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Raglan

Raglan is more than just a world class surf beach. This uber hip little town has an adorable downtown with chic shops, fresh cafes, yoga studios, and fantastic coffee. With the help of my friend Alyssa we found a great hike with a fun small caving experience. Raglan is in the Waikato region and is not far from Hamilton. Loads to explore here. This is a link to some hiking trails to get you started.

 

 

 

Link HERE.

Hobbiton

On the road between Hamilton and Tauranga you can stop off to visit the movie set Hobbiton. It was a bit of a splurge to do this stop and we were a little worried we might have unrealistic expectations. The visit did not disappoint. It was wonderful and we all really enjoyed our visit. It is a guided tour and you get to have a beer or a non-alcoholic ginger beer at the end of the tour in the Green Dragon Pub. Loved it!

Link HERE.

Mt. Manganui

Located right next to Tauranga Mt. Manganui is touted as one of New Zealands best beach destinations. We had a fantastic time climbing Mauao, swimming in the gorgeous ocean, indulging in fresh fish n chips, and enjoying the numerous playgrounds and parks along the beach. The downtown area is a happening spot with loads of trending cafes, bars, and coffee shops.. There is a camp ground and hot pools right at the base of the mountain. You can’t go wrong with a stop here.

 

Link HERE

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O’Hope

This is a hidden gem and I would love to spend a lot more time here. There are not a lot of amenities in O’hope, but it has an amazing stretch of safe beautiful beach, a darling clean park with good play equipment and a few cafes and shops. If we had more time we would definitely spend more than an afternoon here. If you love a chill beautiful beach with not a lot of shopping add this stop to your itinerary.

 

Link HERE

Napier

It is hard to see in this picture but Napier has a fantastic bouncy playground in the bay that is free of charge. We got there early on a cooler morning and the kids didn’t even need to wait in line. We were treated a visit to the Splash Planet water park which the kids loved. Napier suffered an earthquake in 1931 and was rebuilt with major art deco influence. Napier is located in Hawke’s Bay which boasts fantastic winery’s, fruit and veggies. And lots of wonderful people!

 

Link HERE

Yoga: Reset

Traveling the past 4 months in Japan, China, Bali, and Malaysia has been wonderful. It has also been exhausting and a tad bit stressful. I am an A/B type personality. I really want to simply go with the flow, but there is a loud voice demanding ‘what’s the plan!!’. I am challenged with ‘control’ issues. This trip has been a great opportunity for me to work on finding a balance of the two. How much to plan and how much to go with the flow.

In my yoga practice I tend to go for pushing myself. My type A side and the ‘go hard or go home’ takes the lead. This isn’t all bad. To make progress you often need to push limits, but it is also important to take time to listen to the body and ‘self’ and figure out what is actually needed in the moment.  When I took the time to listen my self was saying please slow down and just breathe.

 Are you a person who drives yourself and are your own worse critic? Do you often have the feeling of not good enough? Do you have a hard time sitting still and ‘not doing anything’?  I am with you! The voices inside my head pushing me to try harder and do more can really exhaust me. Sometimes I just need to put those voices to the side and listen to the often softer spoken voice asking me to take care of myself and love myself and just be. I hope you are listening to the voices, hearing them all, and taking the advice that best fits your needs at the moment. You get to choose.

If you are ready to take it down a notch and get a reset here are some links to yoga poses that will help with relaxation and restoration. If you have not tried a restorative yoga class and you tend toward the achievement oriented side of the spectrum then I think you should try it. The first time I tried restorative yoga I just about left the class because i didn’t think we were doing enough. Yes, it was that bad. It took yoga teacher training for me to understand how badly I needed to just relax and restore. No need to do. No need to accomplish. No need to feel successful. Just be. Just breathe. It is a powerful practice. Here is an article written by a fitness junky over achiever that I feel explains the power of restorative yoga pretty well. Link Here.

Travel: Slow Down

I have a cousin who lives near Melbourne and when we were planning our trip I asked her opinion on where we might stay when we were in the area. She suggested Phillip Island. Knowing it would be summer there I jumped on making an Airbnb reservation as soon as possible. We ended up with a lovely two bedroom apartment that was walking distance to the beach and the sweet little beach town of Cowes for just $60 a night. Score! So great when you make reservations 6 months in advance and it works out! We settled in for a nice two weeks of beach life in Southern Australia. 

Southern Australia has a different feel than the Sunshine Coast. Our last stay was in Mooloolaba which is fantastic and I highly recommend it, but it does have a bit more of a ‘scene’ than you get when you come to the south. The town of Cowes is very laid back and while it has it’s coffee shops and designer clothing stores it has little less flash to it. For our current state of being it was the perfect fit.

We received a Christmas Gift of the Penguin Parade Package from our dear relatives in Boston. The Penguin Parade is a conservation effort and an opportunity to view the Little Penguin species exiting the ocean at sunset and making their way to the nests they have made on the shores of Phillip Island. We were lucky enough to be there after the babies had been born so we had the opportunity to see the little ones waiting for mom and dad to come home and feed them dinner. You can read more about the Penguin Parade if you click this link. We also took in the Maru Koala and Animal Park because we can’t get enough time viewing Koala’s and feeding kangaroo’s! So much fun. We had a great time at Maru and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. Link here.

Momma: Stablization

The majority of our time on Phillip Island was spent reading, watching movies, going to the beach, baking cookies, playing with the neighbor children and going to the park. It was summer holidays in Australia and we had no problem going with the flow.

We also felt lucky to get to spend time with my cousin and her lovely family. The kids were excited to meet more family and to feel connected to our roots half way around the world. The gift of being together and meeting children in person whom I have only seen in pictures is priceless. I had the opportunity to wake early one morning and do yoga on the beach with my cousin Heidi. It is one of those moments you tuck away and hold in a special place. I know one day in the far future we will have the chance to be together again and we can pull that memory out and enjoy it all over again.

The past four months of travel have been complex and dynamic, but also exhausting. We needed this time to just relax and reset. It has been a wonderful. The greatest part is it is only the beginning of reunions and family! We are off to New Zealand next and have loads of people to catch up with. I am so excited to be returning to Aotearoa after 15 years away. New Zealand has a special place in my heart and soul. I can’t wait to get there and share it with my family.

Until next time,

Enjoy the Moment,

Yogatravelmomma

Links to Phillip Island Destinations

 

Penguin Parade

This is a major conservation effort on Phillip Island to protect the little penguin species. The little penguin is the smallest penguin bred in the world. It is super sweet to see the little buggers waddle out of the ocean up to their burrows. We followed the rules and didn’t take any pictures. But you can see pictures and more information about the viewing if you click the…

Link

 

Phillip Island Tourism Site

We found this website helpful for finding out when and where local events were taking place. While we were on the island there was a car show going on. It is well organized and very user friendly. A great resource if you are planning to spend some time on the island!

 

 

Link

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Australia – Sunshine Coast

Yoga – Finding Balance

When we landed on Christmas morning in the Brisbane Airport my head was spinning. We left Bali at 9.30pm Christmas Eve and landed in Brisbane at 5AM Christmas Morning. I realized on the flight that Vivian most likely had a fever, we had an hours drive to get to our accommodation, and I really hadn’t done much planning for Christmas. Needless to say I was feeling a little off balance. Luckily the airport was pretty quiet on Christmas Morning and we had no trouble getting our rental car organized. I was surprised to learn we would be driving a Mercedes!

When I initially made the reservation 6 months ago I thought the advertisement of ‘a Mercedes or similar vehicle’ would most likely land us in a mid size Toyota Camry, but true to the advertisement we were going to be driving the Sunshine Coast in style. Here is me trying to figure out all the gadgets and getting myself a bit accustomed to driving on the opposite side of the car and mentally switching myself to the left side of the road. Talk about being off balance!

I had experience driving on the opposite side of the car and road but it had been over 20 years and I was a bit nervous. Being Christmas Morning there was very little traffic on the road and I was able to get my bearings and move us along. We made it to the gorgeous house where we were going to be house/pet sitting about 9AM. I rushed inside to get the stockings stuffed, my dear friend Kim and her daughter Holly were there with some presents for the kids, and we had a dog to bring it all together. 

My head was spinning slightly less and I felt like i had my bad mom guilt under control. We got organized and headed over to Kim’s house for a massive Christmas Dinner with all her children and grandchildren. It was a wonderful day. The kids had a blast playing and swimming. We had great conversations. The food was wonderful and it was an amazing feeling to drop into the home and life of my soul sister and be able to pick up where we left off 20 some years ago. It was a fantastic Christmas gift to be with them.

We have been on the road for just over 4 months and although our time in Japan, China, Bali, and Malaysia was wonderful it also took a lot out of me and I was exhausted! Over the past four months we have seen and done so much and made countless adjustments. It all hit me at once and I collapsed on our bed and slept like I had not slept in months. Over the next week I would turn to my yoga practice to help restore my balance. 

I incorported  tree pose, warrior 3, and balancing half moon into my asana routine. (You can click on the links for yoga journal tutorials on how to do the listed balancing poses.) I struggle with balance on many levels and this practice is essential to help me realign a sense of core stability. After my asana work I held onto that sense of balance and incorporated it into my meditation practice letting it work on my breath and slowly infusing my whole self with a greater sense of balance and stability.

If you are interested in checking out your balance you can simply practice at the kitchen counter. Lift one foot and play with balancing, see if you can let go of the counter,  then try it with your eyes closed (hold on to the counter at first!). Slowly you can take this practice away from the counter (or wall), but it is best to have something to hold onto when you first attempt balancing . Finding our balance using our internal kinesthetic awareness is a powerful tool for lifelong balance and this simple daily practice can make a big difference. Give it a try! 

 

My friend Kim with one daughter, one granddaughter, two grandsons and me with my two at Mooloolaba.

Travel – Australia and the Sunshine Coast

Although part of me really wanted to just stay in bed and lounge around the house for the week we were in Brisbane I couldn’t contain my excitement to see this magical part of the world. The number of outstanding beaches in Australia boggles my mind and the Sunshine Coast boasts some of the best. There are thousands and thousands of miles of coastline and most of it is uninhabited. The land mass of Australia is similar to that of the contiguous states of America and while the United States has a population of 323 million people Australia has a mere 24million (less than the population of California!). Needless to say finding a lovely beach that isn’t crowded is not a problem. 

We happened to score our house/pet sit right in the gorgeous town of Mooloolaba and it’s gorgeous beach. Here is a quick view..

Living up to it’s name the Sunshine Coast we had serval sunshine filled days at endless stretches of white sandy beaches. (We also experienced some massive thunder/lightening storms!) The water was the perfect temperature and we were fortunate to be in an area that was currently free of the blue bottle jellyfish. If you plan to head to the beaches of Australia I recommend doing some research into the jellyfish seasonal migrations. We ran into them during our stay in Hawaii and while they are not dangerous it is certainly unpleasant. This blog (https://thriftyfamilytravels.com) is particularly useful when it comes to researching Australia and the Sunshine Coast travel. 

Another of our favorite outings around Brisbane was the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. One of Vivian’s Christmas wishes was to hold a koala bear and this was the place to do make that wish come true. It is a sweet little sanctuary that cares for koalas and a few other Austailian favorites like dingos, tasmanian devils, the kookaburra bird, platypus, kangaroos/wallabys, and the wombat. We really enjoyed it and felt it was good value for the money. I know the Australian Zoo (Steve Erwin) is also amazing but it was out of our budget. The Lone Pine Santuary came in at half the price and delivered the experience we wanted.

One thing I really wanted to do while we were in the Brisbane area was snorkel the southern most tip of the Great Barrier Reef. Our snorkeling experience in Bali was average and we were disappointed by the bleached coral. I was hoping we would have better luck with Lady Musgrave Island. So I used our Christmas money from Grandma and Grandpa to purchase a day tour on the Lady Musgrave Experience.

We had to drive about 3 hours from Mooloolaba to get to the village of Bundaberg to catch the boat. We had hoped to get to Bundaberg early in the day so we could tour the Bundaberg Brewed Drinks factory and the Mon Repos Turtle Center, but alas we were stuggling with some health issues and only just made it to town in time to eat dinner and get a good nights rest before heading out at 7am for our 3 hour boat ride to the island.

Lady Musgrave Island

I typically get very sea sick so I was a bit nervous about this expedition. I made sure all our family took a motion sickness tablet the night before and the morning of our tour. I was impressed with the results. There were a lot of people who got sick on the ride out to the island but we make it unscathed. We did have a little tummy turning but it was remedied by standing on the upper deck with the wind in our face and the endless blue ocean all around us. We had a great day on the water snorkeling and exploring the island, but it was a bit of a disappointment because the reef is mostly bleached. Our expectations of Finding Nemo were too high..

After getting back to Mooloolaba we had a day to recover and then got ready to celebrate New Years Eve on Mooloolaba Beach. It was a wonderful evening and under a gorgeous full moon we watched the fire works cascade over the ocean and said goodbye to 2017 and all it’s tumultuous life changing events and welcomed the clean slate of 2018.

Momma – Dealing with Illness 

On our flight from Bali I realized Vivian had a fever. Luckily the plane was about empty and she was able to stretch out and go to sleep. The Ibuprofen brought the fever down and when we landed Christmas Morning she was alert and doing well. We went on to have a lovely Christmas Day. That night she complained of a headache and had another fever. Again the ibuprofen brought down the fever and the next morning she was again up and perky and ready to go. Then one day later she had a rash on her back and belly that traveled to her arms and legs, but did not to up onto her face. We were a bit alarmed and I was trying to hold back my panic. After doing some research and making a few calls we felt confident in a diagnosis of Roseola which is a common childhood virus, but it typically is caught by children from ages 6months to 2 years. Apparently Vivian had escaped exposure to that particular virus when she was younger and had most likely recently picked it up at one of the hotel pools. 

It was a rather scary few days with the unexplained high fevers and accompanied headaches and rash.  I was very relieved to learn what virus was attacking my baby girl. She was a trooper and made it through just fine, but it was a worry. My heart goes out to parents and families who are struggling with sick children. It is such a helpless feeling to see children suffering and not be able to fix it.  Knowing that this was her fight and all I could do was support her and give her the encouragement and love she needed while her body healed itself was tough. 

A few days later Leo started throwing up and couldn’t hold water down. He had convulsive throwing up each time he tried to drink water for about 6 hours. I sat with him all day and asked him to take sips of water. We stayed home and just worked on getting 2 cups of water in him over the next 6 hours. Finally by that evening he was able to keep down a cracker and his water. We suspect he had dehydration sickness because none of us came down with a similar stomach virus which would be typical. We had spent several days in the intense summer sun and didn’t drink enough water. Between all the travel and excitement/dissapointment of Christmas coupled with hours at the beach we think he just got too dehydrated and his body went into revolt. After a full days rest and recovery he was back in action. 

Just in time too! The next morning we were up meeting the New Year with a gorgeous sunrise over the fantastic Sunshine Coast and getting ready to fly to our next destination Melbourne, Australia! It had been an exciting and intense last week of the year. Making it to Australia and having a home to stay in with the accompanying crazy dog to care for was wonderful. Having Christmas and getting to catch up with my long time and dear friend Kim her husband and her family who I had not seen in fifteen years was fantastic. The day of snorkeling, holding Koala Bears, and lovely afternoons at gorgeous beaches was magical. BUT, it was also all a bit intense and tulmultuous when you throw in a virus and some serious dehydration sickness!! I think it is time for us to take it easy for a week or two…. So let’s head to Melbourne!

 

Until next time…

Enjoy the moments,

Yogatravelmomma

Back in Beautiful Bali

View from balcony Kartika Homestay, Ubud

Healthy Environment:

  • Does my environment make me feel safe, nurtured, and motivated to be the best I can be?
  • Are there elements of my environment that could change?
  • How can I surround myself with the energy I need to do my best work?
  • What am I willing to let go of and what are the most important elements I need to surround myself outside and in?
  • Are there people in my life I need to let go of or change my relationship with? How can I surround myself with people who support my visions and best intentions?

Yoga: Environment

We made it back to Bali! It was a relief to land in Bali and feel the air seemingly infused with gentle warmth, peace, and happiness. We decided to go straight to Ubud to visit monkeys and have an experience with the Asian Elephants at the Mason Elephant Lodge and Park. Our rooms in Ubud were spacious and surrounded by trees and flowers. The pool was right outside our door….blissful. (click here for pictures of our hotel in Ubud, bookings link.)

I managed to get to the yoga barn for a class. Being led through yoga sequences that challenged me to move in supportive and nourishing ways  felt great.  I didn’t realize how uptight I was feeling and working up a good sweat, breathing deeply, and allowing myself to unwind felt so good. That night I was able to sleep better than I had in weeks. I felt restored and ready for new adventures.

Stress and anxiety are tricky beasts. Sometimes they have a way of creeping into my being with such subtlety I don’t recognize they have taken up residence. The tight restricted breathing, clinching gut, and constant nagging feelings become part of me and I forget that there is a way of being that is lighter and seemingly effortless. 

Environment plays a key role in how I feel. This trip is giving me ample opportunities to explore and feel different environments and how they affect me inside and out. The experience  has made me more mindful of the space I will eventually chose to live and the ways I can infuse my surrounds with elements, people, and food supportive of light, energy, generosity, caring, and hope. 

It isn’t always possible to control our external environment, but i think the more mindful we are of how our surroundings are effecting us the more we can take steps to adjust our environment to support our internal desires.

The space that surrounds us also fills us. How you surround yourself will be reflected in how you feel inside. Be mindful of your surroundings and how they are effecting your life and make changes to your environment that reflect the changes you are hoping for in your soul.

Travel: North Bali/Lovina/Pemuteran

Our second month in Bali has been even better than the first. In October we explored Ubud, Sanur, and Nusa Dua. We had a great time but it was only the last few days of our trip I started to feel a sense of the true Bali. It is complex to get a sense of a place when only visiting for a brief period. We tend to have experiences that are designed for tourists and due to our ignorance and desire for life to be somewhat ‘easy’ we lean towards the areas that cater to our foreign tastes. This isn’t bad, but it does have the tendency to give a narrow view of a place. Some areas feel more authentic and in our experience getting out of the main tourist areas and heading to the North of Bali was the best choice we could have made to see a more authentic Bali.

Honestly our desire to go North was driven by the fear of the unpredictable nature of Mt. Agung’s volcanic activity. Our flight into Bali had been delayed due to an eruption and prevailing winds carrying the ash toward the airport. The volcano had a couple of days spewing out ash, but up to this point has not had another major eruption. The last major eruption was in 1963 read more about that eruption here. The people of Bali are not fearful of the volcano and are going about their daily lives with acceptance of the fact they live on a volcanic island. We were often asked if we were afraid of the volcano and my response was not really, we can drive away from the problem. But, I did have some apprehension regarding a possible larger explosion.  

Considering cost, ease of booking, and relative ‘safety’ from the volcano we decided to see the North West of Bali, Our destinations were Lovina and Pemuteran. The drive from Ubud to Lovina was beautiful. As we climbed the mountains outside of Ubud we had gorgeous views of the sweeping rich farm land plateaus,combined with lush jungle, views of Mt. Agung and Mt. Batur’s massive peeks, and puffy clouds dotting the horizon. The air was much cleaner, the cars, shops, and people in general are less. Climbing up one can start to see the layers of Bali. We felt instantly happy in our decision to climb above the massive central tourist area of Bali.

From Ubud it takes about and hour and a half to get to Lake Bratan and the Pura Ulun Danu temple.  The temple is dedicated to the goddess of lakes and rivers, Dewi Batari Ulun Danu, and is very significant place for worshiping the pure waters that irrigate most of Bali’s precious farm land below. This water is considered sacred and the environment supports that feeling. The mountains rise up around her with a feeling of majesty. The clouds often bounce of the top of the mountains or enshroud them with blessed moisture that is deposited into the serene lake basin. We felt refreshed and invigorated by the crisp mountain air and the environment dedicated to worshiping clean, nourishing, and abundant water.

From here we drove through the mountains on tiny winding roads that had tummy sensitive Vivian puking out the window. Puking aside the experience of seeing the small mountain farms and villages of rural Bali was wonderful. Many of the people we passed would shout out a hello and share a smile. Our driver said people are excited when they see foreign travelers up in the mountains because they are rarely seen. We ended our drive in the seaside town of Lovina.

Our accommodation in Lovina was strange to say the least. Talk about environment effecting mood. Our accomodation was a bizarre arrangement of a German/Balinese relationship. We stayed in the ‘family suite’ which had a loft with beds for the kids. The air conditioning didn’t work well. The kids were eaten by bed bugs. The rooms were dirty. The positives included a ping pong table, pool table, wii video game console, and really fresh and tasty tuna dinners. Overall I was ready to leave after day one, but we were booked in for four nights. We made the best of our time by hiring a boat to take us out for a snorkel (which actually was a bummer because of the small jellyfish stingers and bleached coral), going shopping (which was a win in my book!), and having fun with the hotel kid friendly activities. Time for a change in environment!

This was just too weird!! and I don’t mean Eric’s hair. 

 

We hired our host to drive us to our second stop Pemuteran. Along the road to Pemuteran we made a stop at Brahmavira Arama, a buddhist monastery. It was a hot day and visiting the buddhist temple was quick and sweaty. It is located in a gorgeous spot up the side of the mountain with sweeping views of the jungle and ocean. It is so fascinating to see the Buddhist temples take on regional flavor. In every country we have traveled to so far we have visited Buddhist temples and each one has it’s own story tied to the region it is based. Fascinating!  After getting a cold drink we jumped back in the car to visit Banjar Hot Springs which has been built up and commercialized a bit, but that means bathrooms, people to ensure the rules are followed, and it was clean. We had a nice refreshing swim and then we were back on the road and finally arrived in Pemuteran.

Pemuteran is a gem! Most often it is touted as a jumping off point for the West Bali Natural Park or Menjangan Island. Menjangan is  protected and has some of the best snorkeling in Bali. The island also has great hiking and opportunities to experience Bali’s nature and wildlife at it’s best. We didn’t actually get to Menjangan during our stay in Pemuteran. We were so happy to just chill in our bungalows, swim in the pool, and splash in the ocean out front that we didn’t feel any desire to move from that chill vibe. If you decide to go to Pemuteran I can highly recommend Tira Sari Bungalows. Pemuteran is a small quaint village with a variety of warungs to choose from for meals. It is located in a small bay so the ocean water is calm and during our stay it was relatively clean. We did do one day of beach/ocean trash clean up but after that day we had beautiful clean ocean water and some decent snorkeling.

Momma: Christmas on the road

We decided to end our time on Bali at Water Bom in Kuta. It is located close to the airport and we had all enjoyed our day there the last time. We thought it might ease the pain of being on a plane Christmas Eve and in the airport Christmas morning. We did end up having another great day at the water park.

Water Bom so much fun!!

Being back in the city was exhausting. To me was a battle every time I stepped out of the hotel. The traffic is constant and there are rarely sidewalks. There are so many shops and people hawking you to buy their goods it is painful. It is dirty and crowded and lacks the charm and culture that the North of Bali offered with organic ease.  Environment was taking a toll on my bliss!

When I booked our tickets I had to be flexible with dates to get the best deal. I didn’t really think through what it would mean for the kids to be flying on Christmas Eve and landing in the airport Christmas morning. It provided a good opportunity for us to have some ;meaningful discussions about  the fundamental reasons we celebrate Christmas. We studied the history of the celebration and how we have arrived in the place we are today with all the presents, Christmas trees and Santa. They were receptive and understood this would not be a ‘regular’ Christmas, but the spirit of Christmas was alive and well in our family. 

 

But, they were still hopeful Santa would find a way to get to our ‘home’ in Australia and leave them a little something. Thankfully my dear friend Kim in Australia organized a house/pet sitting situation. So, when we finally arrive in Australia we will have a home to go to complete with Christmas tree, stockings and a dog. Knowing their environment would match their desires in some meaningful ways went along way to helping them cope with our very non-standard Christmas Eve. So, with gratitude and hope in our hearts we left Bali for a new environment and adventure in Australia!

 

Until next time…

Stay Present & Enjoy!

Yogatravelmomma

Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur 

                    Fancy 5 star hotel                           

Yoga – going with the flow 

We didn’t  plan on stopping in Kuala Lumpur. The day we were scheduled to leave Georgetown, Penang for Bali the volcano Mt. Agung was erupting and the wind was blowing the ash right towards the Denpasar airport. It was recommended we go ahead with our flight because the airport could open anytime. When we landed in K.L. we were informed all flights to Bali were cancelled. We were flying Malaysia Airlines and they were generous enough to give us  one night accommodation with meals included (at a very nice hotel!) to try to sort out what we were going to do. The kids thought we should just stay at the 5 star hotel, until i had them check the price on the lunch buffet and then they understood why we would not be staying at the 5 star hotel. It was a challenging 24 hours for mom/travel agent as getting any real information about the volcano is near impossible. It was also rather annoying trying to deal with the airlines who were overrun with all the cancellations and rebooking. In the end we decided to book an airbnb downtown Kuala Lumpur and go with the flow. 
Rooftop pool views
The kids and Eric did well going with the flow. The kids enjoyed the roof top pool, fast internet and proximity of a shopping mall with a movie theater. Eric was quick to find the very best sherwerma places within striking distance and I worked a lot on staying positive and figuring out whether or not we were going to make it back to Bali or lose out on a a whole leg of our pre-paid tickets and go to another destination. Yes, I was stressed out. To top it off I figured out I get IBS around my time of the month which makes life ever so pleasant when you are traveling out of a suitcase and eating most meals out. NOT! Sorry if that is TMI, but the truth is how I roll. It wasn’t my best week. Do all 40 somethings have trouble with this or is it just me?
I did manage to fire up my mediation and sun salutations practice even if it had to be done 33 floors up in a concrete building squished between the wall and the bed. I moved, I sat, I sang, I felt better, and I had to do it everyday!! I know I would have benefited from doing that practice three times a day that week, but I didn’t have the discipline. Some weeks are like that aren’t they? You feel icky, can’t seem to find a happy place, and each moment feels like work. That is when the ugly thoughts take over and you feel like it is all downhill. Luckily my practice kept me from going to far down the dark hole and I had my family to help me find ways to have some fun and focus on the light.
Entrance to Batu Cave – Lord Murugan
                                           Entrance to Ramayana Cave                      
     Fresh Coconut Water!

 

               Jai Hanuman!
           Panchamukha 

Chilling Out in Batu Ferringhi,Penang

Yoga – practice

This was the view out our apartment window the past two weeks. It was so refreshing and is probably my favorite part of Batu Ferringhi,Penang. I was inspired to get up earlier and to engage my physical yoga practice along with mediation. The wonderful thing about yoga is you really don’t need any equipment or special place to go do yoga. You can do yoga in your bedroom, living room, doing dishes or sitting in your chair at work! 

Traveling long term is hard. We have been in close proximity and with only one another for company the past 3 months. Yoga has played a roll in keeping our family together and for the most part well balanced and happy. Like a lot of families mom seems to be the hub of the family wheel and when I am feeling good and well balanced our unit seems to do much better. Luckily my family recognizes my need to take time to do yoga. And, this past two weeks they were very respectful of my desire to create a yoga video. It took more time than I expected and they were patient, kind and supportive. 

It is harder to make a video than I expected. Getting the right light and saying what you want to at the right moment is tricky. I almost gave up several days and then decided to stick with it and it turned out alright. Fear of making mistakes often holds me back. Luckily I am learning through my yoga practice perfection is an illusion and the greatest part of getting it ‘right’ is practice. Moving forward with your goals and practicing even when you feel terrified and unprepared and not good enough is what gets you to confident, prepared and more than good enough. The more you practice the better you get and then the fear turns into fun. 

I have had a couple of people ask me about where one might start if they were interested in doing yoga. So, I decided to put together a couple quick tutorials on my thoughts about where one could start a personal yoga practice. Yoga is a very large tree and there are so many branches, but in this authors opinion the root of the tree is breathing, mindfulness, and ease in the body. The goal is to find a practice that nurtures your body, mind, and spirit. So if you are interested in getting started with a yoga practice of your own you can check out my yoga videos on my  Yogatravelmomma Facebook Page

The street in front of our apartment.

Travel -choosing a destination-was that a typhoon? 

Why did we choose Batu Ferringhi to spend our downtime? Penang is relatively inexpensive, not crowded, an interesting mix of cultures, politically stable, set up for tourist travel, and it was a quick flight from Bali. In choosing our destinations I would classify ourselves as conservative. I felt with the children’s ages I didn’t want to risk going to more remote and less developed areas and honestly I don’t mind having modern conveniences like air conditioning and indoor plumbing! I feel most of the locations we are choosing to travel are ‘safe’ choices as they have modern hospitals, localized police, and some form of organized emergency preparedness. 

November is the end of the monsoon season for Penang which runs from September to November. The rain usually comes down a couple of hours a day then clears off. Sometimes it rains all day long and into the night which is what happened our first weekend here. The rain started coming down early afternoon and didn’t let up all day. It kept raining into the evening and the wind really starting whipping. I started to think this just doesn’t feel like a normal rainfall and started trying to find some information on the internet about weather in our area. I couldn’t find any information regarding the current status and no warnings or alerts. In the morning I learned we had slept through a near typhoon!

Although we were far from the more devastating floods we did have enough water to flood the pool and many of the cars parked on our complex grounds were flooded and unable to start. It was interesting to read the articles the following day as they echoed my thoughts ‘why wasn’t there any warning about this storm?” I couldn’t find any information about it the night it was happening.  Here is a link to the local reports on the flooding from Astro. (link) Overall the communities seemed to handle the flooding with general good humor and thankfully not many people were hurt. We heard quite a few people mention how the overbuilding and clearing of  hillsides most likely contributed to the recent floods. There was also a lot of talk about how more thought must be put into climate change when considering future building and a more effective weather alert system. I agree!

No matter where you are in the world there are threats to be aware of and ways to prepare yourself to handle the possible threats. Growing up in mid-western America weather is most certainly a threat to take seriously. Global travel takes the same kind of preparations. Read and ask questions. Know your capacity for independence. Have a back up plan and an exit strategy. Ask the locals questions about what to watch out for and how they handle emergencies. Find reliable sources of information and double check your sources.  Be proactive and stay present!

I think it is also important to reach out and get to know your neighbors. We have been fortunate to have wonderful Airbnb hosts who have been willing to extend their personal time to help us and extended the offer to help us in any situation where we might need it. Having a local connection is a bonus and is a great benefit of staying in an Airbnb.

 

Momma – Homeschooling

Homeschooling has its ups and downs. I love the spontaneous learning that can happen on our travels and field trip days. I really don’t enjoy handing out daily math, spelling, and writing lessons as I lack the enthusiasm to make them fun and engaging. I long for wonderful elementary teachers who have friendly fun ways to impart methods and tricks to learn these fundamental skills. In the meantime I am doing my best to keep the kids up to speed. I do love our days of laying together reading classic stories out loud, but we have had some rough days.

We see the world from different perspectives and they challenge me to see the world in new and fascinating ways. Often feel like I am failing, that I am not good enough, and that my kids deserve so much better. Luckily I have a husband, kids, family and friends who reminded I am good enough. They are doing fine and learning more than I could ever write down in a book of benchmarks or rubric scales. I am working through letting go of my fears and doubt and just enjoying this adventure with all of its ups and downs. I realize they are most likely learning more than I could ever ‘teach’ them 

This will be our last year of homeschooling. It is a bittersweet feeling. I know a special time in our life will be over when this trip finishes. We will move into new and exciting places in our lives and we will most likely spend much more time apart from one another. I know this is best for all of us, but it does make my heart ache a bit to think of ending this time in our life. Being mindful that this time will pass is helpful in getting through the rough days and focusing on the good ones.

The other day Leo asked me what are we doing here in Batu Ferringhi, Penang? And although I had a very logical and thought out financial plan to explain I realized what we are doing here is cocooning. Like the caterpillars we saw at Entopia yesterday. We are hanging in space liquifying ourselves and marinating in our own being. When we return home we will begin to unfold and take a new shape. It was no mistake that we went to the butterfly sanctuary yesterday and had the chance to witness the amazing metamorphosis of the caterpillar to butterfly. Yesterday was a good homeschool day and a special reminder of where we are and what we hope to become.

Until next time,

 

Stay Present and Enjoy!!

Yogatravelmomma

Exploring Georgetown!

We made it to our 4th country on this round the world adventure! I wonder if by the end of this adventure I will be able to go through an airport without feeling nervous! Each flight has been easier, but I still get a bit anxious going through security and wondering if we will be allowed into the country or out! 

For those of you thinking about traveling to Malaysia I can tell you for a US citizen the visa entry was a breeze. You can get a visa on arrival and stay up to 90 days. The website Visa HQ is a brilliant resource for travelers who need visa information. (Link)  We were lucky to be traveling very late at night and had no line at the immigration stand which was a life saver because we only had 60min. between our flights. We are getting more intuitive regarding airport layouts and managed to find our transfer train, make it through customs and run to our gate just in time to catch our connecting flight. Unfortunately our bags were not in such a hurry and we ended up waiting until 1AM for bags that never arrived. We were not the only ones and after waiting in line behind a very agitated and aggressive elderly Chinese woman I was finally able to have my turn with the poor young Malaysian guy doing his best to remedy our situation. We gave them our accommodation information and he assured me the bags would be delivered to our door by noon the next day. (and they were!!)  Luckily we had AMAZING Airbnb hosts who insisted on meeting us at the airport and providing us a ride to the apartment. The husband of the team waited for us over an hour and was so patient and also offered many times to help if we needed it. So kind. We finally made it to the apartment around 2am.

It is always a bit of a gamble renting from Airbnb. Photographs can be amazingly seductive and also deceptive. We have had pretty good luck with our Airbnb experiences so far, knock on wood, and we were happy with our diggs. It was a basic apartment and had two bedrooms. It was on the 23rd floor and had a lovely balcony with a view. It was great, but it did make my heart flutter to look over the edge.  The air-conditioning worked great and we were just down the road from a mall with all the modern amenities plus a fantastic food court!

 It is super nice to stay in apartments while doing so much travel. We have more room to spread out and it is nice having our own rooms, laundry, and kitchen. It is nice to be able to wake up in the morning and have our own food for breakfast, make popcorn, and store our snacks and leftovers in the fridge. Although, I do enjoy mixing in some hotel stays as well. Not worrying about making my bed, cleaning the floor, or making meals is a nice vacation from the realities of life. Hotels also offer the benefit of a front desk willing to help you sort out all your travel woes, but all this service generally comes with a higher cost and traveling on a budget means often we have to figure out those issues ourselves. We are getting quite well versed in using public transportation and figuring out how to put together a site seeing itinerary all on our own.

Eating out in Georgetown is a real treat! Penang is a cultural crossroads. All of the best foods from a cornucopia of Asian countries, Middle Eastern and some European cultures are competing for your tastebuds here in Penang. You can get fantastic street food or find lovely places to sit down and eat Middle-Eastern, Asian, Indonesian or a mix of all three foods for a very reasonable price. Most of the meals for the four of us came in around $15. Well worth the money and the joy of not have to cook and clean up!  Here is a great link to more information on Penang

Georgetown is a fascinating mix of cultures. Although it is a majority Muslim there are also HIndu and Buddhist temples sprinkled across the landscape. In fact just down the road from where we were staying was the largest reclining Buddha. This Buddha and temple belong to the Thai community and the land was bequest to their community in 1845 by Queen Victoria. More about the reclining Buddha here.

Across the road from the Reclining Buddha is the Dhammikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple. This temple houses several Buddhas and temples. During the weekday afternoons the temples become pretty quiet and it is a nice time to go and just sit to meditate.

I am loving all the temples we are having the opportunity to visit during our travels. The kids are to the point of temple overload and do groan a bit when I pitch the ‘hey, let’s go see this cool temple!’ but in the end they usually are quite taken with the sites and stories  the temples provide. I am a bit of a nerd when it comes to studying ancient cultures and religions. I love to look into the history, timelines, and ties to other cultures.

The Buddha was born in India and had influence there, but Buddhism has never a majority religion in India. During the reign of Ashoka (304-232 BCE) Bhuddism saw a rise in popularity but declined after Ashoka’s death and the decline of the Maurya empire. The popularity of Buddhism grew in East Asian countries and branched into several different schools of practice as we witnessed in both Japan and China. So fun to get to see this ancient history with my own eyes!

The third Buddhist Temple we visited was Kek Lok Si and it’s impressive statue of Kuan Yin ‘Goddess of Mercy’ in Chinese Taoism and Mahayana Bhuddists.  Kuan Yin is also known as Avalokitesvara a Bodhisattva (enlightened one who chooses to remain human in order to help relieve suffering).  The book I read while in China (The Moon in the Palace) was a historical fiction novel enlightening the rule of Empress Wu (690-705AD), who it is believed bolstered the popularity of Buddhism in China and consequently the rise in popularity of Kuan Yin. One of my favorite parts of our travels is the opportunity so see the history I have read about come to life. 

So my yoga practice continues to evolve and expand as I add more and more with the jnana brach of my practice. I am reviving my sun salutation and mediation practice and feel pretty balanced. I am hoping to put together some tutorial information regarding Sun Salutations and how to start your personal practice with solid fundamental alignment. Stay tuned!

There is so much more to say about Georgetown,Penang.  Hopefully this gives you a taste of Georgetown,Penang and what this place in the world has to offer. 

Here is a link to a map in case you don’t know where Malaysia and Pengang are in the world.

Next we are off to explore and rest in lovely Batu Ferringhi.

Until next time,

Stay present and enjoy!

 

Yogatravelmomma

 

Nusa Dua at Sunrise

 

Nusa Dua is on the south east coast of Bali and if you are an early riser you get a spectacular view of the sunrise. I have to admit my husband took this picture but he is graciously allowing me to use it. (It is possible you will see the same picture on his blog erics-hair-adventure.)  Nusa Dua, Bali is on the upper end of accommodation cost. Five star beach front resorts in Nusa Dua typically run $150US per night on the low end. Which is pretty expensive when you consider it is possible to get a 4 star hotel for as little as $25 a night for a couple. The Nusa Dua resorts are beautiful and they ensure the beach is kept clean.  They also manage to keep out the jet ski’s and other ‘water sports’ which makes a big difference when you simply want to enjoy a swim in the ocean and relaxing on the beach. The beaches are also some of the only white sand beaches on Bali and who doesn’t love clean white sandy beaches.  Nusa Dua, Bali often gets the label ‘sanitized’ when compared to the ‘real Bali’. While that might be an accurate description, I also believe it is what Bali might have looked like 60 years ago before we had motorized water sports and so much plastic garbage floating in the ocean.  I enjoy the ‘real Bali’ but, I also really enjoyed the sanitized beaches of Nusa Dua.

We opted to stay in an Airbnb in the area to keep within our budget and found a winner. The real benefit to this Airbnb rental was family running it. One of the members of the family met us and suggested we rent scooters to get us around the area more efficiently. He gave us a tour of the area on scooters, showed us how to access the resort beaches, where to park, and the best places to eat near by. Although we were hesitant we ended up having a good experience with the scooters. I think the kids enjoyed the scooter rides more than the beach! 

Close to the park we managed to find a little gem of a cafe called the Pirates Bay Bali. It is, obviously, a pirate themed cafe complete with a pirate ship, treehouse dining areas, and ropes to climb. We stopped off for a treat in the afternoon sun and the kids had a blast. I loved sitting up in the trees sipping my drink and looking out over the ocean. It was very Swiss Family Robinson, if the Robinson’s had a personal chef and room service. If we find ourselves in Nusa Dua for our second tour of Bali I am sure we will end up eating a meal or two here. ( Link)

Yoga

Other than beach time and scooter rides our time in Nusa Dua was pretty quiet. We had plenty of time to get caught up on school work and reading. I am slowly getting my physical yoga practice and meditation back in action and more consistent. It has been a challenge finding ways to keep it consistent with so many changes in location, time zones, and accommodation. By the end of this trip I will have the discipline to make my practice a priority no matter the excuses of time and place. Success in any endeavor is rooted in consistent practice. I plan to succeed in maintaining my happy healthy self throughout this epic journey and a consistent yoga practice is sure to be the foundation of that success. I found an informative article from Harvard Health Publishing extolling the virtues of a yoga practice.  It has been proven that yoga and meditation can have positive effects on your health specifically your heart. Click here to read the article. Do you have a yoga or mediation practice? What are you waiting for??!! Get started today. If you aren’t sure where to start send me a message and ask me I would be happy to help you get started. Until then you can just look at this gorgeous picture of a Nusa Dua, Bali sunrise, take a nice deep breath, and relax. A nice relaxing breath is the first step in a yoga practice. See you already started!!

Until next time…

Stay present and enjoy!

 

Yogatravelmomma

Kuta, Bali

 

                                                                               Beautiful Kuta Sunsets

Overall Kuta is a bit of a circus atmosphere, there are endless stalls of mass produced merchandise, retail ‘outlet’ shopping, major chain stores, chain restaurants and nightclubs. Kuta is on the southwest facing side of Bali and has stunning South Pacific Ocean sunsets bouncing off long sandy beaches. What can get lost in all this glitz and glitter ok Kuta is the culture of Bali and the outstanding personality of the Balinese people. A people whose nature exudes joy, deep spirituality, hospitality, and genuine care of people and all living things. In Kuta the beautiful culture of Bali can be a bit overshadowed by commercialism, but the people of Bali are there quietly making sure to keep the spirit alive. The culture of the Balinese people is intricately woven into their daily lives and business endeavors. Each business has it’s own alter and daily offerings are made and prayers said for all people participating, working and benefiting from that business. Bali is the only majority Hindu state in the country of Indonesia. The people and culture of the Balinese are what make Bali, even the circus of Kuta, such a special place in the world. I found this (Article) to be a good balance of the history and current state of Bali/Indonesian Hindu faith mixed with the Indonesian majority Muslim population. 

Alter at our pool hotel

We stayed in a smaller hotel not far from the main Kuta beach. Here is a link to pictures of our hotel (The Flora)  We were there in mid-October which is apparently a good time for the Kuta beach as the off shore winds and currents are not yet pushing all the ocean trash up on the beach. So, the beach was relatively clean and we were able to go for long walks along the water and enjoy the beautiful sunsets. We indulged ourselves with a bit of shopping, going to a movie theater, and eating waffles.

The main purpose of our visit to Kuta was taking the kids to the epic Water Bom. It is a major water park and we did have a super fun day going down the waterslides and hanging out in the pools. We managed to hit the shoulder season so the park was pretty quiet and we didn’t have to wait in many lines. Overall it was a great 9 hour day at the water park! Check out the link for more pictures, pricing, and how to get a deal for advanced purchase. (Waterbom)

 By the end of our week in Kuta I was exhausted. The constant badgering to stop and shop and buy something really took a toll on me. I felt a responsibility to spend money, but I really don’t have that much money to spend. I think it doesn’t make sense to most of the stall sellers in Bali. How can I possibly be here staying in a hotel and eating out if I don’t have extra money to spend?? It was challenging to walk past the same people everyday and not buy something. One phrase I picked up from the Balinese that helped a lot was ‘maybe tomorrow’ it was a hopeful and effective way to say no. ‘Hi Lady would you like a massage? Oh sounds lovely…maybe tomorrow. Ok maybe tomorrow then.” Hope, is a good balm for the soul.

I finally decided to have a shopping day, but only after figuring out what i really wanted and how much I was willing to pay. We realized our first week in Ubud that good negoating skills are a must. It has been good practice for me to stand my ground and walk away from a purchase. It helps to have had time to see what I am eyeing can be found in about 50 different shops so if this person isn’t willing to deal down to my price then maybe the next person will. The kids are learning some valuable lessons on shopping around, price comparisons, negotiations, and budgeting. It is fun to see their minds shifting and adapting to each new market we come across. Here is the outfit I finally decided to buy. It cost me about $10. Good thing I don’t have much money to spend or I would come home with way too many clothes!!!

 

Next week it is off to explore Nusa Dua….

Until next time,

Stay present and Enjoy!

Yogatravelmomma

We ended up staying in Sanur for just over a week. Most of the time we just hung around our pool, did reading, writing,  school work, and enjoyed catching up on some TV time. We would stroll down to the beach for a meal now and again or maybe wander down the streets to find some good eats. Local food was very reasonable. We could get a meal of rice and chicken for around $3.00US and a pizza cost about $8.00. Eating locally makes a big difference in the budget. How else can you eat but locally you may ask? Well you can take in many different cultural delights like sushi, American fare, or Aussie foods but they will cost you a bit more. Overall we managed to stay in budget pretty easily. Although, Leo was a bit put off that we didn’t put money in the budget for jetski rides, fly boarding, banana boat rides, and other ‘ocean sports’. We explained on his solo trip around the world he could use his own money to do those activities as much as he wanted but we were not paying for it this time around.

I started doing more yoga in the pool and the ocean and loved it. It is so nice to do the standing balancing poses in the water, so supportive. I think water yoga is in my future. Our time at the beach was limited due to the pollution. It is so sad. I cried the first day at seeing so much plastic floating in the water and washed up on the beach. I have read about it and know it is a problem in theory, but seeing the ocean littered with plastic made my heart weep. The second day I brought a few trash bags and cleaned our section of beach. It felt good but a bit futile and it made me more determined to find ways to stop contributing to the problem. We decided to start by requesting no straws in our drinks, seemingly harmless straws are a pollution nightmare (plastic straw pollution). We also started carrying our reusable bags for purchases and luckily our villa provided large drinking water containers so we could fill up reusable drinking containers. I know a lot of us are starting to see and make changes in our plastic consumption, but seeing the devastation on the ocean and planet has really intensified my determination to stop using plastic. Here is an interesting link from Seattle, they are banning the use of plastic straws and silverware. (Seattle no straws article)   If you love the natural world, please think about how you can change your lifestyle to make these changes happen. It is by the demands of the public that private industry will most effectively change what they are doing. If we demand a change as consumers and voice our opinion with our dollars real change in our environment is possible. It really does start with each of us taking a stand. And, while it is true that America does not have the pollution problems of third world nations, when we demand change those changes will ripple. We should be proud of our place as leaders in this world and understand that our actions and opinions about the environment are heard and felt around the world. We are leaders and it is time for us to lead the world in making this change. Isn’t it interesting to think about how our grandparents lived without it?? We know it can be done and our ancestors can give testament to the fact. We can do this people!!! Ok, plastic rant over….

On our last day we made a trip to the Sea Turtle Conservation and Education Center                                 (Link to Information) where we were able to see a few types of turtles who are receiving care and rehabilitation. The center also cares for nests of eggs and has a release program that is open to the public. The visit to the center is free and the release of a baby turtle is a donation of $10US per person. The kids picked out a sweet little baby and we took a drive to the big open ocean and let them go on the beach. We said a little prayer for our tiny turtle beings and let them go. It was amazing to see these turtles so full of intuitive drive and ambition once they hit the sand. We hope one day one of our little turtles will be laying eggs of her own on the beach. Hope….and maybe a real effort to get plastic out of the ocean!!

Having so much time is a luxury but also a beast! It is a balance of exploration and adventure mixed with ‘real life’ endeavors. We are challenged each week to discover what a new location, space, and atmosphere will bring up. The kids go through different emotions each week ranging from complete joy and elation with discovery and enjoyment to utter despair and tears at missing home and a ‘regular’ life. We are all finding ways to be with one another and also with ‘ourselves’. Currently we are enjoying reading The Girl Who Drank the Moon, observing and discussing different cultures, discovering history and geography of new places, and just observing how we feel organically in each new space we inhabit. Eric is enjoying his hair adventure be sure to check out his blog for a fresh and funny perspective on our travels  http://erics-hair-adventure.com. He is making the shift from public safety to writing with joy. It is fun watching him evolve himself into a new form. I am ready to expand my horizons and feel the need to shift my role in our family. I am not sure what shape that is going to take but I know the evolution is happening everyday without me having to think too much about it and that is what this trip is all about. Watching those turtles scuttle off into the ocean made me think wow, look at those beings diving into that ocean of what if’s. They know there is no staying still, no hiding in the sand. Life is about change and adapting to those changes. We don’t always get to say what the changes will be but we do get to choose how we show up. I am enjoying my daily practice of showing up and doing my best to enjoy the ride and opportunity to dive into the ocean of what ifs…  Hope you are exploring some what if’s in your life.

Next up for us is Kuta….

Until Next Time

Stay present and enjoy…

 

Yogatravelmomma