Reserve Park where we stayed in a girt and lived alongside a local family in the village. The journey there was along a beaten dirt road track through forest and alongside pastures of feeding cows, sheep and goats, not forgetting packs of horses. We observed horses cooling themselves down in the river, cows crossing the river and having to walk in till the water reached their heads...there were brave cows and cowardly cows, smart cows and deflated cows, the smart cows chose to walk across at shallower points. The deflated ones didn't dare cross. The cowardly one crossed but it took some time before they entered and the brave well they just went across fearlessly.

We had a really amazing woman as our guide and she shared her knowledge of current Mongolia and historic Mongolia (we were lucky cause her partner is a Mongolian historian so her knowledge was broad). She is a doctor but enjoys working as a guide every so often to practice her languages (she speaks French, Russian, Polish, English, Chinese and Mongolian). I learnt so much from her that my head is soon to explode with new knowledge of a land that I now feel so connected to. The country people are very connected to their animals as the animals provide so much for the everyday survival. I discovered that horses are not only good for riding and pulling things but you can make alcomahol from their milk. So the milk is collected now and by October it will be a delicious alcohol called Irak.

We went on a 3 hour horse trek through the country side and I had a mighty steed(I also had a 10 year old boy leading my mighty steed by foot) It was so nice sitting on the horse and observing the nature from such a perspective. I was even given flowers along the way and got to drink water from the river. Thomas was able to ride his horse without a guide and he was generally successful but criticized for not hitting his horse hard enough when it was time to go.

Mongolian culture holds men in great esteem and the rules of Ladies first do not apply at all, it is always the man who enters or exits a building first. And it is the man that eats food first etc.The reason being that if there is an aggressor with a bow and arrow (or a sniper) aiming at the doorway, the man must boldly and bravely open his chest and accept the arrow(or bullet), and, if perchance the food is off, or has been poisoned, it is the man who must suffer the tormented death or agony of a bad stomach. Thomas has been very brave and accepted his new role accordingly.

We have eaten a lot of MEAT! And my stomach has started playing up. My toilet roll has been in great use in forests, restaurants, behind camels(this I'm making up) so I think once I get to China I will no longer consume meat and resume my former habits of eating seafood, veg and legumes. Perhaps it isn't the meat but it is the easiest food object for me to blame...tonight we're going for Mongolian BBQ so I will have my last indulgence attempt there. Here too Thomas has been a good man, he has generally accepted my left over meat and consumed it alongside his.

And now...I must sign off as I have a long walk back to the guest house.

Mongolia: Men exposing their bellies to allow the cool air to gracefully blow onto the buddha belly and cool it down. Yaks grazing alongside cows, goats grazing alonside sheep. Adorable little humans with cheeky grins! Tall Mongolian men with long hair that look like they've just come out of crouching tiger hidden dragon. Elegant women with broad smiles parading along the street. Girts scattered along the rolling hills and plains, always the entrance facing south.

I will return here one day to work!

I do not know if I am able to blog in China, as I have heard there are very tight restrictions on the Intranet so perhaps I will return to blog once I reach Vietnam...however I hope it will not be so long.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Toilet paper that doesn't absorb is better than no toilet paper at all!

Thomas and I have a arrived in Magnificent MongoliA!!!!

We left beautiful Baikal on a local bus which was an unanticipated adventure well worth having to experience a side of Russia which was very similar to my beloved Africa. The joy of squashing as many people possible into a bus. There were no animals so in that regard the Siberians failed on the exotic elements of public transport. But on a bus designed for 30 people there were another 20 people squished into the narrow walk way between the seats. There were babushkas, matrushkas, munchkins and bunchkins. The bus driver was a real Russian MAN in my eyes. Tall, broad, blond, rough around the edges and very serious looking. Would have been an ideal character in a Russian Mafia movie...and of course he was as gentle as teddy bear. He had his son on the bus with him who was mini-him and the love and affection he openly displayed to this young fellah was touching! On the 70km drive to Irkutsk we took about 2 hours, struggled up the hills and picked up and dropped off a number of characters large and small. There was a babushka who thought my hair was very interesting and she pointed at it and made comments then pointed again smiled, smirked, spoke more then left the bus. I'm not sure if I made a positive impression or not:)

At the train station we had a 2 hour wait for Train 362(I think) and I spent the first part blown away by the multitude of characters surrounding me. There were so many faces around me, each face telling a different story, each on their own journey. Old faces etched with wrinkles, young faces with curious eyes, men in suits, boys in in uniforms, women in scarves and little girls in pink. There were two snow white dogs pulling at their leashes wanting to break free and play. SO majestic was their fur and generous their gazes. I smiled at those who curiously tried to figure me out and received smiles abundant in return. I accidentally blocked the main entrance and received disapproving looks for my lack of understanding of the train-station traffic. We then found a cafe, indulged in home made cranberry juice and continued our backgammon championship, which I am happy to report I am now dominating by a long shot!!!!

The train ride was 38 hours long and we shared our cabin with a dutch lass and a Russian Senorita! Very nice and friendly people on their journey from Moscow to China too. We had a troupe of Fussy French traveling in our carriage and their passion for order became the inside joke. About half and hour before and after each stop the carriage attendant locks the toilets and this was not popular because there were a few stops and lots of busting elderly french ladies. They were highly optimistic and would return to see if the toilet had been unlocked every 5 minutes then ramble on about how annoying it was that the toilet was locked. This phenomena became more and more common during the journey and we were able to giggle and laugh regularly at their expense. We also had some interesting American Characters next door who were in Russia visiting the Republic of Tuva developing and learning new technics of throat singing. The Tuvaens, I was told by our Russian roomie, are all thugs and alcoholics, And then I was told by the American, that the opinion the Russians hold of the tuvaens is similar to the that, that the average American holds of the Native Americans, The average Ozzie of the Aboriginal people, the average Norwegian of the Sami etc...Interesting that world wide we have such commonalities!

The train journey was super and the second last I will share with Thomas. The one frustration I have had and has become more and more an issue as the trip goes on is that of toilet paper. The toilets have been fine, I have managed to go to the loo once a day since the beginning of the trip and for that I am eternally grateful. Since entering Russia however there has been a decline in the quality of Toilet paper. Now this is not good because for those of you that do not know this, toilet paper is one of my great soft spots! I like to be able to clean my bits with paper that does not resemble in anyway sandpaper...I am of course humble enough to not carry my own soft, thick, bleached white toilet paper where ever i go (which you should know the Queen of England does!!!) No I am generally accepting of toilet paper in places that have it but this is becoming less and less the case here in Mongolia, following from Russia! The toilet paper is just not acceptable! It doesn't absorb the liquid. It doesn't perform its duty, it doesn't function as it should, it doesn't remove liquid from my bits and for this I am falling apart. SOOOOO...from today I on I'm on a hunt for toilet paper that absorbs and i will no longer be humble or modest and will take on an arrogant stance that if non absorbent toilet paper is not available I will carry my own!!! Earlier today on the hunt for a toilet though my theory was disturbed a little because i used the toilet and discovered there wasn't any toilet paper at now have decided that although non-absorbent-toilet paper is not ideal and by no means comfortable and functional, it is better than no toilet paper at all!

Mongolia!!!! Last night at about 10pm we crossed the boarder to Mongolia. The process started around 1pm when we arrived at Naushki. There were 3 hours spent changing the locomotive to Mongolian style. Then 2 hours spent with customs and immigration officials. then we went to the Mongolian side and had an hour or two waiting for customs and immigration officials then a couple of hours wandering the Mongolian train station (where Thomas and I ate Dumplings) And I got a bad deal when changing money...lost 3 euro...which was not too much of a dilemma really.... but the dumplings were great!!!!! We also had our first intro the the beautiful Mongolian people. They are in my opinion very aesthetically beautiful! The journey from the Mongolian train station to Ulaan Baatar was my first introduction to the open plains and rolling hills, herds of horses, and random girts scattered about the place. There was a full moon last night and at about 1am when everyone was a sleep and no one about, not even a mouse. I crept to the back of the carriage (we were at the end) and absorbed the country side by moonlight. There was a blanket of fog on the plains and the colours were magical! I thought of many people back there and sent you all love and good vibrations. I was also tempted to howl at the moon but did not think the carriage attendants would appreciate been woken up by a mad Mohican wearing a blanket at the end of the carriage.

The morning brought us to UB and both of us are a bit buggered today. The heat is present and being good tourists hasn't entered our program yet. Thomas has just headed back to the room to have a siesta and I think I shall join him shortly.

Before that however I must share that I have recently started listening to the Love poems of Rumi and am in love with Rumi. I seem to be falling in love left right and centre on this trip and now Rumi has stolen my heart. I have an album on my ipod which came up on random and it's content are poems read by different celebrities and Deepak Chopra. I spent a couple of hours transcribing some of them yesterday and want to share.

I am and I am not.

I'm drenched in the flood
that is yet to come,
I'm tied up in the prison
that is yet to exist,
Not having played the game of chess,
I'm already the checked mate.
Not having tasted a single cup of your wine,
I'm already drunk.
Not having entered the battlefield,
I'm already wounded and flayed.
I no longer know the difference
between image and reality.
Like the shadow,
I am and I am not.

I have to pee now so cannot share more....there was one line from another poem that was lovely: Close the door on language and open the window of love!

Anyways...until next time! Keep spreading the love!


Saturday, July 24, 2010

The last of Siberia and Russia

Today is the last day we will be here in Russia and I feel a bit sad about that. Siberia has been good to us. Especially the amazing Lake Baikal region. It is just glorious here. Yesterday we started the day at an open air museum where we wondered through old houses, schools, churches, farm yards etc that belonged to the Baikal region back in the day...some of the houses were very old and others had picture of Stalin, old record players and more contemporary icons displayed. It was really lovely for me because I got to spend time in homes built from the Sacred Russian Cedar tree and then I was honoured enough to be able to see many of the Heavenly trees and to top it all I was even able to eat one of the Sacred Siberian Cedar Nut...I think if I have any more Cedar experiences I may explode from the Joy! My excitement stems from reading Anastasia a book by Vladmir's a quote about the trees I just read from that might interest you:

The tale says the Russian (Siberian) Cedars (Pinus siberica), stand for centuries absorbing cosmic energy from the Sun, planets, ethers and stars. Like many other plants, they grow to provide healing and sustenance to humankind, and if they are not allowed to perform that function (for example, due to remoteness) they begin to audibly ring… thus advertising their location. Accompanying the tale in the books are many details about the nutritional uses, value of the cedars, and their medicinal uses.

Cedar nuts contain a lot of fat, proteins, carbohydrates, trace-elements and vitamins.[3] “Cedar oil proteins contain 19 amino acids, of which 70% are essential. Vitamins in the oil help the human body to grow (vitamin A). They stabilize the central nervous system, improve blood composition and favorably affect skin tissue (vitamins B and D). The oil is very rich in vitamin E (tocopherol). The oil is very rich in vitamin P: it contains three times as much vitamin P as the product called "Vitamin P" made using fish oil. Vitamin P is made up of essential fatty acids, which help to reduce the level of cholesterol in your bloodstream and prevent the formation of plaques on the walls of blood vessels.

Baikal is the oldest and deepest lake the world and local myth has that if you swim in it you will get 25 years extra of glorious life life life. Thomas and I will now live an extra 25 years. And maybe with the consumption of the Sacred Cedar Nut we'll live even if we are still around in 100 years you'll know why!!!! It was, I must say, the COLDEST water I have ever immersed my body in. I thought I was going to turn into an icicle and sink to the bottom of the waist high water I bravely ran into. The journey outwards was the most ungraceful escape from Alcatraz i have ever performed i was shaking and shimmering and my body was twitching as I tried to escape the pins and needles that were slowing numbing my system. My body was saving my energy to preserve my internal organs and everything else was going to sleep. All this in LESS than 1 minute! Ha ha! Fortunately i will live 25 years longer so effectively from now on I am 1 year old again just with teeth and the ability to communicate which is fortunate! Cause I wouldn't have been able to buy the cedar nut or eat it without teeth and language!

Baikal has offered us very friendly people, so friendly in fact that when walking from our B&B to the Centre yesterday we came across a wedding party who had daring young men risking their lives to enter the healing Baikal waters so we, being the good tourists we are took photos....little did we know that we would be the target of the photos as a result. I posed with 20 different Russian men, Thomas posed with the ladies each one a potential Russian bride of course. We had a photo shoot for at least 20 minutes and received so much love that by the end we felt as if we were Family and were devastated at their departure, such a void was left...yet filled with Omul later, the local Baikal fish! The markets were super, lots of Russian souvenirs to be bought, Matrioshkas (not baboushkas), pictures of Putin, Knives, And lots and lots of Shamanic tokens. Here in Baikal Shaman-ism is still ripe and active and definitely being honed in on for us tourists.

We ate at a local restaurant yesterday and were lucky to be only among Russians. On one table the guests were drinking a large amount of...VODKA...and became very festive and joyful and began singing serious Russian songs (or so it seemed to me) hugging each other and celebrating life! The first song was super! I clapped loudly, the second song was drunken and I looked away slightly embarrassingly and their departure was sloppy yet their presence was very much appreciated! We too drank Vodka, Baikal Vodka of both of us feel slightly under the weather but it can't be because of our liquid consumption, it must be the weather, its cloudy and sleepy and that MUST affect ones speed? No more vodka from now on...only juice and camel milk?

Irkutsk was a super little place in the end, Thomas and i wondered around the evening we were there and came across a large group of young men with a guitar, VODKA and the strong desire to sing sing sing. They stood around in a circle (maybe 10-12 of them) by river and sang their hearts out. THey too hugged and were very affectionate which was lovely to see. We also saw the local hippies fire twirling and collecting money, the Russian High heelers, a group of Irkutsk Hells angels on their bikes(must have been up to 16) gathered outside the town-hall, we saw a photo shoot with a slender Russian mamushka posing seductively, and absorbed the relaxed atmosphere of the Paris de Siberia!

So today we venture on with our travels. I am love filled for Baikal and if the universe permits me to, I think I will return. The Siberian Cedar has won my heart and I long to spend more time in her shade. The Lake with her mysticism and grandeur has created a peaceful haven and more time here must be had at a later point in time. And this will be it from Russia in love!

One love


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Trans Siberia so far...

Wah wah wee wah!

It has been a splendid journey so far and today I must admit I am a bit buggered (and slightly dehydrated).In Moscow we boarded the Number 2 Train (first class, latest and most updated train thank you very much) around 9pm with Salami, some fruit, our luggage and lots of excitement. We shared a four man cabin with Dima, a very shy Russian Officer who spoke very little English (or so we thought). The first evening was filled with the simple excitement of being on the train and not knowing what that entailed. We had a very cute little Russian Hostess named Anna who looked after our wagon, she too spoke little English and would blush and get slightly baffled each time I tried to communicate with her. In the end I opted for my name is Tanya in Russian which got a positive response. No Vodka was offered on our first night.

Day 2 we were so excited at seeing the scenery before us yet soon it became clear that we would see lots and lots of yes...wait for it....TREES! Trees, trees and more trees....beautiful, green magnificent, graceful, bountiful, amazing TREES. A few houses splashed in between but the most part was Trees and not forgetting grass. The excitement then turned to when does the train stop next and what food can we buy at the next station. One station offered us smoked fish, chives, tomatoes and vodka (which we didn't buy because the guide book told us we would be offered vodka left right and centre, both the German and the English ones so were sure it would come). The next station offered a variety of deep fried bread with surprise stuffings (usually meat with onion, or meat with Dill, or just meat...very tasty even for a "vegesnarian" like myself) There were pancakes also with surprise stuffings, either cottage cheese or meat with onion, or just meat. Then some stations had nothing but a station we could photograph which was a good change to the numerous photos of trees rushing past and blurred on film.

Night 2 saw Thomas and I in the food carriage having Russian red wine (grape juice mixed with vodka was my guess at what it actually was....I loved it, Thomas thought it was too sweet) and the beginning of our Backgammon championship. First we played with no double dice, then the double dice came in, and NOW, Thomas is kicking my *()#! and I can only sit and smile....I've created a monster!

Day 3 on the Train brought us a new roomie, Pawel, another Russian Army soldier, and guess what...Dima really did speak a little English and more so after we shared Vodka...finally the vodka sharing with real Russians came and it was as one can expect! Fabulous! There were a variety of meats on the table, some lemon and sugar. The key was to smell the meat, skull the vodka and then savour the smell of the meat again before eating a bite. Alternatively you smelt the lemon, skulled the vodka, savoured the smell and sucked a little on the lemon. Fun and games. I slept like a baby that night.

Day 4 on the train would be our last and I learnt how to play Russian Backgammon then shared my version with Pawel who did not appreciate losing and soon lost interest. He played a very gentle game, and refused to eat my lonesome travelers yet I ate his which resulted in my winning more often than not...I think Thomas also beat him! He was kind enough to still wave at us when we departed and the train headed for Vladivostok.

Thomas arrived in Tayshet, and were taken to a very small village of 600 people where we stayed with a local baboushka and were taken care of by her grandaughter Katya. She fed us pancakes for dinner, omelette for breakfast, and potatoes for lunch. Good Russian food! The home was humble an the toilet was outside so we had to battle the siberian mosquitoes when we exposed our bits to the world...they attacked when we were most vulnerable.

There didn't seem to much to do in the village and after we had explored the village the evening we arrived we thought we'd seen it all so we anticipated a relaxing day maybe walking the street again and then maybe just sitting at home and chatting. At about 11am the local English teacher came and took us for a walk through the village, telling us about the history when the convicts were brought under Stalin and the foundations of the Village. She told us about how the village operated under communism and how each person had to work to earn their place in the community and there were no problems like alcoholism and boredom. Today, she said, half of the male population are suffering from alcoholic abuse and in the last year they had to bury 8 of their men all ranging from ages 25 -40 who had died because of drinking too much vodka. She also told us that the youth are also suffering from not having much to do because it is such a small town and they too are turning to drinking and taking drugs to escape the mundane existence. It was a sad story, and also sad because apparently this is the case in many small towns all over Russia. After the walk Thomas and I were feeling rather heavy and contemplative about what such a community could do. We went back to the house ate some lunch and discussed viable options then fell asleep.

Around two we were woken up and told we were going on a boat trip. So we made our way to the river and there was a wild looking man in an army outfit and a tired looking woman in tight jeans and a tiny top. Going with the flow, we hopped in the boat and set off for the 'boat trip' not knowing what this would be at all. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, the trees were shimmering so a lovely boat trip it would have to be right? Right! The man Mikail was a lively and entertaining man. With no English he managed to communicate very effectively that he loved this river and he was going to show us how amazing it was. The woman was no generous at all with her smiles and sat slightly cold at the front of the boat pouting. Once we set off and were zooming along at a high speed admiring the beautiful scenery that was around, trees, trees and more glorious trees, islands started to emerge and we were completely surround by trees, it was sort of like the green lake with lighter green tones to the trees. After zooming away for about 20 minutes he pulled over to a shore where we were told to follow Katya up a we did and we went for a walk up a steep mountain and up into the taiga, we walked and smacked mosquitoes and big biting flies and it was lovely up there, great views and good vibes. then we went down again and back in the boat, we were ready to go back to the house happy with our boat trip to the taiga...but NO that was not what Mikail had in store for us. Instead he took us further along the river to a pebble beach. Started a fire. Katya pulled out some pots and proceeded to cook the most delicious chicken soup i have ever eaten. he went and picked out some leaves from the taiga and put it in the soup. then pulled out tomatoes, and other veg that he said came from his garden. we sat on the shore and ate and laughed and communicated perfectly without really knowing what we were saying. Then he started skidding rocks in the river and so Thomas and i started too and before we knew it we were throwing rocks and having competitions to see who could throw the rock furthest, we were laughing (including Katya) running, grunting and behaving like 5 year olds in a candy store. I was exhausted by the end of the day when we took the trip back at 7pm feeling as light as feathers and enjoying one another's company like old friends. Mikail and Katya took us on the best boat trip possible...

Now we are in Irkutsk the Paris of Siberia, i had far to little sleep last night due to caffeine and snoring of one of our very interesting looking roomies. So today is my lowest day so far....which is good and downs are part of the journey of life!

Internet time is running out now....Next stop lake Baikal and then Mongolia...

Russian food is good, the train is relaxing, Thomas and I are getting on very well (even though he is beating me in backgammon) we have super conversations which I enjoy very much. I am well and happy and I feel like a teenager in love at times remembering Vilnius and the lovely Lithuanian!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

To Russia with love

I have 10 minutes before I disappear for a while. I know not when I will be able to blog again.

Russia! WOW! Moscow! What a city! What a lady!!!!! Women with high heels, long legs and short skirts with men with big bellies and fat wallets. The Kremlin and the Red Square, just like out of a fairy tale, looking like you could eat them! Babouskas dancing in the street and knowing the waltz the cha cha cha, the foxtrot and other more russian inspired movements. Glamourous shops with money money money to be spent yet also glipses of a darker, grungier side. The breakfast we were offered this morning was a spread like no, meat, meat, meat, glorious cabbage and a chocolate fondue with fruit to dip into it! WOW! The heat is intense at the moment, 32 degrees in the shade! WOW!Kvas is my new favourite drink, made from dark bread with raisins in it and then slight fermented with yeast and other bacteria that make it taste AMAZING!

The Russian language is beautiful to my ears and picking up bits and pieces is proving to be a real pleasure, I think my name has brought out my Russian roots! I have three days on the train starting today and then we will be in a place called Tayshet for an evening. The train is supposed to be one of the more modern ones so luxury will be at our disposal for the beginning. AC and a shower....WOW!

Ok...1 minute left before internet disappears!

I bought a new camera so next blog will have photos!

Love and respect to all and to all love and respect!


Friday, July 16, 2010

Vilnius to Riga

I am currently in Riga after 5 magical days in Vilnius! I fell in love there! My first day was spent recovering from the bus trip and adjusting to the new surroundings. And on Day two I took a city tour which covered all the important things one needs to cover in such a culturally rich place with over 52 churches. I was given an overview of the rich pagan roots and given stories about pre soviet days vs post soviet days. Lithuania is a peaceful nation with a beautiful (rasta) flag. Yellow for the sunshine that is much loved and appreciated by the masses, Green for the abundance of Nature the nation is blessed with(forests are EVERYWHERE!), And Red for the blood that was shed in order to establish the nation! Sound familiar?

Anyways, on the Tour we got to also see the Christiania of Vilnius, Uzupio, the area claimed by the bohemian community on the other side of the river in 1999 and their constitution is beautiful:

1. Everyone has the right to live by the River VilnelÄ—, while the River VilnelÄ— has the right to flow by everyone.
2. Everyone has the right to hot water, heating in winter and a tiled roof.
3. Everyone has the right to die, but it is not an obligation.
4. Everyone has the right to make mistakes.
5. Everyone has the right to individuality.
6. Everyone has the right to love.
7. Everyone has the right to be not loved, but not necessarily.
8. Everyone has the right not to be distinguished and famous.
9. Everyone has the right to be idle.
10. Everyone has the right to love and take care of a cat.
11. Everyone has the right to look after a dog till one or the other dies.
12. A dog has the right to be a dog.
13. A cat is not obliged to love its master, but it must help him in hardness.
14. Sometimes man has the right to be unaware of his duties.
15. Everyone has the right to be in doubt, but this is not his duty.
16. Everyone has the right to be happy.
17. Everyone has the right to be unhappy.
18. Everyone has the right to be silent.
19. Everyone has the right to have faith.
20. No one has the right to violence.
21. Everyone has the right to realize his negligibility and magnificence.
22. Everyone has the right to encroach upon eternity.
23. Everyone has the right to understand.
24. Everyone has the right to understand nothing.
25. Everyone has the right to be of various nationalities.
26. Everyone has the right to celebrate or not to celebrate his birthday.
27. Everyone shall remember his name.
28. Everyone may share what he possesses.
29. No one can share what they do not possess.
30. Everyone has the right to have brothers, sisters and parents.
31. Everyone is capable of independence.
32. Everyone is responsible for their freedom.
33. Everyone has the right to cry.
34. Everyone has the right to be misunderstood.
35. No one has a right to make another person guilty.
36. Everyone has the right to be personal.
37. Everyone has the right to have no rights.
38. Everyone has the right not to be afraid.
39. Do not defeat.
40. Do not fight back.
41. Do not surrender.
42. Everyone has to right to use a moosejaw coupon

So after the bus trip I decided I had to return to Uzupio and have lunch there, on my way, I saw a man walking, he had really interesting tatoos on his leg and I have recently discovered that Tatoos are physically appealing to me. Before I knew it we were happily communicating and he took me on the short cut to Uzupio where he lived. He then offered to take me to a lake and I spent the rest of my days with him and his lovely Room mate Linas. We went to three different lakes, watched Spain steal the hopes of the Dutch, ate vege food in a cellar, took a yoga class, cooked lentils, watched a Lithuanian movie projected against a brick wall, danced salsa, played foozball (which is a very common past time for young Lithuanians...and they're AMAZING at it! My skills were totally inferior, I felt like either Australia or South Africa in the world cup, full of enthusiasm and with lots of support but skills were lacking in comparison to the masters I competed against) drank Giro and did a little bit of sight seeing and existed in a world where everything and anything was possible. I was really sad to say good bye to Vilnius even after I chose to stay 2 days longer than I had anticipated. I would have stayed forever if I could but the transiberia trip starts on Saturday and I have to get to Moscow! So Riga....

Riga....has been my transitional stop in order to get to Moscow, it is a pretty city, bigger than Vilnius and MANY more tourists. My hostel is Super, anyone wanting a fun place to stay, i recommend The Naughty Squirrel here...great people running the joint and a lovely bunch of coconuts staying here at the moment. Good AC rooms with big beds and free tea and coffee ALL DAY!!!! Yes!!! AMAZING!!! I met a very lovely woman from Melbourne here and we spent the day roaming today. We were recommended a Latvian restaurant and when we eventually found it were blessed with an incredible array of Latvian hearty meals which were cheap and tasty. It is really hot at the moment, 32 degrees and the sun is really doing her job of heating the world here. At the hostel you can go and shoot an AK47 and some other guns, the offer didn't appeal too much to me despite the offer of instant adrenalin rush.

I'll be arriving in Moscow in the morning and have to find my way to the metro station and then to the hotel which is a few stops on the dark blue line in a North East Direction from the city....Hopefully it is as simple as this! I'm told that no signs are in the alphabet I am familiar I must have faith that some humans are going to be so good as to assist me on the first part of the journey!

I feel very happy with life at the moment. I feel free and liberated by the thought that all that has happened and is happening is just as it should be! Perfect! I feel refreshed by the romance shared in Vilnius and ready for all that is to come!

One love!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

G'dansk to Vilnius

At 5.30am I arrived in Vilnius, Lithuania. After a 10 hour bus journey I was buggered to the bone...but was unable to get into my dorm until sleep deprived and very giddy I wandered the old baroque town of this here lovely city. Europe is truly spectacular with it's multitude of hidden treasures!

Poland was such a positively refreshing experience and now that I'm here and able to reflect I feel blessed. Patryk opened his home to me, showed me around some of G'Dansks hidden treasures(Like the mariacki cathedral in the old town which was sooooooooooo beautiful, and the view from the tower, breathtaking), provided me with stimulating conversation, laughter and home made food...He provided me with the most delicious breakfast of cheese and chives and he also made me an exquisite dinner before dropping me at the bus stop and making sure I boarded the right bus! Thank you rock!!!!! Love love love is the key!

Sopot was walking up and down Monte Casino with caricaturists selling their services, budding talented artists practicing their skills on the streets. Ice cream at every corner, big waffles with toppings galore, polish dumplings, vodka and apple juice and chilly hot-chocolate. It is Greenway and Bioway vege extravagnzas, Beetroot soup and La La La.

G'dansk is SOLIDARITY!!! Did you know that it was in G'dansk that the struggle to bring down communism in Europe began? I didn't! But now after having visited the Solidarity Museum I am that little bit wiser about the Polish contribution to the revolution. It all started at the ship yard and resulted in the fall of the Berlin Wall! I was taken to the shipyard to a funky industrial styled cafe by Patryk too.

Today I didn't indulge in too much tourism, I mainly ate, sat and drank liquids to replenish myself after the bus trip. I shall go to bed early (after the football) and tomorrow I hope to be a good tourist and visit some important spots. Vilnius is the Jerusalem of Europe, it's very pretty, it's got some rich history (which I currently know nothing of) tomorrow though is a new day! New things to learn and new adventures to be had.

It's also my first segment of the journey that I'm on my own....I did meet a lovely Dutch lass on the bus with whom I spent the morning with...but since 9am I've been cruising solo!~~I'm also sharing a dorm with 5 Belgian women on a Baltic journey so one isn't ever really alone.

Did I mention that I lost my camera at Open'er festival....well I did so I have to some how get a new one cause There are so many pretty things to take fotos of....I've been forced to take mind snaps.

Ok...over and out!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

All alone now...

This morning Tord left me and returned to Norway. We ate breakfast and then I waved him good bye with tears rolling down my cheeks. The last remnants of my Norway stay left with him and now I have the possibility of actually mourning my that part of my life.

I'll be leaving La La La Arthotel today as well, it has been such an incredible place to stay, so serene and such great vibes. Tonight I've been invited to stay with Patryk, Tord and I met him a couple of days ago and he gave us a private tour of the area which was lovely. We then watched Spain beat Germany with him last night....the Polish audience were extatic! Apparently the Poles don't dig Ze Germans so much and to see them lose such an important footbal game was really an event to be celebrated with style!

Tord and I spoilt ourselves with Thai Massages yesterday....ay yay yay! To be physically spoilt is such joy for the mind body and spirit. I was smothered in warm coconut oil and given a slightly hard relaxing journey. I felt a tropical island afterwards, filled with hula dancing girls and pinhacoladas. We also have spoilt ourselves with culinary pleasures, ate at an exclusive sushi restaurant the other night and have indulged in vege expertise at Greenway(a vege fast food joint as commonplace as KFC here in Poland). I've discovered a new favourite drink here in Poland, VOLDKA!!!! I had no idea it could be so good and so diverse and did I mention GREAT! There are two brands in particular that are amazing but their names are beyond me. One of them has a Bison on it and a piece of hay inside it, one has to drink it with apple juice to fully appreciate the multi-layered delights that explode in the mouth....ay yay yay!!!! The other comes in different flavours and my favourite is the herbal one, I had it with red bull....(when i wasn't drinking it straight...cause that's how we roll:) and it was DELISH!

The forests here in The great Gdansk region are spectacular, lots of greenery goodness that supplies the region with fresh air and homes for insects, and other such tree dwelling inhabitants. The Poles are also blessed with fresh and pesticide free fruit and veg, they seem to me to be quite a concious nation with regards to nature and food....perhaps I've only been exposed to that side of things....and i'll keep fooling myself if I'm wrong. I like it here and am grateful to have spent the last week here. The next leg of the journey is yet to be organised...though i don't have any doubts that it'll all work out as it should!

So over and out!


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Open'er and more

Right now I sit in Sopot, a cosy little holiday town of about 30,000 inhabitants. It's inbetween Gdynia and Gdansk and is the perfect place to be after the 4 day Open'er festival I recently attended. Here my friend, Tord and I have booked 3 days at Arthotel which is absolutely perfect. It's a small hotel on the outside of town, near the forests. Each room was designed by a different artist and there is a funky little bistro downstairs. Three days of much appreciated peace and hygiene will our way come!

The festival was fun! We camped with a group of Australians all linked through some common source. Blue skies and slight breezes blessed us for 5 days (and still the weather is flawless). The evenings were chilly by contrast and one had to either move like crazy in order to stay warm or wear warm clothes! The one artist I really looked forward to was Regina Spektor and on Saturday night she wooed us with her amazing voice, vision and presence! It was amazing! So too were Tinariwen who took me on a hypnotic journey into North Africa! Fat Boy Slim had me boogying like crazy on the last night, Yeasayer had an incredible looking guitarist who also sang like and angel, Damian Marley was dreamy, Matisyahu was calm and centred and I really enjoyed his vibe. Kings of Convenience were beautiful and filled with positivity, Die Antwood were dirty yet fantabulous and I got to get down and nasty on the dance floor thanks to their vulgar lyrics and dancehallish ridims!

So...I've left Norway now! I've got a backpack that is a bit too heavy, my wallet and a rough plan for the next few months. I'd like to go from here to Warsaw, up to Vilnius, Riga and then Tallinn. From Tallinn across to St. Petersburg, down to Moscow and then Trans Siberia journey with Thomas will begin. From Beijing on nothing is certain or really thought through...though I'd like to travel down to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and eventually Northern Australia. Then work my way down the coast till I find a safe haven in my Mommy's home. That's the rough plan...what eventuates will be another thing of course....then again, maybe not! Maybe my desires will come to fruition.

During Open'er I realised that one of my core fears is that of been rejected! Of letting people close and getting rejected in the end! I hope by the end of this trip that rejection won't matter! I also hope I am able to breath and meet some super humans who will be able to share parts of the Journey with me. Doing it on my own will be made that much better if I have some one to share it with at times. It's been a pleasure having Tord with me here in Poland as it was seeing Rom and Mim again...sharing moments was lovely! I met a woman called Regina from Germany and she had been travelling on her own and she confessed to having resorted to speaking to herself at times....I too did this on the first night of the festival when I'd lost Rom and Tord. Fun and games!

And now I shall send some emails to my family and let them know all is good in the hood...I'm sure they'll be operating on the no news is good news is good news too some times and probably appreciated for peace of mind.

Until the next stop! One love