Leaving Patong for my 4 flight trek to Rishikesh. 20 minutes into the late night bus ride to Phuket airport and I realise that IT’S THE WRONG DAY! Yes, that’s right, I am arriving at the airport a good 24 hours before I’m scheduled to. Sh*t.
Not the type to panic, I actually feel a sudden sense of joy that I have an extra full 24 hours in limbo land… score! Arriving at the airport, I get myself some wifi to check out where to stay for the night. Damn. The pickings are slim and the prices are three times that as Patong, and the quality is less than three times as poor. Maybe they will give me a better deal as a walk-in? The closest hotel is 350m from the airport. I decide to walk and check myself into a shocker of a place that is basically the granny flat off a garage. And the price is higher for walk ins. By this point I’m exhausted, hungry and am having a killer internal dialogue about how sh*tty the situation ended up. I start walking to find some dinner, seething. I’m hungry, my room sucks, its costing me a fortune. Then I stop. I realise where I am. Again, alone. In a dark street in Thailand. No-one knows where I am, its limbo land. And this is what I live for. Suddenly my spirit lifts. I realise how free I am, how fortunate I am. I think of the timid girl in Patong who was shocked that I was going to India alone – “aren’t you scared??” and I feel liberated. In the darkness I walk alone, looking into the depths of my consciousness and finding light.
This is how I find it. This is why I walk alone.
I find a local restaurant, take a delicious thai meal washed down with a Chang then head across the road to the supermarket. What a place! The aisles are packed to the rafters with everything from coconuts to children’s fairy costumes and there are little Thai faces staring at the blonde beast before them giggling as they shout out “hello!”. I grab myself some supplies and head back to my garage just in time for the rain. Rain, rain and more rain. I have a tummy bug and end up spending my entire extra day in limbo land in bed in my garage with the rain falling hard. When I finally have to check out, I head the 350m to the airport and find myself a seat to call home for the next 7 hours before the first leg of my flight.
Arriving in Bangkok.
Little did I realise when I booked my flight, I had a 1 hour trek from the domestic airport terminal to the international airport. At 12pm with a connecting flight at 5:10am. Yikes. I run and just make the free shuttle and manage to get myself through Bangkok check in without falling asleep and start searching for somewhere to call home for the night, well at least for the two hours I have remaining. Bangkok airport. What an experience! Luxurious cushioned seats and enough room to cartwheel the whole way to the gate. I find a bench to call home and fortunately manage to wake up as my flight is being called for boarding.
Start leg 2 of trip to Rishikesh.
I think I’m the only non-Indian man on this flight. The man in front will not stop staring at me. Thankfully I’m seated next to a charming young Indian guy who had just finished volunteering to teach English in Thailand. He is very liberal and becomes my first friend in India! Turns out he’s on my next flight too. My little guardian angel warding off the otherwise blatant stares from the older men on this series of flights. He even manages to score me a free vegetarian meal. What a sweetie!
The last leg.
I arrive in Delhi and have one more leg to. I decide to grab a drink and find that they have Boost Juice here – only it’s called Joost and the service is less than desirable. Oh well, I have a boost of vitamins to counteract the zero sleep I have tonight.
Finally I arrive in Dehradun and a jolly man is waiting for me holding a sign with my name on it. We jump in the car and start driving through the jungle. There are monkeys everywhere and he tells me stories of elephants and tigers. I am blown away and declare that if I see an elephant I will fall to the ground in a puddle of tears. I never expected to be so close to them in the wild! The jungle here is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen and almost brings me to tears. We wind around bends of lush green and waterfalls. Finally we come to the Ganges and I’m blown away. Its the end of rainy season and this infamous river is INCREDIBLE.
As we near the hotel, we are dodging brightly coloured locals en route to the Hindi Temple, cows that belong to the Ashram and are roaming free, and street dogs lazily sleeping in the sun. The hotel is opposite the Ganges with the soaring mountains in the background. I have made it.
I’m greeted by some very young faces and start to panic that I’ve made a poor choice for my teacher training… these kids are going to teach me philosophy?! And then Vishnu walks in and in an instant clears any doubt in my mind. This man is unearthly. I am in the right place.
I drop my bags, meet my roomie, Dee – an incredibly bubbly Kundalini fanatic from London and take myself straight to the rooftop yoga studio. I open all of the windows looking straight onto the ganges and start my practice, alone. The energy of the mountains and the Ganges are penetrating the room and despite no sleep, I have an incredibly deep yoga session and fall heavily into Savasana. Without going into details that will have you thinking I’ve completely lost my marbles, let’s just say it was an INTENSE meditation!
After yoga practice I decide to head out for a walk to get my bearings and bump straight into Dee and a friend. They are heading to a ceremony by the river, so I decide to join them. We walk along, the local children waving frantically at us giggling and their parents smile with the most heart warming grins. I feel welcome here. We pass so many cows it’s ridiculous and I grab myself some street potatoes with chili. De-f*cking-licious. Finally we make it to the temple where the ceremony takes place and I decide to grab a banana leaf filled with flowers, candles and incense to let go on the river. There are people everywhere and I imagine they all want to sell me something, but no, they just want to get me down to the river in time to experience it. A man decorates me in bindi stamps, throws me some matches for my banana leaf and sends me on my way. We arrive to a collective consciousness like I have never experienced before. We are so welcomed and encouraged to be right down the front. We are blessed with water, with smoke, with song. Everyone has so much joy and its so overwhelming that Dee starts to cry! Is it a special day? Well of course, it is today! This ceremony will happen just the same tomorrow, and the next day and the day after that. A whole hearted celebration given so much energy every single day. It’s out of this world. I can’t believe I’m here.
And we haven’t even started yet.