Lifestyle, Personal, spirituality, Stories, travel

Journey Over Land and Sea

It’s not enough to wish, dream, hope. Even children know this. We must set sail into the sea of uncertainty. We must meet fear face-to-face. We must take our dreams as maps for a greater journey. Dreams, to come true, need a good story. So go live one.

Vironika Tugaleva

And so it begins. My Journey across 7 states and 21 towns in India and 2 cities in Nepal via auto and cycle rickshaw, plane, train, bus, taxi, motorbike, elephant and toy train.

To begin our 11- flight itinerary we had an overnight stop over in Sydney before our connecting flight to Delhi via Melbourne the next morning. I had never been to Sydney so I was excited to explore the city, even though I’m not much of a city person.

After getting lost in the airport, and mucking around for what seemed like hours, mum and I finally managed to find a taxi to take us to our hotel. I wasn’t expecting much as I had booked the cheapest room I could find. I figured we weren’t going to spend much time there and only needed a bed to sleep in. Sure enough, the hotel was tucked behind a chain of fast food outlets and in a dubious part of Sydney.

Our room was small and dingy and the bathroom grotty. The bright fluorescent light was blinding and the beds were uncomfortable. I thought to myself, I better harden up, this is nothing compared to what I might stay in, in India.

Buying a travel card was our saving grace, which entitled us to unlimited train and bus travel for the day.

Perfect Sydney with its clear blue skies, polished streets and where everyone dressed and looked the same. I felt like doing something crazy to break the Sydney-ite trance but I opted to do yoga on a grassy verge instead. I don’t usually like making a spectacle of myself but the robotic-like ‘normalness’ of a flashy city was getting to me. Perhaps I’d spent too long in my van!

We visited the usual touristic spots of Bondi, Manly and Circular Quay but of all Sydney’s grandeur I was unimpressed. The obnoxious airport staff, rude bus driver and arrogant waiters had left a sour taste in my mouth and I was glad to be leaving the next day. The only friendly person I encountered was the manager of our faulty towers hotel, an unassuming, kind and helpful man from Nepal.

He told me I would love his country but I didn’t quite believe him at the time.

I wore my new Birkenstock look-a-likes that day. I thought I’d break them in before all the walking I’d end up doing around India, little did I realise the sandals were going to cause me a lot of problems later on.

After a full day of walking my feet began to hurt and I realised, in my frantic rush to buy sandals on my last day in Auckland, I had bought one size too small and I was developing blisters on my heels. So I took them off and walked barefoot through Sydney (which probably didn’t help my Sydney experience from all the strange stares I got) until I found a cheap pair of Haviana knock offs, which would later be the footwear I used to walk through the mountains of Nepal.

Yep, I ended up climbing mountains and scaling steep hillsides in a pair of jandals.

After our whirlwind trip in Sydney we awoke in the dark to catch our early morning flight. I was finally on my way to India. A place that both scared and intrigued me.

The 12-hour flight went smoothly and we touched down in Delhi in the evening.

As soon as we walked out of the airport we were greeted by hundreds of taxi drivers all competing with each other to drive us to our destination. Luckily, we had pre arranged a taxi through our hotel to pick us up and when we found our driver they all left us alone.

It had been raining and the air was damp and humid, but not as hot as I was expecting and there was a different smell in the air but I couldn’t quite make out what it was.

The drive to the hotel was my first taste of India and an eye-opening experience to say the least. The chaotic streets were pure madness and there didn’t appear to be any road rules. Overloaded rickshaws and up to five people sandwiched together on motorbikes with no helmets crowded the streets. Cars drove in between lanes and down opposite sides of the roads and the streets were filled with skinny dogs that were rummaging around for food amongst the rubbish that was littered everywhere. People were living in makeshift tents and huts on the sides of the road, street vendors were selling samosas, chai and all sorts of fly ridden food from carts and the sound of beeping horns was deafening.

35 minutes later, we finally arrived at our hotel, which was supposed to be located at the airport and as I walked to the front desk my heart sunk.

The reception area was down in a dark, flooded underground basement. After we checked in, and expecting the worst, we caught the lift up 3 floors to find a beautiful communal lounge area and our room.

I was pleasantly surprised.

Our room was huge, spotlessly clean and beautifully decorated with Indian art and furnishings, fresh linen and a comfortable king size bed.

Without eating and feeling rather jet lagged, we all climbed into the crisp white sheets and set our alarm for our early morning flight to Goa.

I was nervously excited to begin my yoga journey, as yoga was what had brought me to India in the first place and It felt like I had a lot riding on this trip. Six months earlier I had sold all my possessions and I was living in a van in order to follow this foreign path.

Realising the enormous amount of sacrifices I had made, I suddenly had all theses questions running around in my head. Would I be physically capable of undergoing this rigorous style of yoga training? Was I good enough at yoga? Would I make a good yoga teacher? I had pretty much changed every aspect of my life to follow my heart and there was no turning back now, failing wasn’t an option.

After a few hours sleep, we arrived in Goa via a brief stop in Mumbai. It was hot, very hot, and we were greeted by zillions of taxi drivers all vying for our attention and this time we hadn’t pre-booked a taxi.

Luckily we found a pre paid taxi booth around the corner and two men who carried our bags escorted us. Once at the taxi I realised that one of the men who carried our bags was not our taxi driver but a tout who wanted money for ‘helping’ us. We paid him a few rupees and I was to quickly learn that for tourists, nothing in India was for free, even friendship.

The drive to the yoga village took us South to Patnem Beach. A quieter, more laid back part of Goa and one of the most beautiful beaches on the coastline. I enjoyed soaking up the sights of my new environment during the taxi ride and the traffic was as crazy as ever.

After seeing a motorbike accident on our way, every time our racing car taxi driver passed a vehicle slower than him, I prayed we’d make it there in one piece.

An hour and a half later the taxi pulled up outside Kranti Yoga Village in the rip-roaring heat and I struggled getting my 18-kilo pack from the boot and onto my back. I was glad that this would be the last time in a while that I would need to carry it. Perhaps mum was right, maybe I did pack too much.

I walked up the sandy path in anticipation to see what lay hidden behind the gates.

I was finally here. This place was going to be my home for the next month.

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