Magic Travel – Warburton Victoria – a spiritual home

  DAY 32 TO 42 – Warburton Victoria

Arriving in Melbourne – I had to go straight to a train to get me in the direction of Warburton – it was still going to be a 3-hour journey and it was already the end of the afternoon. It is good to explain why I was going to Warburton. A few years ago, Keith stayed in my Airbnb in Glastonbury and he told me about Warburton where he was living. He explained that it had some similar energy like Glastonbury with people working with spirituality and awareness. I got a good feeling at that moment and I told him that if I would ever go to Australia, I would certainly try to visit there. When I started planning my journey, I had contact with Jessica who was living in Australia and she told me she was at that moment staying in Warburton. No coincidence, and she even knew Keith, small world. She confirmed that it was a spiritual place with beautiful nature, so I asked her to help me find a place to stay for about 10 days. I had met Jess years ago in Glastonbury where she was living at the time. She is funny, witty and sweet – and we had kept in contact over the years. She came through for me, as she is a great networker, and found me a house for house sitting right in Warburton, owned by Nicole who was going to be away for that period. Now I am a big believer in synergy and synchronicity so it all pointed to me actually being there. Now I was on my way and I was looking forward to some down time and connecting with likeminded.

During my train ride I had Jess on the phone, who herself was house/dog sitting in Warburton. She was intending to meet up with me and show me the house. It all went a bit different – as the dog ran away and she had to go find it and I got to the house myself. It was all good – I arrived in a very comfortable beautiful house with green all around. My deluxe living that had started at the beginning of my journey was continuing and I was very grateful to Nicole for allowing a total stranger in her house. The next day I met up with Jess in town to have some coffee and it was like I had seen her only yesterday. Chatting and catching up – it was so nice to see her again. The town itself is small but so charming with forest, a river running through the centre and a lovely street with shops and cafes. I knew I was going to love my stay here. There was one new age shop in town which I visited that morning and I got to chat to a woman who worked there and who had never heard of Glastonbury or even Avalon. But she got Goosebumps when I talked about it and then her colleague showed her a book he had about Glastonbury. I like to talk about Glastonbury and Avalon – it is a special place where we do things a bit different than in the rest of the world. And I like to connect with places that also have a more holistic approach to life.

The second evening I was staying in the house, I looked into the eyes of a mother deer who was in the garden with her baby Bambi. This was a good sign and it felt like a welcome of the animal world. I did not see them again after. New year’s evening was coming up and I asked Jess what the plans were. She was considering going to a garden party of some of her friends and after I also met them one morning, it was decided that we would join that party. It was hosted at the house of Kathy and her husband Piggy – who lived in the forest. They were going to do a fire ceremony called  Agnihotra – which is done at sunrise and at sunset to bring in good fortune –(for more information: http://www.halepule.com/agnihotra.html). This ceremony was done at sunset in their garden and it felt nice, but then I always like ceremonies. Afterwards we gathered in the garden around a fire with about 10-12 people and waited for the new year to arrive. There were drinks and snacks and lots of laughter because of the decorations in the garden around us set up by Pete: green alien balloons with lights inside and portals made out of strings of lights. I like it when people can make fun of a topic which they are actually very serious about normally. It was a relaxed and chilled evening and we toasted the new year and hugged: 2018 had started in a very mellow way and I hoped that this was going to the theme and energy for 2018.

 

The next day, 1 January 2018, the same group invited me for another fire ceremony near the redwood forest to celebrate the full moon. We sat underneath a majestic oak tree and did the ceremony. I closed the ceremony with a song standing in a circle. The energy was magical and the Red Wood Forest was pretty special – as soon as you walked in, you could feel like you were entering another world. 2018 had indeed begun in a magical way. I decided to organise an Avalon talk and meditation as I felt that the people in Warburton were open to connecting to the Avalon energy. I asked Jess to help me and promote in her network which she did. I also asked her to help me promote my readings. Meanwhile it was predicted that we would have a very warm day in Warburton, about 40 degrees Celsius, so we decided to organise the talk the day after in the garden of a small community space near the river. We had no idea how many people to expect but I just let that go and just enjoyed myself with some Warburton life and walks. Jess had come to stay in the house with me and it was nice to hang out and chat.

On one of the days my friend Keith had promised to take us up Mount Donna Buang – a mountain which was considered sacred by the Aborigines and was connected energetically with Ayers Rock – Uluru, the third chakra of the world symbolising the Self – energy. There is a spring up there which seems to have pure and healing water. We also did a walk over the Rainforest Gallery – a built platform walkway to see the rainforest from nearby, which was very impressive. Then he left us at the start of a walk to the La La Falls, great name by the way. It was indeed a lovely waterfall, and I like waterfalls, so we just sat there and relaxed, listening to sounds of the water, the trees and the birds. After the walk, Jess suggested to visit her friends Sioux house which was nearby – Sioux is an artist and her house is like a big piece of art. I was very curious and luckily she was home, so we set off to see the house of magic. Sioux works not only as a painter, but she also makes sculptures and made her house into one big sculpture with beautiful round forms. I felt like I was in fairy land – and I wondered why we on earth do we live in these boring not inspirational concrete homes, when you could be living in an art work. Sioux had also done some enchanting Goddess paintings and I could see her easily in Glastonbury, maybe showing her work at the Goddess Conference.

The next day was such a hot day, it was about 40 degrees Celsius and everybody was just sitting in the stream down the hill, cooling off. I also went there with Aurore, who I had met 2 days before at a café in town. We connected and as she was French speaking, I got a chance to practice my French and she was happy, because she had not spoken French in a long time. Aurore is from Guadeloupe, a Caribbean island where people speak French. She was travelling around New Zealand and was staying for some weeks in Warburton. She asked if I knew a healer and I offered my services and in exchange she offered a massage. I feel that exchanging services is the way of the future as we all have something to offer. I survived the heat, though I did experience a headache, but then it cooled off and the next day things were better.

This was the day of my talk and I did feel some excitement and I looked forward to it, I had prepared a little slide show with pictures of Glastonbury so people who had never been there at least got an idea of the sacred sites I was talking about. The talk started at 4 pm and Jess and I prepared the small garden space where we placed chairs around a tree and set up a little altar table. We had no idea how many people were going to come and frankly that was ok. But in the end, we had about 24 people showing up and during the talk I felt that they were open to the message of Avalon: the unconditional love. I did a guided meditation and brought them into Avalon and afterwards everybody seemed to be feeling very relaxed and peaceful: the talk and meditation were a success and I felt delighted. A few people asked for a tarot reading for the next day and so that was all arranged. I felt I had done something useful and hopefully inspired some people on the way.

The day after the readings, it was time to leave so I was taken to the train station to go to Melbourne. Pete was kind enough to take me there in exchange for a tarot reading and we talked about his plans for a nature school/community which sounded interesting. I hope he will manifest this. In Melbourne I stored my suitcase and did some walking around the city, but I was not too impressed by this place, but then I am not into cities that much anymore nowadays. I had a late evening flight to Christchurch in New Zealand and I felt a bit sad leaving Australia. I really enjoyed this country and its people, and I was certain that I will be back there to visit again.

 

 

 

 

Magic Travel – Yoga Retreat

Day 26 to 31 – Yoga Retreat at the Krishna Centre

I took the car back to Brisbane airport and travelled to the city centre where I had a few hours to wait for the bus that would take me in the direction of my destination near Byron Bay, a place called Murwimballah, I hope I spell it correctly. Lots of the names here have an Aboriginal origin and are sometimes difficult to pronounce. I do like them though, it gives something ethnical. Brisbane centre is not very attractive, lots of high modern looking buildings, so not much character. I did later find out that there is an older centre, but I never went there. I was trying to store my suitcase but due to terrorism scares they have removed most storage lockers in the city. That left me quite frustrated, one because of these so-called terrorists, I call them desperate men, spoiling it for everybody else. Two, because the city of Brisbane needs to think of a solution for tourists coming into their city: you can not expect them to carry their heavy suitcases while trying to enjoy the sights. Luckily, I found the Queensland Museum who were very kind to store my suitcase while I was going around the museum, which is quite nice showing the Australian animals, flora and fauna.

After this short relief I went to the bus station and got on the bus. The journey would take about 2.5 hours and also there was a 1-hour time difference, as we would be going into New South Wales where it was 1 hour later then in Queensland. The bus went passed a place called Surfers Paradise, when we stopped there I was appalled: this was no paradise with big tall apartment buildings and very touristy. I assume that the beach and sea there was probably the paradise they were talking about, but not the town. Anyway, I arrived at my destination and waited for my transfer which I had arranged the previous day with the Krishna Centre. After half an hour waiting, I decided to try and see if I could get a taxi because it seems they had forgotten about me. I had tried to contact them, but nobody picked up the phone. I did not panic, I knew I would get there one way or the other, but the prospect to be left in this very small town was not great. Just when I was about to call a taxi, somebody from the Krishna centre called me back. ‘Hello, I am returning your call, how can I help?’. ‘Well’, I said ‘I am still waiting for your transfer’. It was a bit quiet and then she apologised deeply and told me to wait there, somebody would soon show up. I laughed, it was funny in a way: I started my retreat forgotten…was this symbolic for something? A car showed up after 10 minutes and there was Michael, a teacher, and 3 young women in the back of the car who had just finished their yoga teacher training. I was taken to the centre and was told I did not have to pay the transfer fee, so that was good. I was welcomed by Barat, who showed me my room with bunk bed and then took me straight up to the temple which was up the hill. It was time for dinner and we got to see the Hare Krishna temple. There was a good atmosphere – people were sitting on the floor waiting to be served the delicious Vedic food by the volunteers who were coming around with big red buckets full of Dahl and other good food.

After dinner I walked down the hill and went back to my room, where I met my room mate Jenna who is originally from Scotland and has been living in Australia for a few years. We connected well and fortunately agreed easily on who was sleeping in the top bed and who in the bottom bed (me), as we had a bunk bed to share. The room we were in was made in a container which had in total 3 rooms. It was quite comfortable with a fan on the ceiling and some seats outside. The landscape the centre is in, is simply stunning: hills and luscious green, palm trees and flowers; a genuine paradise. In total 100 hectares I was told. They have a community with some houses and farms where they have cows, which are revered as holy. They only started the retreat part with yoga and accommodation three years ago and they are building fast to grow as a retreat centre. The yoga hall, accommodation, showers etc are down in the valley and the temple is a steep walk of 10 minutes up a hill. There is a very different energy in both places. The temple area up the hill is very Hare Krishna, so I feel I need to respect that and hold back in some of the things I would normally say or do. The Yoga hall area is more relaxed – this is where all visitors, volunteers and staff come together and connect. There is an openness and kindness to everybody and it is easy to meet people and talk to each other. The yoga is sometimes intense but really feels good, once you get more into it. After a week of Yoga I felt so much better and together with the vegetarian food – I felt clear in the head and physically fit. I would love to keep that feeling going.

 

 

Christmas Day was unlike any Christmas celebrations I had done before – it did not feel like Christmas at all with all that heat. Christmas and cold go together for me. On the day itself we went with a big group of people to a special place on Mount Warning, an old Aboriginal sacred place, to have a picnic and a swim. It was a stunning place with rocks and waterholes, like from a picture book. There must have been more than 40 people and we all got along and mingled wonderfully. It was certainly one of the most relaxed Christmas celebrations I had ever done. I was missing my family though and having them there would have been perfect. I sincerely hope I can one day bring my children to this place and other places in Australia that I had been. They would really like it.

I met wonderful people at the centre and my neighbours, a couple from Brazil, Marcello and Michelle, were a good example of that. They were so lovely and open, we got on well. They took part in a small Summer Solstice ceremony that I did with a few people and that was very special. We also escaped together to get into town and get a drink and some different food, lovely as the food is at the Krishna centre, I do like a change. During dinner I was telling them about where I would go next and that I was trying to find some cheap accommodation near Byron Bay but because it was the holiday season, that was turning out to be a bit difficult. My next flight was going to be from Brisbane to Melbourne, so I had 3 nights to spent before taking off. The other idea was to stay a few extra nights at the centre, but they seemed to be fully booked so that was not an option. Then Marcello suggested to come with them in the car to Sydney – stay with them for a few nights and book a cheap flight to Melbourne from there. That was a brilliant idea which actually saved me money and I would be in the company of some lovely people, so that was a no brainer. The last day before we left, there was a tropical storm and I had just arrived at the temple area – standing in an open enclosure were we usually were served our meal. I had returned from a Vedic astrology session and it was an interesting one. The astrologer, a powerful woman (also blues singer by the way) kind of looked at me after 30 minutes into the session giving me the feeling that the session was over. My charts were one of the luckiest ones she had ever seen, she told me, and I could see in her eyes the question: why are you here? I realized there and then that I have been luck most of my life with no major dramas so far and that I have nothing to complaint about. With that realisation I decided to stop complaining and longing for things I do not have, instead focus on the things and people in my life which I do have. I am blessed.

I have never seen a tropical rainstorm and it was quite a force of Mother Nature to witness. Within minutes we were soaked and finally we ran into the temple where we could be dry. A priest was just doing some teaching with his students and more and more people started to come in to hide from the storm. The priest commented that the temple had never been this full and he smiled, as did we. They were good at improvising because it was decided to serve the food in the temple and so it was organized. Blessed food in a blessed surrounding, what more can we ask for. That evening I started packing my suitcase and said good bye to some people. All of the people coming to the centre have a story and I got to hear some of them, for which I am grateful. Leonie shared that she had healed herself from Lyme disease and 1 year ago she could hardly walk. She aimed to write a book and share her knowledge and path, so others can hopefully be inspired. Ronja was there to do a yoga teacher training and brought more feminine energy in the Krishna centre, being the earth woman that she is. Hanan who’s family is from Somalia lives in Australia and is so beautiful. Sophie had left her father in Belgium who she was very close to, but she needed to be independent. \Then there was an older guy who had kicked a severe alcohol problem and was now into yoga and health. I just love hearing them all – the stories – and I especially love the fact that there are so many young people nowadays traveling and trying to find alternative life styles.

 

This stay at the centre had been wonderful: I felt great physically, mentally and emotionally. The next morning, we left at 4.30 am and I said goodbye to me lovely room mate Jenna who I really was going to miss. We had to drive for at least 10 hours to get to Sydney – all done by wonderful Marcello with the necessary breaks on the way – which included another tropical rain shower. We arrived safely and fatigued, although I felt it all went quicker than I thought. The next day I ventured out into their neighborhood, they live in a suburb of Sydney, and got English breakfast products as I had promised them to prepare an English breakfast, no beans though. Michelle and Marcello told me that they had come to Australia about 4 years ago to learn English and to start a new life. The did not speak much English at the time and had nothing to begin with, so the start of their life was not easy but now they both have a good job, a nice house and their English is good. I admire them for making it work – it is not easy without family and friends. The next couple of days were relaxing and we went 1 day to a beach nearby in a national park. Then on the final day they took me to the airport and I left for Melbourne. I feel very grateful to both of them for their hospitality.

 

Magic Travel – Hinterland Sunshine and Gold Coast

Day 19 – 25 Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast Hinterland

I arrived after 9 pm into Brisbane airport and went to get my rental car – it was a bit of an expense but I decided it was worth it. Renting a car in Australia is not cheap – the rental price may seem reasonable but then they want a deposit of 4000 dollars, that is 2000 pounds, for any damages. I loathe this system, this is how they make money but of course not everybody has 4000 dollars in their account or on a credit card, like me, so you have to buy off the liability for about 39 dollars (20) pounds a day so the total becomes then pretty steep. Anyway, in advance I asked the universe to at least give me a GPS for free, that would be nice.  There were two women at the rental desk and one of them was very pleasant and chatty, asking me were I was going so I told her about my trip and she thought it was great. I think I must have been obvious about my money situation and how I was trying to make this journey work with a small budget. When I asked how to get to my hotel, she offered the GPS to me for free and I was very grateful. In the end it was a good thing to have, because I had to get to several destinations in that week.

The hotel, the Ibis budget hotel in Brisbane, was indeed what the name said ‘Budget’. Because I was arriving after 10 pm they left me instructions how to get I and into my room. That was fine of course, but when I was trying to carry my suitcase up the stairs to the 3rd story, this man came down and asked me who I was, crossed me off the list and let me carry on getting that suitcase up without offering any assistance. I shrugged it off and went to sleep – had a terrible breakfast in the morning – and left to find Mark’s house.

Although tucked away in nature, my GPS did manage to find it. The location was simply beautiful, surrounded by trees, where Koalas live and Walibi’s I heard later, and I felt peace and quiet resonating from the house. I did hear a little girls voice talking, so I proceeded to find her and her mother. Unfortunately I frightened them as they did not hear me coming and the girl said: ‘you scared us’ for which I apologised deeply. It was soon forgotten and I received a warm welcome. Now I was getting anxious to meet Mark after all these years, we must have been about 14 years old when we last saw each other. When we lived in the Netherlands, our parents were good friends and we always went out together to eat at places where they knew us, so it felt familiar. They were happy times. We lost contact when they moved away to Australia but there was always that connection that lingered through our lives, because it was in the beginning of this year that I suddenly thought of Mark and how he was doing. I checked Facebook to see if I could find him and I did…but then I opened a mailbox of Facebook that I had not opened in years, with messages of people who I had not befriended yet, and there was a message from Mark from exactly 2 years earlier. I felt so embarrassed that I had never replied and so I sent him a message with apologies and explaining what happened and that I was so glad he contacted me. It took a few days for him to reply but then he did and we exchanged our life stories on email. At that point I had no plans to go to Australia but the invitation was there from Mark – so when I did decide to do my journey I knew I had to visit him and his family and reconnect. So there it was, the moment of truth, and when he swooped in, we hugged and looked at each other like we could not believe it. Where did those 40 years go… To make a long story short – I had a lovely stay, we even did some music together one evening in the garden with an incredible sound system which gave me the opportunity to practice with my backing tracks. We also visited a animal park so I got to interact with Koalas and Kangaroos, which was very exciting. I think I was more excited than their 3-year-old daughter – who by the way is such a special character. The whole visit felt like I was with a long-lost family and when I left, I cried in the car, as there had been so much love. Luckily, they have promised to visit me in the UK, so I look forward to that.

Gold Coast

The next stretch of my journey was to bridge some days before I was going to head off to my yoga week near Byron Bay, so I booked an Airbnb last minute near the Gold coast but inland. Two reasons for picking this particular Airbnb: it had a pool and they were musicians. This is the trick with finding the right Airbnb, I always start looking at the price first of course, but then I try to see if the hosts are either artists, musicians or spiritual so we have something in common. I also prefer staying with women as they are usually a bit more in my kind of flow, but that is of course a very personal thing. When I arrived at the Airbnb at Jimbooba, love that name, I was met by Jane, who was immediately very welcoming and easy going. She seemed glad to have somebody new arriving as she was still recuperating from an operation and had to stay at home. She upgraded me to a very nice room, as the little nook, as they call it, I booked turned out to be a small alcove between the kitchen and living room separated only with curtains. To tell you the truth, I do not know if that would have been good for me as I like my privacy. Anyway, all good and I settled in. Alvin, her husband and the musician in question, was watching The Ashes, an important cricket tournament, on television and waved hello. Jane explained that he was a big-time cricket fan, which she said had probably to do with him being from the West Indies, Trinidad that is. She also informed me that he was professional steel drum musician and played everywhere. I had told her I was a jazz singer so she hoped we would have the time to play music together and we later did.      

They had a great pool and I decided to just relax the first day and so nothing, it had been an intensive trip in a way so far with lots of travelling and new impressions. In the morning I went to a small local market in the area and got to chat to Brenda, the local tarot reader, who was glad to talk to me as there were not many people about. People at normal local markets did not seem to be very open yet to tarot readings and such activities, but there were some spiritual festivals and markets around where people would come to. She had heard about Glastonbury and was very curious to hear more about this special place. We parted with a big hug, glad to have made that connection from one tarot reader to the other. That afternoon Jane’s friend Jude arrived and she was bubbly and told me that where she lived was not a very female friendly place being in cowboy cattle land. Her family owned a motel and a cattle farm, but they sounded like not the easiest bunch so she needed her break now and then just to recharge her batteries. She had recently started to play the piano again and was very happy having this outlet. We all got on really well and had a lovely dinner together, made by Jude, who loves cooking – another outlet. The next we all promised each other to play some music together and so that was that.

After a nice night of sleep, I went out to meet my friend Terri, who I had met just 2 months earlier at the EarthSpirit Centre where I work and who happened to live very nearby Jimbooba. She took me to Mount Tamborin – a ancient mountain where Aboriginals used to live for a long time. It was seen by them as a sacred site, so I was eager to see it. We went to visit a beautiful waterfall and when we entered the rainforest, it was like we entered a magical realm, the forest radiated something special. Spellbound we walked down to the Curtis waterfall, and it was like in a movie, so enchanting with a little pond in front of it. We just had to sit there and take it in. Nature just is amazing, so often we take it for granted, but when I see places like that it just reminds me how grateful we need to be for what Mother Nature has given us. After the waterfall we decided to do a walk and we found a special place to do a Summer Solstice ritual – to get into the spirit of this new festival. We had found this little pathway and when we returned to the main path, we saw bats hanging from the palm trees high up. They were active and sometimes one would fly off, I was mesmerized as they were such wonderful creatures and I realised that they are a symbol of transformation which right after our ritual seemed like a good omen. And later we encountered two big black lizards on our path, another omen of transformation. We ended later to look at some scenic views from Mount Tamborin – at a special place St Bernard, a Swiss chalet like hotel where they have two big St Bernard dogs. Ooo, but that view, so stunning, it was from a dream. I was very grateful to Terri for showing me those sights, that is what so wonderful to connect with local people.

When I got back, Jude, Alvin and myself geared up for our jam session in Alvin’s studio shed. Jude and I started with some Amy Winehouse and then Alvin joined us and played the steel drum. He is a fantastic musician, as he knows how to play all kinds of music we started on Summertime and after a few tries, it sounded actually pretty good. But the more important thing was that we connected and had fun. After that performance I got ready to sleep and get ready to return the rental car to Brisbane the next day. Yoga Week was coming up – time to retreat.

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Magic Travel – Sydney

Day 15 – 18 Sydney

The flight was an overnight flight of about 8 hours long. I had a comfortable seat but as usual I did not sleep that much. We arrived in the morning 9 am and going though customs was easy…even though I was a bit apprehensive having seen those reality shows on tv about airport security in Australia – but I had nothing to worry about. I had arrived in Australia! I could not believe it – there I was finally at the other end of the world, a dream come true. How grateful I am and feeling lucky. Finances were still giving me worries though and I knew there is an old block there that I really need to work there or maybe I should be doing better financial planning..haha. Trusting in the universe …

Sydney is a wonderful city, clean, vibrant and creative. The people are so friendly, open and relaxed: I felt very much at home. Arriving at the airport I went to get a mobile phone or sim card so I could make calls in Australia..I tried the Vodaphone desk and the guy was very honest when I explained what I wanted – he was not trying to sell me the Vodaphone phone at all but instead wrote down the name of a store JB where I can find what I need.. Well, for a first impression of Australian people that was certainly very refreshing. Later when I did go into JB or JD, I do not know, the lady who helped me also did not try to sell me anything but instead advised me to just buy a simple sim card and put it into my own phone.. checking first of course if it would be unlocked. I love it…was it just me or does this happen to other people too. The whole phone thing was becoming a quest, because I did get a sim card later and then I found out that my phone was locked and it would take at least 7 days to have it unlocked so I ordered a small phone online through ebay and when it came the next day – it also did not work…help…Luckily my friends later gave me one of their phones to use and I am ever so grateful.

But going back to Sydney – my Airbnb place where I was going to stay 2 nights was in a place called Kirribilli (love the sound of that) and I had to take the ferry across the channel to get there. They have a great ferry system with many boats and destinations, it is like taking a bus. What especially delighted me was that the ferry took me by the famous Opera House, the symbol for Sydney, and on the other side there was the Sydney Harbour Bridge. What an entrance to Sydney – the best, I still had to pinch myself because I could not believe I was actually there. My hosts were a lovely young couple with a cat. He is from Wales and she originally from the Philippines. They both work hard to make it all work and they do live in one of the nicest areas of Sydney. Location was perfect: I got to cross the Sydney Harbour bridge which brought me into the Rocks, the oldest area of Sydney. It was there that the ships with the convicts arrived and so this place has quite a history. The houses have that old colonial feel to them and I was lucky to arrive into a lovely market with arts and handicrafts. I even found a stall with Dutch liquorice…yum. The next day I went to visit the NSW of Arts Museum, where a great collection of Australian and Aboriginal paintings are being exhibited. The museum is free and I was impressed by some of the Australian artists, who you normally do not hear about. Their main exhibition was Rembrandt..but knowing already about him being Dutch, I skipped that one.

After the museum I went into the Royal Botanical Gardens – which lays on the water front and it is a beautiful old designed garden where you can have a lovely picnic or enjoy some peace and quiet, also for free. The next place to visit was The Opera House building and I went in just to get an impression of the inside. You can do a tour, but it was enough for me just to be inside and feel the energy. The Opera House is located at Cicular Quay – a central place from where you can get into the centre or take the ferry to where ever you want to go. When you get an Opal card – it is easy to travel with that – you just charge it when you need more money on it.

 

After such a nice cultural day, there was still more to come. I was going to meet up with Claire who I had met in Glastonbury before and we were going to have dinner and then I wanted to go to this music bar called the Basement where they would have a Jam session. It was great to see Claire and we had some good Asian food. The food so far had been excellent – there are many Asians in Sydney and you can see the effect on the restaurants – there some Asian fusion going on which is very tasty indeed. But what I like best is that the sushi is extremely cheap and I love sushi. Anyway, after dinner we went to the Basement where there was already a crowd waiting for the jam session to start. It is a popular evening, or so I have been told and I was going to see if I could maybe do a song. The house band was playing some songs in the style of Grover Washington Jr – nice and mellow. Just the guitar player seemed to have a bit of trouble getting into it, but when the guest band came after that I understood because he was a hard rock guitar player and he did it with flair and all the moves of a rock guitar player. They were fun – just the singer could not match the sound of the musicians – but it was still entertaining. After their crazy performance, and Claire unfortunately had to leave already, the house band started to invite people to come up and sing. I was getting chatty to the sound man and he encouraged me to go up there. They were doing a bit of soul and R&B so I did not know if my jazz or blues would fit in, but when I talked the leader of the band, he was fine with me doing a blues song. So when he called and I got up there and did my ‘Change is gonna come’ in the blues version – the band was really getting down with it and I could see that they were having fun and so was I. The audience seemed to like it and so I was surprised when the band leader told me I could only do one song, maybe later another one. I know these things happen with a jam session but still it is difficult not take that too personal. Maybe it was too bluesy…because after that there was more soul. I decided that was enough so I said goodbye to the sound man and left to go back. At least I did it and that felt good.

The next day after all that culture I decided to go to Bondi Beach and do the coastal walk to Bronte, something my friend Annabel advised me to do. It was a warm day – but it was easy to get there by train and bus, it took me about 40 minutes. When I arrived I saw a beautiful big white beach with some good looking blue water and surf boys…did I tell you that the men are very tasty for the eyes. I do not know if that is an Australian thing, or just a Sydney thing, but I do not care either way. I got myself some snacks for on the beach and started my coastal walk in the direction of Bronte beach. It was a lovely walk with some good scenery and it took me about 1 hour to get there, after which I plunged in the sea and cooled off as it was very warm that day. That sea felt sooo good, I loved it, Life was extremely good at that moment. I did have to do the walk back and my feet were already killing me but I soldiered on and made it back to get the bus and train to go back to the Airbnb. I had to pack my suitcase and leave to go to the airport for the evening flight to Brisbane. It was time to go see Mark after 40 years.

 

 

 

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Magic Travel – Thailand part 3

 

Day 7 – Day 12 Koh Samet paradise
Heavenly bliss – the island was everything and more what we hoped for – lovely beaches, blue water and luscious green around. We could feel our relax mode starting to work immediately. This was exactly why I wanted to come to Thailand in the first place.. and I was extremely pleased that we had made the decision to come. Thank you Nadia, for helping us get there.. The hotel Sky Cottage looked very nice and clean with all the modern facilities we need, the beach was around the corner. Finally Bliss… The sea was warm, the sand soft and everybody looked relaxed. Now it was our time to get relaxed. For these days I have nothing much to report as we did not do very much. Almost every day we went to the beach, we swam and then in the evening we had dinner on the beach. It was great that we could just walk along the sea to the next beach which was a lot busier but looked so inviting and charming in the evening with all coloured lights and lanterns, like a fairy tale. On one of the mornings we wanted to walk on the beach in the direction of the one little village which is on the island. The more we came into that direction, the more people we encountered and most of them were Chinese groups who had taken over the hotels and restaurants where they were staying.

This holiday it was becoming clear that tourists now are from all parts of the world, where like 10 years ago it mostly the Western people taking holidays and doing travel. Not only Chinese people were here, but also many people from Russia. I think it is good that they can now travel freely and connect with the world and other cultures, I hope we all get a better understanding of each other this way. I have always believed that travelling is the best way to open yourself up for other ways of living and this helps to understand that we all have our different ways but also that we are all human beings first. Travelling brings peace..

On one afternoon, my friend Carole went on a 6 island speedboat trip and I stayed at the beach – I decided to visit this little place on a small hill between beaches, as Carole had told me it was a magical little place where you can have lunch. As I arrived I saw this wooden cabin, with a wooden terrace on stilts – it had lounge seats and it looked very inviting. An older Thai woman, well probably my age, greeted me – she had a shirt on with lots of wholes in them and was smoking a cigarette while talking to a man who was sitting there about an experience she had in a shop where they had taken her for a tourist instead of a local. It seems she does not quite fit the picture of a typical Thai woman, she is a rebel. The pirates flag was hanging outside her cabin which said enough and on the cover of her menu she had a picture of a witch flying on a broomstick with the title Noina’s Mystic Kitchen – and subtitle: “enter at your own risk”. Now this felt as my kind of place and I immediately felt Glastonbury magical vibe, my home away from home. I had just given my order as this bubbly American woman enters and immediately says to me: “hi, what is your name?” A bit taken aback but in a pleasant way, I replied : I am Manon. “Ohh”, she says, “you speak English, how wonderful”.

She tells me that she has been staying with her Thai friend and her family and most of them do not speak English. Her name is Stacy and she is fun and enthusiastic, it made me smile. Then she makes me smile even more when she suddenly announces that she wants to sing. She takes out a little speaker and her phone – she asks Noina to turn the music that was playing off and then she turns on her speaker. “Do you know the Dixie Chicks”, she asks and I nod cause I have heard of them. She turns on a song and starts to sing along loudly and without any inhibition – I am in awe – firstly it is not bad and secondly it takes guts to just do this in front of strangers, I know as I perform myself. This day is getting better and better. I video tape her with my camera and then when she is done she asks me to sing along – I did tell her I am a Jazz singer – we both sing along to a song by Clearwater Revival – if I say this correctly.. I love this spontaneous happening. Then she asks me to sing a song and I sing Summertime – Louis Armstrong version – and it gives Stacy goose bumps, or so she says. What a splendid afternoon – but unfortunately it had to come to an end. We promise to be friends on Facebook and stay in touch. I walk away with a feeling of positive encouragement – as I had not been feeling that wonderful the last couple of days. Doubting a lot about myself – that is what a holiday can do – when you are not distracted by anything, feelings that have been pushed away come up. But Stacy showed me how to be in the moment and to just enjoy – thank you for that Stacy – I needed this.

The next day we meet up with my friend Nadja and her friend Anja, who were instrumental in getting us on the island. I had met Nadja only once in The Netherlands when I organized an Earth festival. She works with horses and she organizes tours to sacred places like me but more with the focus on horses and working with them intuitively. I followed her posts on facebook and saw she was in Thailand – she had also been in Pattaya and had gone to Koh Samet – Carole and I had been trying to decide which island to visit as we did not want to be in Pattaya for 10 days and this helped us to make up our mind. We did choose a different hotel and ended up at the perfect spot with a perfect little peaceful beach. So while we were having lunch on this beach on the second day of our stay, Nadja and Anja found us by magic, although we did tell them at which hotel we were staying, but then still it does not mean that we would be at the beach when we were. Anyway, it was so lovely connecting and we chatted away about all our experiences. They were going to stay a few more days and then travel in the direction of Cambodia – both of them were going to travel at least for 1 or 2 more months more. Anja told us that she had quit her job of many years and wanted to take this time to think about her next step. I think that it takes courage but it also proves to me that when your heart is not into what you are doing anymore, that it is wise to change course. I did this once and I know I will do this again when needed. It always means giving up certainty and it is this fear of the unknown that keeps a lot of people who would like to follow their heart from making that decision. It is the ultimate life challenge to trust that everything will be all right and that you allow yourself to be supported by the universe. Life is too short to feel trapped into a situation that gives you stress.

We met Nadja and Anja again 2 days later for dinner – another magical happening – as they had chosen a restaurant they thought nice for which I happen to have had a discount card from the manager of our hotel. What are the odds as there are many restaurants around that area. We had a very funny time with a waiter who had a crazy laughter which made us laugh even more. His history was not so funny though as he had to flee from Cambodia years ago when the country was in a state of chaos and war. But he was now living and working on Koh Samet, found friends and was happy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We did rent a scooter one day and we drove to the south point of the island – only about 20 minute drive – we went to a beautiful beach called Ao Wai where we had a little picnic on the beach. We felt free and relaxed.. hope we can keep that feeling going.

 

 

 

But as I am writing this, we are back in Pattaya in our apartment and had to get back through this crazy town filled with people, cars, pollution and more. It immediately depleted our energy. We also spotted a lot of older Western men with Thai women or just on their own sitting in café’s waiting for Thai women to approach them. This made us even more sad.. Sex unfortunately is the major activity trade in this city but for me it feels like a symbol for men craving love and attention, which in this case they turn into lust. I do not want to think of all the young women and men probably even children who are used for this gain. A big culture change is needed for the Thai as they seem to accept this as normal and a good way to get an income., but at what cost?  and of course we need a big culture change too…

 

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