Prima Pearl morning alarm

You know those days when you really want (and need) a good sleep-in and chilled-out late morning? Today was that day for me, except that I woke up at 7 am to the sound of fire alarm and “this is an emergency, evacuate” repeating over and over again.

The timing couldn’t have been better (insert sarcasm), since only yesterday I found out that for some unknown reason my insurance company had denied the prolonging of my travel insurance, thus leaving me un-insured. They did send a letter to my address (in Helsinki), so I suppose they just presumed I would eventually find out I am a hazard on my own. Getting an Australian insurance: 140 dollars per month. Getting a travel insurance from an international company: Something between 600-1000€ per year. Nice.

Drama in Prima Pearl tower.
Drama in Prima Pearl tower.

As I woke up to the alarm and my brain started functioning, I got a bit anxious. I remembered all the fire drills I’ve had, and tried to think of what to do when on the 22nd floor. I was not panicking, and my roommate was calm as a hindu cow: she took the time to put on some make-up and had a decent effort trying to find her lipgloss before heading out of the apartment. And against what I was taught before, we took the elevator (there was a cute and fit guy in it, so I figured I could get stuck with him and be all alright) downstairs, where all the residents who had woken up were standing in their pyjamas. Later on I found out on Facebook that not everyone woke up, or bothered to go downstairs. We did get to see the whole show with firemen (men in uniforms!!), but apparently it was a false alarm. I guess I got lucky. Good amusement for the day, at least!

Shock-recovery pool time.
Shock-recovery pool time.

Tomorrow I will be moving to my “own” place, which I haven’t actually seen yet. Oops! I will be sharing the place with some (hopefully) lovely people, and share the room with someone so far lovely. I am a tad anxious, since I don’t have any experience in this kind of situation before, but at least it’s a learning experience!

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Oz life, 2 weeks down

Hello good people over the interwebs! I have been in the lovely lovely city of melbourne (sorry for the low case, but this keyboard seriously is making my life difficult) for exactly 2 weeks now. Impatient (and a tad perfectionist) as I am, I’ve had my moments of doubt and darkness; but very brief moments, since the shining new gym, sauna, jacuzzi and steam room in the apartment building I’m currently staying help with dealing with life crisis. So far I have walked across and around and up and down the streets of this beautiful city that has 4 seasons within one day. So far it has been rather pleasant even during the worst days, mind you.

Yarra river view.
Yarra river view.

After Asia times, coming to this Western environment has been such a shock that I have been eating sushi (hand rolls) every single day except for maybe 1 day. They’re everywhere! You can have them with brown rice, sometimes even black…and I can’t get enough. Specially when at the end of the day there’s discounts! I was not supposed to talk about sushi here…besides sushi, there’s a fair amount of other Asian heritage (and food), so one can easily feel homey, if the H&m and Ikea aren’t quite it. Food-wise, I also love the farmer’s markets. It is surprising how much cheaper food there actually is. And you get to have the conversations with the sellers, assuming they’re not too busy. And deals here and there as well, i.e a whole box of peaches for 2 dollars. From experience I can say that it is not easy carrying a box of peaches around town for a day.

You find this kind of stuff all over the place.
You find this kind of stuff all over the place.

I have kept myself pretty occupied with wandering and wondering about the future: I did agree to start writing blog posts for workingholidayjobs.com.au, which might mean more rambling on this turf, but who knows. I also got the opportunity to re-create the smoothie and juice menu for this one super cool and mouth-wateringly delicious semi-hipster restaurant-cum-coffee shop St.Ali, which I am pretty stoked about. Whee!
I do have a day job hopefully scored, but that remains to be seen, and today I finally managed to fix my missing apartment issue. Up until now I have had the luxury of staying at a friend’s well-set apartment in the CBD (Central Business District). I have truly enjoyed the brand new gym facilities and the rest, so we’ll see how I’ll settle to the “normal” life. It is about time I get a “normal” life, right?

I don't run here but I do see why some people do.
I don’t run here but I do see why some people do.

Yess, life. It is happening all the time but so far trying to arrange life has been a bit of a hassle. Like with the sim card that didn’t work after a week of trying, 6 online chats, 2 attempted phone calls from concierge’s phone, 2 promised calls to be made to my friends’ phone that never happened, and 2 days of waiting for a new sim card that never arrived. Amaysim, you did not deserve all that attention, attempt, and aggression I had for you. I hope no one will have to go through the same, when all the apartment ads and bureaucracies are asking for your phone number and you don’t have one.

Attitude.
Attitude.

There’s nothing wrong with hand rolls.

Hariharalaya

So I spent 10 days with complete strangers in the middle of Cambodian countryside, waking up every morning under my mosquito net to a gong at 6.30, calling for morning practice. These 10 days were challenging in several ways, but most of all educating and also very relaxing. I definitely learnt a lot about myself, about the stress modern day life imposes on us, and how to cope with that. Due to my background and experience with yoga, I was struggling mostly with meditation. And I still do! Just keep on doing it, and maybe one day it will click, just like doing a headstand. I met some amazing people and made new friends I definitely hope to see in the future; we connected in an environment where you are fully present without any external human-made distractions, and the body language workshop we had even deepened my listening and presence skills. One day we spent in complete silence; I bent the rules a bit and spent quite a lot of time vomiting my thoughts on paper (music was forbidden, reading not encouraged, but creating something was I guess ok). Perhaps one day I’ll be brave enough to bear with my thoughts for the vipassana meditation, which is 10 days of meditation in complete silence.

Time Asia visited the retreat and wrote   about Hariharalaya. Also better pictures than mine! Some of my highlights besides the above-mentioned were the late evening chill-outs, werewolf-game, contact meditation and workshop on body language. I really also enjoyed…basically most of it. The hardest part was chanting things I didn’t understand and sitting still in uncomfortable positions for long periods with mosquitos feasting on me.

Our big and lovely crew.
Our big and lovely crew.

January (offline) experiences

It’s been way too long, I know. I was completely offline for a respectable amount of time, my computer broke and it is an effort to type anything with the letter ‘m’, so bear with me. I have loads of stories to tell from Asia, maybe I’ll get through at least a few of them. Bear with me for the length!

New day in the countryside.
New day in the countryside.

 

The past month I visited a Cambodian hospital due to a swollen eyelid thanks to a mozzie bite, spent 4 days offline and barefooted in paradise beach, took the infamous night bus to Siem Reap, saw sunrise at Angkor Wat, spent 10 days getting into meditation at a retreat…and a lot other stuff after that. Starting from the beginning: Koh Rong Samloem.

Pier to paradise.
Pier to paradise.

One (private diving) boat daily from Sihanoukville, taking people diving and then to Paradise beach or back to the party buzz of Sihanoukville. I stayed in Koh Rong Samloem for 4 days, diving and not doing much else, and it was sad to leave. I also experienced my very first night dive, which was truly an experience! Due to a malfunction in the BCD I had to change gear with the dive master, in pitch black. Being able to do that made me want to continue my diving to master level! The visibility was pretty bad, so if you are a hc diver I cannot really recommend it. But it is a good excuse to get to the quiet side of the island (only two restaurants and about max. 30 people). Oh and the hospital trip – 50 dollars and completely useless, since it got better on its own. Better to be safe than sorry, though.

Daytime activities.
Daytime activities.

From the Sihanoukville I had to take a night bus to Siem Reap, which was scary after reading all the negative reviews online. Virak Buntham, the infamous company I chose, was only one hour late from scheduled arrival. I had a sleeping “bed”, too bad there was already someone sleeping in it. Apparently this Chilean chilled out dude had taken a few valiums (smart!) before take-off, so when he woke up in the morning he had no idea he’d been spooning with me all night. If you ever have to take the night bus, remember to: 1. Be prepared to freeze to death, 2. Have no wifi no matter what they promise you, 3. guard your belongings with your life, 4. be prepared to be woken up several times for pee stops.

 

THE sunrise to remember.
THE sunrise to remember.

I spent few days in Siem Reap trying to figure out my next moves and why my credit card was not working. I ended up being myself and since I am always prepared, I bought a flight to Australia, and a boat ticket to Battambang town to have something to do after Hariharalaya retreat. If I had regrets, I’d regret both of those choices. Besides wondering about my future choices, during those days in Siem Reap I visited the Angkor temples. Together with few thousand others we shivered in pitch black 5am coldness, waiting for the sun to do what it does every day. It was beautiful. At 1pm, after 5 other temples, I was beat.

Tiny bit of climbing.
Tiny bit of climbing.

The next morning I left for my “enlightenment journey” aka Hariharalaya yoga and meditation retreat in the countryside. The following 10 days were spent completely offline, structured loosely and timed by a gong. Daily yoga and meditation practice, delicious vegan food, some extra activities like dancing meditation, magic show and werewolf game – these 10 days spent together with some 30 people from all over and all walks of life went by fast and ended in tears. Luckily we had our crew re-unite in Siem Reap for a few days; some of the best times I’ve had on my whole trip!

Fire ceremony.
Fire ceremony.
Perfecting the headstand.
Perfecting the headstand.

After a few days of pure chillin’, we took a minivan from Siem Reap  with a couple of friends to go to Phenomenal Phnom Penh, a city I was thinking of skipping due to all the sadness I thought would have to encounter. It did break my heart to see kids begging for food, or selling stuff on the streets. Buying them one meal might help for a day, but there’s always another day, another kid…we stayed at a fairly partyish hostel, but ended up spending most of the time chilling in our (private) room, listening to music. Great food, great conversations – I ended up liking Phnom Penh, but mostly because of the company. I know myself well enough to know I hate change, but this time I really hated it. After a fair amount of tears and a night without sleeping one second, I took a tuktuk to the airport and even tried to cancel my flight. Since that didn’t work out, here I am now, looking to the beautiful city of melbourne from the 22nd floor where I have been staying for the past 3 days. And the story continues…

Culture shock!
Culture shock!