Year away

A year ago I packed my stuff in boxes and showed them to my dad’s tiny attic, piled all that I thought necessary in my old backpack, and left for a trip that was intended to be 2 months of yoga in Bali, then a bit of Vietnam and back home. A year later I did not do yoga but instead started surfing, ended up going to Cambodia too, and have been living and working in melbourne for 8 months, and a myriad of unexpected things have happened.

New skills learned: Surfing, driving a scooter, scuba diving, selecting cacao beans for chocolate production, letting go of things, proper headstands, knife skills, how to survive alone in tight situations (ie you’re not allowed to enter a foreign country and you find that out at the airport, or how to escape a motor vehicle accident situation in another…or how to change the scuba diving BCD vest in pitch black darkness in the middle of the sea)

Gili Trawangan, Christmas with friends.
Gili Trawangan, Christmas with friends.

Appreciation for things: Sunshine and warmth, fresh fruit pretty much straight from the trees, sea and marine life, nature, bicycles, people’s help, good company, trial periods at yoga studios and gyms, exercising, work, having the opportunity to do basically whatever, learning new and growing. New friends!

Bali style breakfast by the pool.
Bali style breakfast by the pool.

Best foods: Crate cafe breakfasts, Gado Gado and fresh mangos in Bali, tuna steak at Christmas dinner in Gili, rice paper rolls in Vietnam, the delicious meals at Hariharalaya in Cambodia. Smashed avo and poached eggs at Organica cafe in melbourne, Hummus from South melbourne market. Drinkwise: Fresh coconut water and coffee coffee coffee.

All the (vegan) rolls.
All the (vegan) rolls.

Accommodation: 3 Bungalows in Bali, one private villa. One month in the same hostel in Canggu. Hostel in Vietnam, one night in a “family stay” in the mekong Delta, and another one in a border town hotel. 4 hostels in Cambodia, one night in a bus, 10 nights on a retreat. (Luckily) I’ve only spent time in 1 hostel in Australia, and times of homelessness I was able to rely on the help of 5 friends.

Pretty much deserted island in Cambodia
Pretty much deserted island in Cambodia.

Love life: I learned that the Finnish word for love, rakkaus, apparently sounds like “crack house”. Fair enough. I’ve had more action this past year than ever before, mostly because I’ve been open-minded and just gone out. I have definitely learnt more than I thought I would have, and even though I got sick of dating and lost my faith in finding “the one” (or even someone I could imagine spending a whole weekend with), I am now closer than ever to realizing my feelings and where I stand in life. Winning!

I made someone popcorn for their flight.
I made someone popcorn for their flight.

Dealing with health: Eating probiotics, eating local. 2 Doctor visits, one dentist. In Cambodia I got bitten by a mosquito in the eyelid on the day I was supposed to go on a scuba diving trip to a remote island. Early trip and waking up the only doctor of the hospital to get cream I didn’t end up using, luckily that was nothing more serious. In melbourne I went to a GP to see if I have sinus infection (I didn’t), and had my wisdom tooth pulled.

Holidaying in Byron Bay.
Holidaying in Byron Bay.

Public holidays: I have pretty much skipped every holiday; Christmas I spent on a beach having a barbecue, New Years I was at another beach, Easter I only hid eggs for my housemates but that was it…I have enjoyed the Queen’s Birthday, and I understand why Anzac day exists, but having a public holiday for football and horse races is a bit strange to me. Nevertheless, I’ll take any reason to have a special day!

Halloween pumpkin at work.
Halloween pumpkin at work.

In the last year I have had more experiences I would never have had if I had stayed home, and going out of my comfort zone has proven worth it and beyond. I can’t wait to see what the next 12 months will bring along! And in the sad poor pictures front, by the end of the month things will look brighter and I will be able to write my hometown with a capital letter again! YAY!

I love love love that animal suit.
I love love love that animal suit.

Chim chil pong

No, the title does not refer to slot machine sounds even though slot machines can probably be found in some chim chil pongs. The term refers to a Korean spa, which in my case was Dragonhill Spa in Seoul.

Soaking, steaming and chilling for 24 hrs? Sure!
Soaking, steaming and chilling for 24 hrs? Sure!

This particular Chim chil pong was apparently one of the best in Seoul. It consists of separate bathing floors for men and women; in addition to 3 different temperatured baths, there was ginseng, herb and seasonal herb baths, massage bath as well as additional beauty services such as massages, body scrubs and hair removals that could be purchased for extra cost.

Directory of Dragonhill Spa
Directory of Dragonhill Spa

When entering the spa, you get clothes for the public area, and a locker key that works as money inside the spa. After soaking in the baths and enjoying the saunas (infra red and one that had mist spraying from the ceiling), most people go to hang out in the arcade, public space, cafes and various hot/cold rooms that are located in the common areas.

Christmas feeling and sleepy people
Christmas feeling and sleepy people

You can spend 12 hours in the spa with no extra cost, so people go there to hang out and spend time with family, sleep after going out to party, or to go on dates (some of the small rooms seemed to be very nifty for that purpose). Our initial plan was to sleep in the spa but since it was crowded (Saturday night) and home was near, we opted for a good solid sleep, though there was also a sleeping room for women only.

Spa tombs
Spa tombs

Going to chim chil pong is definitely worth it, since you get to experience the way Koreans spend time. It is a cheap option for hotel (12,000 won: approx. 10e) and definitely interesting! If you intend to stay for longer than 3 hours, I suggest bringing a book or something to occupy yourself with. During the wee hours of night, the atmosphere might get gloomy.

Koreans seem to share the Japanese ability to sleep anywhere, anytime
Koreans seem to share the Japanese ability to sleep anywhere, anytime