Ca se passe bien.

Ideas make you stronger. But really, the strength  – the fire leading your feet from the beginning – it has always been inside you. Losing the idea is painful; it is like a big cold slap – like the Dutch wind in the winter. It feels like your most precious thing is taken away from you. What you thought defined you – the idea – is gone, forever. You took this ‘’ base’’ for granted – a family, a friendship, a love story. But it crashed, unexpectedly. In your dizziness, you tend to forget how strong you truly are, how you have always been; and before you know it you are gone under waves of desperation and lamentation. These are your enemy. Stand up, and if you have to cry do it with pride. Rise up, for whatever you have to fight for – or against, is right in front of you.

You were strong from the beginning. Everything you are, everything you do, everything you own; it has always been yours, and it is yours forever if you want it. The idea that you were not alone helped you walking straight, faster, longer, further. But really, it was a shadow – and not even your own.

It is just an idea. The idea you were not alone, the idea you were supported, the idea you could do what you have done thanks to someone else, something else – necessarily bigger than you. But now, listen. Now, know. You were alone when it all started, and you will be alone when it will end. You are alone, and you are sufficient. You build up a legacy, of your own; thanks to your very self. Fire! Your light and warmth gathered people, owners of their own sparks. Together you move on, and that is only because each and every one of you is sufficient: self-sufficient, self-constructor, self-fired.

The idea to belong to a group, a family, a whole is comforting. But it does not define you. Lose the idea; hold tight to your own intensity. You are enough, you have always been.

This energy of yours is alive, it goes up and down. Alternately you feed or get fed by others. This is how we go on. All of us. Energies are carried on, shared and cared for. Sometimes you carry more, sometimes you care more. And the world is in balance, as long as you remember that you are needed as your very self, and that this very self is powerful and abundant.

Let go of the ideas.  You only define yourself. Not your mother, not your husband, not your oldest friends, not your boss. You are you. And if we can accept to have been created by some kind of big bang, I am confident we will manage someday to accept ourselves. Be, believe, bhakti.

Ca va bien se passer. Ca se passe déjà pas mal.

The source of invicibility

The eagle has landed. But I keep my wings open. I haven’t unpacked yet.

I am not here yet, not there anymore. I am floating in a state of mind that I find hard to describe and hard to live in. Coming back is the best reflection to all of my changes. Not much is different here, but my perspective and my expectations are not as they used to be.

I suffer from the jetlag, not because I am tired but because all my free time has gone. I used to wake up to mornings I would have entirely to myself, for all my relatives would be sleeping on the other side of the world. I would only have to worry about the outside of my bubble for the few hours of sunshine in both our skies. This freedom window has gone; I left it behind without even knowing it.

I am therefore conquering a new kind of freedom, building it up slowly and carefully. It is not as easy as it sounds, either as I thought it would be. It is fascinating to see how quickly I reconnect with my (bad) habits of consumption and (wrong) idea of happiness now that I am in Europe. I am constantly bringing myself back to the roots I unearthed as I was cruising around the globe. The exercise now is all about finding, giving and saving a place for all the memories, lessons and dreams I collected.

To all the ‘’and now’’ I have heard since I have set foot on the Swiss ground, I want to smile and say: now we see. Now we live. Now we enjoy the life lesson. I have no plan but thousands of envies, there is no rush but thousands of opportunities, there is no rule but thousands of possibilities, and I have no limit but thousands of stories. I am so excited for what is coming; also a little scared when I see how fast life is going. I just do not want to miss a thing.

It is the weirdest thing to be back in a place I love, with people I love, feeling so different and yet the closest to myself I have ever been. I have left the guilt behind, I brought up the confidence. I am slowly walking back into a structured life; but I am fighting against the constant count which was running my freedom and spontaneity. Counting the laps I swim, the calories I eat, the hours I have left before a meeting, counting and organizing every minute of every day : this is precisely what I do not want to go back to.

I realize my luck now is in the new chance I get to re structure the life I haven’t started yet. I know what I can do, I know what I want to do, I know what I like to do, and I know what I must do. I can draw my own balance, my own rules, my own way. Without running away from any responsibility, any problem nor any fear. If I ever feel stuck again, I will remember this is not a position, it is a stepping stone.

Now? I can build up my life with my new standards, my new perspective and priorities; and more importantly with my faithful loved ones, my awaken roots and my treasured dreams.

Now is the time to shine, authentic, finally.

Bring it on! Bhakti is leading my steps, nothing can go wrong, and everything is possible.

Sweet Swiss Time

Yesterday, as I was leaving the island and staring at her getting smaller and smaller, the feeling came back again. When my throat is choking on my heart, aching and taking all the space is my chest, stealing my breath away.

I thought it was exploding. But now I know what was happening. It was expanding, again. For it has been fed and filled with the best of delicacies. Mayfly moments with authentic people, blowing wind in the wings I now fearlessly spread. And as we sail away, I surprisingly feel happy.

This place, like all the others I lived by to eventually leave behind, is nothing but a piece of land. All ends of the world begin to seem so close to each other once you start connecting them. Pieces of everything. Pieces, not to collect but to connect. Pieces of one wonderful whole world. Nothing is mine, but I was at home and ease everywhere. Nothing is mine and I left in all places more than I took, as it should be.

If I am completely sincere, the all idea of the trip was to get away. At the end of these days, I got a way. Miles and smiles, truths and dares, fears and hopes… From away to my way, I have been browsing and formatting to finally reconnecting all my dots.

My travels have washed over my entire being: across seas and wonder lands I rolled on grass, snow, in sand and sea; I walked in shoes, mud and even by accident on the edge of a coral; I stood in the rain, in the sun, in the wrong train and with my doubts sometimes; I slept in buses, trains, bungalows, on beaches; long chairs and boats – once on a yoga mats too; I conquered volcanos, mountains, rocks, jungles and most of my fears…  And at the end of each day, I smiled at myself in the mirror. Out of pride, gratitude and happiness.

It is impossible for me to pick the best part of the trip. The best part is now, it always was now. Think about it, and see : all the chances to take, the magic to make, the hands to shake, the limits to break, the love to awake, (the pancake) …there is so much more to life than hate and ache. The best part is what I will make out of each day I will open my eyes to. The best part is all the people I can keep on sharing my love and life with. The best part is now, perfectly in balance between precious memories and a future to make up. A constant work in progress, with waves to catch and ride; a continuous process getting through letting out and in; a never ending journey that I intend to continue regardless of the shoes I am wearing.  Especially now that I tried bare feet hiking.

It is now, ever and always.

I am flying tomorrow to Switzerland, and cannot wait for my brother to pick me up from the airport. First time travelling alone, first time being picked up at the airport. Also (very) excited to eat cheese. Family VS cheese: the impossible ranking.

I painted my toenails red, marking the end of my outflow and claiming back my femininity. Over the past months, I never ran out of style (…), but I did extend my hygienic boundaries – I must admit it feels good to reconnect with habits such as foot scrub and laundry. I am not going to quit eating everything with my hands tho, it simply taste better. Not too sure about raclette… to be continued.

Bhakti

La terrasse surplombe la baie d’Aow Leuk. Pacifique étendue bleue, pleine de nuances et de nageurs. Ce n’est pas tant que ce soit magnifique, c’est que c’est sans prétention. La magie se lève avec le soleil tous les matins ; tout recommence, toujours, cycliquement, paisiblement. Tout est différent à chaque fois, et moi aussi.

Est-ce un miracle ? Ces roches desquelles jaillissent une jungle généreuse peuplée d’acrobates ; ces turquoises baies, noires de coraux et d’amis tropicaux ; ces cieux que la nuit déchire dans un cri de rage, et que le jour, en un éclair, illumine de divines lumières ?

Koh tao me donne des ailes, des écailles, et des frissons. A genoux, en tailleur, tour à tour rôtissant ma face et mon pile, en flottant, en équilibre sur 5 orteils, sur deux avant- bras, ancrée dans mes tongs… je ressens tout un peu plus intensément.

Si j’ai eu peur, je ne m’en souviens pas. Pas à cet instant précis en tous cas, où le soleil se couche déjà sur ma dernière journée à Koh Tao. Je suis ‘’high’’, et plus que jamais je suis moi. Je suis high en bonheur, adrénaline, courage, excitation et impatience aussi. Mais par dessus tout, je suis high en Bhakti.

Bhakti : amour et dévouement. L’amour, au nom de l’amour. En partant de l’amour propre, et en développant un amour que l’on veut universel. Plus que de l’amour, c’est un stade de paix intérieur ultime qui résulte du respect de soi même ; et qui conduit à une ouverture et un déploiement vers l’autre, tous les autres ; pour que chacun trouve cette même paix.

Je suis là, en plein dans mon Bhakti. Je l’ai vu et j’y vis. J’y nage, j’y vole, j’y exalte ; et je veux le chanter à tout le monde, à tout ce monde à qui je souhaite de se trouver, de le trouver. Je ne suis pas illuminée, je suis en paix. Tissées au fil des états que j’ai traversés, ma paix et ma liberté sont mes plus précieux bagages ; et je me souhaite de ne jamais les oublier même après les avoir posés, rangés.

J’ai ouvert les yeux ce matin, après une nuit des plus paisibles. De façon mécanique, j’ai rassemblé mes affaires, comme je l’ai fait des dizaines de fois ces derniers mois.  Ce n’est jamais le dernier matin ; même si c’est aujourd’hui que je quitte l’ile. Il n’y a ni premier ni dernier jour, si l’on donne à chaque jours les mêmes chances de nous surprendre, de nous emmener ailleurs, de nous rencontrer autrement.

Tout ne sera pas toujours beau, et dans nos forts intérieurs des parasites viendront enfoncer nos portes ; à coups de poing, de pieds, de couteaux parfois. Aussi difficile que cela puisse paraitre, il faut continuer à choisir le camp de la paix. Il faut apprendre à trouver dans ce monde déroutant, parfois dégoutant, cette paix intérieure et parvenir à la propager pour que plus qu’un bouclier, elle finisse par devenir la normalité. On ne peut pas accepter de vivre dans un monde de rage, on ne peut pas céder à la violence, ni à la peur même si elle semble être aujourd’hui le foyer le plus confortable.

Le confort n’est pas la solution. Pas durable en tous cas. Sans se perdre dans une quête continue et perdre son temps à satisfaire des envies (souvent matérielles) démesurées qu’on ne saurait bientôt plus gérer ; il ne faut pas pour autant se conforter et se confondre dans une zone dite de confort qui n’est autre qu’une gangrène de notre liberté. Il faut prendre le temps de trouver une alternative, de la construire. Les châteaux que nous habitons finissent par nous hanter, car nous ne les voyons plus pour ce qu’ils sont : des cartes, qu’il nous appartient de jouer. Il faut reprendre le pouvoir, et par cela j’entends notre responsabilité. La latence générale, l’attente insupportable, le temps qui nous échappe : il faut y mettre un terme. Pour et par nous-même d’abord, puis j’ose espérer pour l’humanité.

A force de tous s’attendre, le mal pourrait s’étendre, pour finalement nous éteindre. On ne peut pas accepter cela. Il faut croire, en ce que l’on veut ; mais y croire tellement fort que nos convictions et notre persévérance nous portent à n’être que bon et généreux envers cette terre qui nous porte. Je crois en cette force qui nous amènera à délivrer à tort et à travers notre message de paix. Trouver Bhakti, en soi, pour le partager, en somme.

Bhakti n’a pas de forme, de nom, de couleur ou de religion. Bhakti n’est qu’une force qu’il faut sourcer, nourrir, pour que tout (re)prenne vie ; pour qu’à son tour elle prenne le dessus.

 

Focus

Every evening, as the sky puts on its pretty pink on, I am sitting on the terrace of my bungalow. Tonight, the sea is so calm it reflects the pretty shadow of the sky, and Shark Island looks more than ever like a precious jewel.

There is nothing like the power of the sea. Nothing that makes me feel alive like a salty wind, waving on the surface of a crystal clear water. It takes away all the troubles as it brings a powerful and renewing energy. Water is an element I can easily surrender to: floating in trust, swimming in harmony, breathing slowly, I feel at peace. Of all places, under water probably is the one relaxing me the most for I do not think about a thing and let myself float, weightless, through corals and nosy fish.  I might have been floating for a good 5 minutes above that heart shaped coral today in Mango Bay before I could take my eyes off of it.

Yesterday morning, as I was walking down the rocks, about to jump into my morning swim, I met my neighbor whose daily routine consist in walking 10 kilometers, and swim about the same distance back to his place. I followed him for a bit, swimming along the rocky coast. There, shy but graceful, a baby shark, sneaking his way around other submarine lives. I figured at this exact moment that screaming a happy ‘’oh’’ under water was not a good idea. My submarine behavior training does not stop there. Later in the afternoon, chasing some more baby sharks in Shark Bay, I found myself facing a giant turtle. Peacefully having lunch, she did not move an inch when I started choking after I stupidly and contentedly smiled at her. Once I caught my breath back, I followed her, swimming back offshore. Graceful, it looked like she was flying, going up and down, playing in the waves and following the courants. Absolutely stunning. Unlike all the trash I found and picked up on my swim back to the beach.

It is unreal and upsetting to see how nature is disrespected, and misunderstood. Taking this island for example: people come and go, hundreds of them, every day. Most of them are consumers, when you would expect them to be conservators.

Observing the behavior or many people is the kind of activity that will make you lose faith in the humankind. Unless there is a real threat to our lives, we do not care; not about each other and not about anything around us. This behavior tends to radically change in the upsetting event of life threat, but other than that there hardly is any human cohesion.

In the most basic state of our human life, we respond to cultural and educational codes which taught us to be selfish and competitive. Travelling has become a trophy run: it is about checking in, selfi-ing the moment and bragging about it on social media – with the right filter. On the surface of some popular blue bay water, dozens of boats relay each other all day : hundreds of safety jackets with fins are dropped, with googles to enjoy the show but no instructions about the fragile environment they are projected into. Suffering corals become a stand for selfies, and everyday life suffocates and dies in this world of silence. Soon the happy laughs and hysterical screams come back to the surface and content faces smile at camera’s screens displaying the underwater shooting. This somehow feels like accomplishment.

We want to possess, to check in, to show the world how great we are and potentially how better our life is. We want a picture with that fish, without knowing its name. We want a piece of that coral; because it is pretty and we need to take it back home. We want to cut down that tree so we can make a table out of it and clear the view in front of our window. We want pictures of everything around, so we can show the world what we actually did not look at, and everything we are missing while looking into a camera instead of enjoying the show and feeling the nature.

We use the nature for the wrong purpose, and we think we can always make it oke. The trail is washed away by the rain? Let me make a concrete road here. When nature sends us messages, not only we ignore them but we adopt a tougher behavior to fight her reaction. This cannot last.

I walked today from Aow Leuk, in south east Koh Tao to Mango Bay, in north west. Walking up (!) hills, through the jungle, and finally down to a beautiful beach; I witnessed many human attemps to settle in nature – houses and roads in places where only trees should grow. Why is it so hard to enjoy a place wihout thinking « i want to make it mine. Let’s build a house here, there is nothing around! ».

Sure, while sitting on that huge rock on the highest peak, facing the ocean, I thought « let’s never leave ». But this is not my place, not my rock, not my land. It is my responsibility to keep it clean, and to make sure that anyone could have the thrilling experience of climbing this massive rock, and enjoy this unique spot. We must stop turning natural wonders into money machines, not everything is supposed to be efficient and interesting. Some things just are, and we have to learn to be oke with that.

Experiences should be sufficient. The need to tag, capture and possess is not only killing the essence of the moment, but more importantly the planet we live on.

I love capturing moments, I do take pictures. But not of everything, from every angle. When I find myself surrounded by anything so powerful that I surrender to it, my first instinct is not to capture it. I surrender, I let it happen. I let it get into me, into my skin, into my veins; I let it do whatever it is doing to me. I enjoy it: I breathe the air; feel the rocks, the leaves, the rain, the sweat; let the flavors and perfumes invade my full body; I hold on to a smile or a friendly hand. I let it all happen to me, from head to toes. And then, if I think about it – which happens less and less often, I take a picture of it.

But first, I let it happen. And I can not stress enough how life changing this process has been. Learning how to be a part of it all : belonging instead of owning. Respecting instead of dominating. Experiencing instead of searching more.

Finally living, instead of constantly leaving.

In that way, my travel has become a crusade. I was looking for something, for a deeper sense to life than ‘’birth, life and death’’. But it was in me all along, just buried by codes and beliefs trying to educate and shape my feelings and reactions. Being away from my social mold for a few weeks, I found out a lot more about my real needs and intentions. I have found myself in many new ways and I am pleased about all discoveries.

I am not here to possess, but to care – nothing is mine, I am a part of it all. I shall not try to dominate, but eventually to manage energies and intentions I feel around me.  Competition among living creatures is a made up concept, the fight is exhausting and unnecessary. We need to re-focus.

Focus. This is what I was missing a few months ago. I could not find the time and space to think, to free up my mind and ideas, to give a place to my feelings and therefore to build anything for myself. The rhythm we live in might seem comfortable, but it is perverted and it keeps us (un)balanced between some kind of excitement / pride of social achievement – keeping us in a fake state of euphoria – and exhaustion – keeping us from thinking clearly about what we want and need. The excitement acts like a fuel, to keep the exhaustion manageable. Until, thank god it is Friday! 2 days break from modern esclavagism.

Once I got over the exhaustion and start thinking for myself, following my very own rhythm, I realized how my so called achievements were far from my interests, and values. Having free time:  free to do, think and move; this is the real treasure in life. Not to be inactive, but to never lose touch with yourself.

Stepping away, just long enough to be able to re-focus. This is all I needed, and this trip is what it took. It hit me in many ways and many places. Lately, it hit me again as I was taking a Muay Thai class here in Koh Tao. Back home, I was training with the wrong intentions. I wanted to sweat out the parts of my body I was not at peace with, and I wanted to hit, aim, and fight. My lack of confidence would always keep me from being efficient in the last one, so I would end up doing pony dances and laughing my fears away.

Whatever you intend to do, if the intentions are set wrongly, the results will come poorly.

I am not scared of the ring in Koh Tao, and I enjoy every punches and kicks. I still love planking. I am having fun, finding my limits, improving my accuracy, playing with my shadow and creating combinations that actually make sense. Someone else’s punches are not a threat anymore, but an invitation to progress. I can hardly express the positivity I got out of the classes I followed the last days. It feels like I found myself physically, after working hard on meeting myself spiritually.

Being at peace with myself brought me to a better place with the world around me. I am not afraid to surrender, and I actually find happiness in being defeated for I see it as a learning opportunity. I am not exhausted, and I am not euphoric. I am in balance. And suddently, the bumpy ride is not as scary anymore.

Blessing bliss. And counting…

How could one be unhappy on this island? and to a certain extend, on this planet?

Taking anything for granted is the biggest mistake one can do. If everything really started with a Big Bang, then everything could end the same way. And no one could explain. If there is no origin to what we call the origin, if we have to accept that we all started with a bang (well, we did; didn’t we ..?), everything might as well disappear just as it appeared.

In the society I belong to, we always look forward to any kind of escape from our daily occupation; despite the fact that we might love what we do. The energy circulating in our society might be thrilling sometimes, but let us remember that at the end of the day it is everything but natural. We lose ourselves in a made up system which alienates our senses and thoughts. We might not have full conscious of this, as we progress in our daily function; but once we disconnect from the sphere we were thrown in comes a time for realization. Especially if we have enough time to connect to nature – we realize how small our social achievements are.

It is easy to let those thoughts go, play and dance into my mind. Because from where I stand, lay, hang, eat, float… everything is peace and beauty. Under water, on the surface, on boats, on land, on the slippery rocks, on the burning sand, in the shadow and upside down in a handstand : life is sweet, relaxing, energizing and rewarding.

The sun wakes me up for my morning yoga practice. I did not get a lot of sleep for the last three nights. Storms here are a show you do not want to miss. The structure of my hut would not let me anyways. In unison, my heart, my bed and the windows of the bamboo hut are shaking as the thunders burst.

I am going to miss this sky. Deeply blue as long the sun dominates; turning pink as the moon makes an entrance; pulling off that dark black giving the stars all the room to shine; breaking into pieces before a new peaceful day rises. Dramatic and splendid, like an opera playing every day without losing any of its magic.

In every place I visited, I have learned. One of the most valuable life lessons I am bringing back hone with me is the one I had over the last few days. How to equilibrate. Observing and experiencing other cultures has enlightened the limits of the one I call mine.  But it still is mine, and knowing it better does not make me want to reject it. I just want to be able to be at peace within it. Knowing me better will lead this process to success.  To come to a perfect balance between the outer world and my inner self, I am working on yoga techniques, and more specifically on meditation. As much as I could have had a judgmental look on those techniques a while ago, I am grateful for letting them into my life today.

Let go. It is all about letting go. Taking responsibility for your own actions, and letting go of everything you cannot have control on. Letting the things happen to you, and using the energies brought by them. Balancing, dancing if you prefer, between all life’s events, leading your way with good intentions.  All energies and or emotions have a reason to be, and all of them can be managed and used. I am amazed with the power I gain over myself with simple meditation, twice a day. I do realize the real challenge will start in a few weeks, when I will have to make time and space for my practice. Intentions are nothing without dedication. Just as dedication gives dimension and power to any project.

Letting go. Of fears, to start with. Of controlling behaviors, to continue. Of self-judgment, as a bonus.

On land, I started this process with the meditation practice; and yoga postures I never dared to try before. I found myself today with my head on the floor, ass in the air, knees cuddling my chest. I remember being unable to do a simple cartwheel when I was at school, for I was too scared to lose balance and face if both my feet were not on the floor. High five with my 7 years old self.

Under water, not only I was spinning, swinging and dancing; but more importantly I was diving. With actual diving gears, totally immersed in water. I have always felt like a fish in water, for as long as I could keep my head up. Snorkeling was already stressful for I would need to submerge my head, therefore my eyes, therefore my contacts. I do realize I am wearing googles but I do not trust those things. In my mind, a drop of sea water magically turns into ocean wave once in my mask and before I know it my contacts would be gone and I would be blind. Yes, that quickly. But then I figured I have plenty of contacts with me, so if I lose one to the Bay of Thailand I might still survive. So I went diving. And I was so excited that I forgot to take my camera.

I am not sorry. Cameras and the opportunities to take pictures take your attention away from the experience. I am happy I went down there with my eyes, my fears, my beating heart and my wonderful master diver Celia.

Everything takes a bit more time under water. Reactions are delayed. But the peace and the love were instantaneous. It is another kind of silence, another dimension. Everything is open, accessible: this is the best playground I was ever invited into. The visibility is restricted to the mask, and I like to see it as a window. I am free to look all around but only one wonder at a time; it is like a forced focus. I experience it as a way to teach me a different approach to the world, to the way I look at things:  one at a time, observe, enjoy, understand before eventually looking around. Everything is alive and works together; the undersea world is another facet to the planet we walk on. Mermaiding my way around corals, lover fish and colorful creatures, I follow the excited sign of Celia to find myself facing a blue dotted ray, getting cleaned by a bunch of tiny fish. Relaxed, laying in the soft white sand, the ray makes a spectacle of herself.

I come back to the surface after nearly an hour of pure bliss, with wide eyes and smile. I went back today to the same spot, but conquering the surface on a paddle board this time. Fighting to keep my balance between the waves, I played captain for a while. The view you get from the middle of a board, in the middle of the bay, in the middle of the ocean, in the middle of nowhere. I had the feeling for a minute to be very strong, standing proud on my board. I lied down there for a while, staring at the sky, floating. And I pictured myself from above; tiny sailor on the surface of the planet. And I was at peace. Because everything matters. The captain and the cabin boy; the splendid ray and the tiny cleaning fish; the swing on top of the mountain and the tanning spot on the (kind of) flat rock half way in the ocean; the chicken running free and the mango in the tree… really, everything matters. You just have to come to peace with who you are, and to acknowledge your strength so you can start taking actions and responsibilities in the world we live in. Any kind of world, any kind of cultures: pick one you like, on land or underwater; north or south, warm or cold. Pick one, take care of it, be a part of it and grow together.

Every things and every lives matter. The day we come to peace with this statement, Life for sure can only be better.

tERRORism

tERRORism

As I am hanging with a view on the Golf of Thailand, where nature shows its wonders straightforward, I wonder:  what is wrong with the human race?

The need of dominating took over all other needs. We lost focus, stopped thinking about being and breathing; and we concentrate our energies onto having and controlling. We want to control time, space and everything in between. We cannot accept to be a part of a whole; we want to have it all, to be it all. We focus our energies on the outside world and everything that is material; and therefore forget how to look at ourselves, resulting in losing our inner peace, and pace.

Our definitions have gone wrong. Being should have nothing to do with possessions. Power nothing with violence. Leadership nothing with domination. But it has become this way. As much as I do not want to lose faith in humanity, I have to see and witness the awful truth.

Violence and power conquest have brought the worst into human beings.

The torture techniques invented by humans to peel, drown, torn…other humans are one the many proofs that we have turned our backs to our instincts. We do not kill to survive but to dominate, to force our beliefs onto others, to shut down ideas and revolutions. We use our forces against our nature.

There are so many fatal errors in our system. Error in the definition of heroism; error in the use of nature, lands and resources; error in the definition of living together; error in the use of leadership…

It is about time to take responsibility, to stop blindingly losing ourselves to a society that does not serve our needs, to step up and make up something new. Be brave and let go of everything you know. Find your balance again. We know nothing, only what we have been taught. And that is not the truth; for there is no universal truth. Let go of the power, focus on yourself, equilibrate and be at peace with the world around you.

It is too easy to point fingers, and too painful to cry our dead. To the question ‘’when will it stop?’’, I want to answer ‘’when you will start looking at yourself and take actions’’. In every daily act of kindness, in every opening heart step towards others you take, in every selfless act you make: there is the change you and we need. No one else is going to save you but yourself; it all starts within you, within all of us.

We will not save the world as we know it, but we might give it a good chance for the coming generations. It is not only for yourself that you need to take the time to change, it is for the infinity of the world. We lost balance, and we should fight to gain it back.

It is sometimes impossible to see all of this, especially when we find ourselves stuck in the unbalanced life our society has created. It is easier for me to see, to feel and to believe in; because I took a step back and am now looking at my life from a distance, from a totally different perspective. It is all about balance, adaptation and acceptation. We are living in a world that changes so fast, we have to accept and adapt if we do not want to lose ourselves in this spinning energy.

We have to breathe, together. We need to stay united, first with ourselves – balancing with our own energies and the ones of the world around – and then with each other. All others, as different from us as they might be. Because this is the world we live in now: it is about time to let go of the fears. Then, the terrorism will have no reason left to be. And the error might get fixed.

It is going to take time, ages. But we have the time. For our children, and theirs. We have to take the time now to fix the error; otherwise they will suffer from it even more.

Re define.

Travels are not relaxing: it is about discovering, accepting, adapting, learning. Travels had me thinking, feeling, and living more intensively than ever before. It is a constant exercise, an experience which has an impact on both the moment your live them and on the future moments it will have an influence on. It has been good but exhausting, and I am now happy to be on holidays.

I was waiting for the boat today, and had to kill 4 hours on an empty pier. I took a long chair, sat in it, closed my eyes and let the sea rock me to sleep. I only had about 4 hours sleep last night, after all. I woke up 3 hours later and could remember clearly what I was dreaming about. Since I have been gone, this was one of my best sleeps. Downside is I look like a lobster. I will fit in the environment when I will go snorkeling tomorrow. Camouflage.

There is always more than you think to life. Of all places and times, I had an impromptu reunion yesterday with my Australian cousin In Bangkok. We simply happened to be at the same place, at the same time. I spent the night at her hotel: after months living in basic comfort in hostel and guesthouses, I truly enjoyed a big comfy bed, an amazing shower, the airco, the conditioning shampoo… but above all, a familiar face to say goodnight and good morning to.

It is wonderful to travel alone: I open up wider and I become wiser. My pace is in perfect balance with my needs, feels and desires. But some views, moments, flavors or instants… they lose a bit of their magic when your eyes and taste buds only are here to witness. I am running out of words to explain what I see, how I feel, what I learn and how it impacts my life. I sometimes wish my better half would be next to me: tasting the salt of the ocean with me, feeling that breeze cooling down the sunburns, admiring that sunset and trying to contain with me that running nose while eating the too spicy papaya salad. Now I can tell I know how it feels to miss someone. Some two or three sometimes too.

Travels take you further than the destination. The travel does not stop, it creates something in you that will feed your inner fire and follow you for ever. You start travelling the moment you lose yourself to something bigger, whatever it might be. Your job as a traveler is to adapt, so you can live the experience to the fullest, while forgetting the rules of the nest you come from, and live by new ones; over and over again.

I walked for miles, I lived for real, I learned how to forget everything I knew, I got lost to find my way.

To me, being on holidays is something different. I am now in Southern Thailand, where I will stay until I fly back to Europe. I live in a bamboo hut; with a hammock on the balcony, from where I can see the crystal clear sea. I have my own bathroom, which means I do not have to pack my stuff each time I want a shower. I cannot explain the happiness of having shelves of my own.

I am reconsidering all my definition of comfort, luxury, happiness…  Comfort is a shelf in an outdoor bathroom; luxury is a mosquito net on top of a bed, in a hut open to wildlife; happiness is tasting the salt in the wind blowing in my face.  Last week I would have defined comfort as a fan – even a broken one; luxury as bottled water, happiness as a refreshing stream in the middle of the jungle. Back home, comfort was having a car; luxury was anything decadent, indecent; happiness only defined by possession.

I ran, maybe away from things I did not want to fight any longer; I got dizzy from drowning into different worlds; I found peace and comfort in things I did not know they existed; I trusted people; I let it all happen to me. And the best part is, this is just the beginning.

I can now enjoy my holidays for I am a traveler. I can see why I have done this, and I got rid of the guilt. Of the fears too; the ones of travelling and the ones of coming back. I am not going to pretend I am fearless, that would be a lie; but I trust myself and the universe. I do not want to waste any time nor space; so I am giving more power to my feelings and instincts; and a little bit less to my conditioned reason.  Being true to myself will not make me any less wise.

 

High!

There are not even that many steps to access the top of the Mount Phou Si; but the heat is making everything challenging. Especially after this royal breakfast that followed yoga.

It all started well, with a few sun salutations, good stretching and peace of mind. I lost it while holding the breakfast menu in my hands. Homemade yogurt, fresh fruits, homemade peanut butter, toasted baguette, smoothie with coconut milk… Already before 10 am, my body was screaming gratitude. That’s was until we started climbing to the top. I have been in Asia for a few weeks now, but still I do not get used to (the) heat. But I stopped caring about my appearance and my smell – the smell of my backpack to be more accurate. At this stage, I believe it qualifies as efficient contraceptive method.

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I am missing my dresses and heels, especially my high black boots. I miss feeling cold and nesting into my favorite scarf. It feels good to live in shorts, to walk bare feet in the mud and to breathe the pure air of the rain forest. But it certainly does not help me growing a feminine feeling. Despite the occasional homesickness, and the few moments I miss everyone; I think the biggest challenge for me was and still is the flexibility on hygiene. I just forgot about laundry, clothes and body are washed at the same time, with the same baby soap, in the shower where I always find company – ants, spiders, mosquitos big as a fist … Crumbs, not only of bread I am afraid, find shelter between my toes; fresh sheets have become a luxury, and cockroaches do not make me scream anymore.

The dirt I certainly did not mind on me today was the one I got from cuddling with puppies after zip-lining in the jungle. The owner, a French guy who grew up 10 kilometers away from my hometown probably went to the same college as me. Small world. When I moved to Holland, he moved to Laos and started a business of tree climbing adventure. Today he rules a beautiful park, 30 minutes cruise away from the center of Luang Prabang.

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After about 1 hour of flying from one tree to another, I touched ground to meet two playful puppies. They were even sweeter than the iced cappuccino I sipped between two snuggles. Just as my poor skin in the sun, my heart was melting.

I spend my day mopping my front head, and I feel extremely graceful. Luckily it stops after sunset. The story telling I went to last night was in a tiny and – much appreciated – air-conditioned theater. I learned the story of the Phou Si, where I was dripping earlier today. Every mountain, rock or river here has a meaning; and I found it fascinating to discover the Lao legends this way.

Phou Si, literally Mountain Si – which was named after the Queen Si, has a story involving mushrooms greed, monkey ears and power abuse. The Queen Si woke up one morning with a furious envy for mushrooms; but not any kind. Because she did not want to upset the spirits, she could not name the mushrooms she was dying for. It was indeed bad omen to name and eat Monkey ears. So she sent one of her disciple to Sri Lanka, with no other indication that ‘’Bring me back mountain mushrooms’’ Despite numerous attempts, the brave man never brought back the right kind of mushrooms. He flew over and over again to Sri Lanka, always bringing back another kind of mushrooms … but he would always fail to please Queen Si. The next time he flew, he decided to come back with the mountain itself, placed in right in front of the palace and invited to Queen to go and pick up for herself her coveted delicacy. Since that time, the mount has always never been moved from the doorstep of the Palace.

Another legend we were told yesterday surprisingly casted Dragons – whose rage created both the Chao Phraya in Bangkok and the Mekong in Laos; a dad who abandoned his 12 daughters after he could not support them anymore – a Lao version of Tom Thumb where the daughters were found by a giant – whose castle has a lot in common with Bluebeard; a hidden son who happened to be the unique worthy successor of the kingdom and a kept secret princess with whom he will desperately fall in love.  This love was not meant to be, and it ended up in a lot of pain for both lovers. Long and complicated story short: the same game of power and hate which unexpectedly united their hearts years ago eventually separated them years after. They both died of sadness. The spirits were willing to make up for the purest love ever seen that human greed destroyed, so they turned the two bodies into mountains. These two highest peaks you can see by the side of the Mekong are the two lovers, united for eternity.

After an afternoon playing monkey in the jungle, it was so relaxing to be told stories. The two Australian sisters sitting next to me were just as impressed as me, and as we walked out of the tiny theater, the sky was reflecting the stars in our eyes. Luang Prabang is animated by spirits; the place is both magnetic and peaceful. As I walked back to the guesthouse, I crossed once again the many handcrafts stand of the adorable night market. And I went to bed with my mouth still full of the perfect taste of the Lao version of the Dutch poffertjes. Dreams are made of sweets.

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I woke up before the sun, to take part to the Alms giving ceremony. As the sun rises, monks in their bright orange clad walk past the streets, accepting alms from locals and tourists. They walk in line, in rhythm, in harmony. Their peace and dedication was a humbling experience.

I just felt sorry that more people would experience the ceremony as a selfie taking situation, more than for what it really is: a moment of respectful sharing. We do not all travel for the same reasons, and that is all right; as long as respect is shown to the places and traditions we are invited into. Despite our differences, I do believe we all seek for the same at the end of the day. Being free to believe, practice, and be as we wish; without offending either being judged for it. We may not be animated by the same spirits, ideas or dreams; but we all have some and there should never be such a thing as judging or ranking them. We all are equals, in every little things; especially the ones making us different. Observing and learning will always be more constructive than arbitrating and dominating.

In the morning lights, I walked my opening heart and eyes along the Mekong for an hour and enjoyed this precious and quiet time before the city fully awakes and gets all of us into its full swing.

 

 

Faith of Laos

At first, it itches. But eventually you get used to it. Trekking in the jungle.

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Especially when you find yourself facing a bunch of kids playing in the dirt or jumping in the opaque Mekong in their birthday suits. It gives you perspective. Not only because the scenery is a masterpiece of lights meeting shadows, peaks drawing the skyline, and greens highlighting the red dirt, grey clouds and blue pieces of sky. It gives you perspective because you needed to be so far from home to appreciate everything you always took for granted.

If you are born in one of the lost villages on the other side of the river, you will not be given a chance to grow up anywhere else. Every village does have a primary school, and both girls and boys are accepted on their benches; but you need to pay for education. How do you afford school when you do not even have running water or electricity? Few tour offices – including the one I used for this trekking day- do offer the option to villages families to help them rebuild their houses so they can be ‘’homestay’’ for hiking farang. But the income only is guaranteed on the high season and the investment is too big for many families, as the potential income would cover the cost on a too slow pace. Long story short : you are born poor, you remain poor.

Kids are playing, as they do all over the world. They have enough with a wooden plank and an empty plastic bottle. They look after each other; they run, make fake tattoos, laugh and cry. They are just like any other kid, born on this planet. Only they will not have a chance for education, they have no other option than being happy in this red mud, in this skin burning sun.

The smiles here are the most genuine I have seen so far. There is nothing to be sold, only time and attention to be given. And despite the fact that everything seems to be between us, the villagers smile at you. Carrying wood for the week on her bended back, this mom sings from 1 to 10 in English to her two young kids. The wife of the teacher rocks her baby to sleep in the shadow of the unique shop. This dad is cleaning up his toddler with a stick, to rub the dirt off.

Dogs are skinny, pigs are tiny, chicken are many. They all share the playground, looking for shadow under houses inside of which the tired faces of Laos are finding some rest. And as we walk by, they smile and cheer ‘’Farang! Farang!’’

I will never stop counting my blessings; starting with my freedom which really takes all its dimension in the options I have and that I can unlimitedly take.

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The morning market was in full swing when we drove away from Luang Prabang. A tiny boat took us to the side we would soon explore, after an obligatory stop by the elephant camp. I did not want to do anything with elephants here – riding, feeding, washing – as I cannot stand the fact that they are chained and potentially mistreated. The place we walk through actually was the end of the riding parcours, and soon a group of about 6 elephants and their allocated tourists walked through the river to join us on this side. Two babies were caged, ‘’only a few hours a day’’ according to the manager. The company knows this place is the start of the trek and they ‘’just want to give the opportunity to hikkers’’ to see and feed the babies. I am being explained that these cages are meant to secure both the animals and the people, but I have a hard time being convinced that this is the right way to do it. Since when do we need to cage what we want to protect? When did protect and possess became the same thing in people’s mind? It is hard for me to judge if the playfulness of the babies is genuine happiness, education or fear of a sentence. Either way, it does not seem right; but again this is a problem we created.

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The rest of the trek was one huge green bath; pigmented with red roads and adorable purple flowers. From the rice fields to the rain forest, we walked for about 6 hours. When our guide Lue – second boy out of 23 kids – told us in his best French ‘’ca va monter’’ he was not lying. My toes were holding on into my shoes, soaking wet after we crossed a few streams. On top of one of the world’s roof, we shared our lunch with one very hungry and soft dog. The way down was just as spectacular, and I stopped counting the long legs spiders as my own sweat started burning my eyes.

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As we were about to embark our yellow boat again, we skipped a few stones on the river with the kids bathing in the river. They push our boat back into the stream and cheered us goodbye, until the courant took us away from their sight.

We cruised down to a waterfall, where I will go back tomorrow for some zip-line… The rain season has started, and the waterfall is pretty again. There is another cascade, on the opposite direction, which I hear is much more impressive. As soon as I am back – and showered – , we organize with a group of Belgian-Dutchies I met in town 2 nights ago to go visit the waterfall the morning after.

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After a morning yoga session – with a view on the Mekong – and some rough negotiation with the tuktuk driver, we make it to the waterfall park. The way up is challenging, but it has not been raining for a few hours so we are lucky the ground is not too slippery. Panting and dripping, we make it to the top and the view is rewarding. The power of the water is impressive, just as the flourishing nature all around. Trees grew strong together, building a jungle of massive yet comforting heights. We stayed there for a while, contemplating the immensity and refreshing our sour feet in the water. We found another paradise.

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This was the feeling prior descending. Except for the wooden stairs built on the side of the water stream, the way down was one big slippery drama. I owe my muddy shorts to voluntary slides and to an unplanned but graceful fall – I bounced on my cheeks, it actually was fun. Safe, sound, and exhausted, we all went for a refreshing bath at the waterfall feet; in a pool inhabited by biting fish, blood suckers and happy hikers.

Not that it was needed, but we ended up the day on a high note. Dinner in the oldest family owned restaurant of Luang Prabang – the soups they have is perfectly seasoned, with hot ginger and juicy shrimps – followed by a walk along the river. Laos sure knows how to turn off the lights…

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Last flavor of the day was a perfect mango sticky rice, served in a library screening movies every night. Looking at their breakfast menu, we all agree to meet up here after our morning yoga session. I mean, they have homemade peanut butter so… no need to say more.