Best of all things are the lights in the sky
but what I am seeking is sleep.
Or not sleep exactly,
because of the dreams and the damage they do,
but places to sleep, on the ground,
in the middles of cities that are strange to me:
cots that cost nothing, whatever the slant,
spots that are mine at nightfall,
favorable places the size of my body,
where grass grows out of the brickwork,
under the stars or the lights of the tunnels.
– Thomas Frick
“Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.”- Mother Teresa
Currently writing from an adorable cafe in Chiang Mai and sipping on the best coffee I’ve had all summer.
Today marks one week – one week left in Thailand and one week left traveling this summer.
Overall, the past three months have taught me more than I thought they would. It has been hard, really hard at times, but also incredibly important. Moments have been so beautiful others have been hard, but I’ve found they have all been equally memorable. At the end of each day, one thing is certain and that is I am incredibly grateful for this summer and all these experiences in places far from home and special.
Lessons Learned | What to pack
This week, I’m packing a backpack again!
But, this time, I’m going some place new for me –>
I’m by far no expert on packing, but I have packed a bag a good number of times and have learned a thing or two along the way. After my year off, I definitely learned a good deal (*thanks to having to pack for extremes – blizzards in the high Himalayas and a summer in India) and have a general idea of how to pull things together and make it work. Plus, a lot of friends often ask about the great packing dilemma!
So. . .
What to pack:
(*Note: Recently I’ve been spending most of my time in warmer climates, in particular Asia, but this is a list of things that can be handy most anywhere. Also, if you are traveling less than a month, consider making do with less, much, much less. You’ll be surprised just how little you can live without! ALSO, remember, traveling can be rough on everything including your body, so travel with things you like but never what you LOVE and cannot live without, because it is almost guaranteed to get lost//stolen//broken//etc. You can always find things you need, yes, even if you are in the middle of what seems like nowhere. Often nowhere is someone else’s somewhere and you’ll make it work. I promise you that!)
+ + +
+ One fabulous backpack and daypack (REI, you rock! My REI-brand men’s pack comes with a removable daypack! Brilliant)
+ One hat (Who needs showers)
+ One sarong// lungi// or large scarf (because it becomes your everything from a scarf, a towel, a blanket, a yoga mat, a skirt, a dress, etc. )
+ One hammock (because nothing is better and they can also serve as a bed *depending on the circumstances)
+ One pair of waterproof shoes (J’adore my $1 rubber flats from Indonesia b/c they’re light and flexible, but I also often travel with my old, ugly, though trusty Chacos too)
+ One pair of running shoes or hiking shoes (Few shoes beat Salomon trail running shoes)
+ One water bottle (and water purification tablets or drops)
+ One watch
+ One film camera and film (*If you’re in to that sort of thing)
+ Camera. Batteries. Lenses. More memory cards than you think you need. Cleaning cloths. Filters. Audio equipment. ETC. (*If you’re a photographer, you know what you need AND a good way to transport everything! I use a Lowepro bag and it’s great, although a little too big for a bus or train! Cameras are always the best and worst part of the experience!)
+ Sunglasses (I travel with two pairs generally b/c they also get lost//stolen//broken AND b/c you can quickly change your look without taking up much space in your pack)
+ Good books (I find the book question the hardest. When I started traveling this past summer, I had nine books in my bag. And read twice that. One great thing about travel, especially if you are ever following the tourist trail is that there are always bookstores. Often these bookstores understand your dilemma and offer to sell and exchange your books. It really is a fantastic system. Maybe one of these days I’ll buy a Kindle, but for now, I love having a collection of books on hand)
+ One travel yoga mat (I believe that this travel mat is one of my best friends in life. It is the inspiration for my practice on the road and I cannot even begin to tell you the number of times it has served as far more than a mat – it is as a great bed, a train seat cover, a cushion on the floor, etc.)
+ A Diva Cup (Because! *That is, if you are in need of something like this)
+ A small, fold-able world map . . . or blow up globes (*it will come in hand. promise).
+ A laptop (*if away for more than a two months. once again though, it’s all up to you. Wifi exists in strange places. But if not, there are often friends or internet cafes not too far within your reach)
+ Journals (Nothing beats a stack of blank white-paged Moleskines)
+ Good pens and pencils
+ Travel paint palette (*if you’re into that sort of thing)
+ Black clothes. Especially black leggins (*Mine got stolen early on in the journey this summer and I missed them terribly).
+ Clothing you like, that is mulch-functional and only a few white things (*White will not stay white. Ever).
+ Travel speakers (*a great way to make friends)
+ An ipod (*full of your power songs//meditation songs)
+ A multifunctional power adapter
+ A pocket knife (*hungry? need to defend yourself on a train in India? You never know)
+ A short length of durable rope (*Clothesline//safety//tying your bag to the top of jeeps//etc)
+ A small sewing kit
+ A pack towel
+ Medicines you might need or want (*Eye drops are always good to have, as well as allergy medicine)
+ Candied ginger (*Amazing for upset stomachs)
+ + +
Most everything else you can get, find, or make!
And get out there!
[Photos: Travels through Bali, 2012//Grace Farson]
Lessons learned | How to procrastinate
Today, all for the sake of avoiding my real work, I:
+ Talked to strangers. Clocked an hour talking to a self-proclaimed “talent scout”
+ Sold people things they didn’t need (*but, nevertheless, convinced them they wanted)
+ I baked. And I baked things I don’t even like . . . and don’t even have the right ingredients for (*see. cinnamon rolls)
+ I didn’t nap
+ I changed outfits. Four times
+ I went to the plant store just to see and touch plants
+ I read some poems
+ I did a few asanas
+ I pretended to read about ecology and ecosystems
+ I read this article. Twice
That’s how I spent my day so far.
And, I didn’t feel guilty about it. Any of it.
[Photo: Kitchen experiments on a Wednesday//Grace Farson]
Lessons Learned | How not to nap
Yesterday, I didn’t learn to nap.
I tried, but I just didn’t work out well.
I did learn about Lobster though so that’s something.
Happy Fall and happy anniversary to TT and Juju! (* I don’t know what number this is, but thanks for loving each other this long and for loving your four kiddos a lot. I like you both very, very much!)
Celebrating fall this way –>
| Falling asleep to the sound of epic rain | Morning coffee |Open doors | Avocados | Grimes | Reading about Urban Agriculture |
Essentially, I’m just ready for it all.
And for this season of rich colors, cool rain, and sweaters.
+ Watch. A gorgeous film by the talented Mr. Bill Pappas.
+ See. Hitchcock-inspired photos by Nicola Kuperus.
+ Listen. Quitter’s Raga.
[Photos: Night at the foot of the Himalayas, Nepal//Grace Farson]
Learning to say goodbye
Today is my last day in Letang.
I don’t really know how to come to terms with all of it. Four of us went back to Little Flowers boarding school this morning and we essentially just listened to Andrew share various Aesop’s Fables (*complete with illustrations) with class.
By eleven, we were done at the school and I asked to hear//record a Nepali story. Four of the older girls worked very hard and went above and beyond what I expected and prepared for me a beautiful story about kindness. They spoke in both Nepali and English and it made my entire being very happy. After, I spent some time alone, walking through the heat and into the woods. I love the woods. I love that they have become familiar to us over the past few weeks and I love that they are quiet.
I remember during my year off, the thing I never learned to deal with was constantly having to say goodbye. I still struggle with it and prefer not to say bye, but rather, “see you later” or “see you” as they like to abbreviate it here in Nepal. Even leaving NC this time around was bizarre, cut short, and anticlimactic in a way.
This time around, this goodbye, it is all different, although still very hard. This time around, I know that I will come back. I love this place and truly do consider this country my home away from home. I know that in time, I’ll come back. I’ll be different and older, but I doubt I will ever stop feeling what I feel for this place. . . It will always be a big part of who I am.
These past two days have seemed like a lifetime. I cannot even begin to wrap my head around all that I have seen and experienced. In part, I feel like a new person. I know it seems dramatic to say that, but in part it is true. It’s truly amazing that a simple day trip to a tea farm in Nepal can turn into a two-day trip in which you see and experience the Himalayas as well as a seven-hour drive that makes you realize the fragility of life. In two days I saw the world, felt more than I could handle, and saw my life flash before my eyes on more than one account. It was one of the biggest adventures and simultaneously hilarious//terrifying experiences of my life. *And much, much more on this is to come!
When we drove back into Letang yesterday after our unnecessarily long journey, I felt as if part of me was coming home. It felt so good to be back in town and to see friends and smiling faces. At the same time, I found it all to be terribly sad. It all served as a reminder to me that in two days time I would be gone. Away from Letang and the life we have established here. From here on out, the next few days will be filled with travel and more adventures both big and small. All things I am very excited about, although I am nowhere near ready to leave. . . but in a few days, whether I like it or not, I’ll be kicked out of the country thanks to an expired Visa.
For now, I’m enjoying this last day. I’m enjoying my commitment and my promise to return, for I know it is not an empty promise, but one filled with truth and sincerity.
And, I’m enjoying this last day for it is a day filled with sad “see you later“s and remembering how good this place has been to me. . .
[Photo: Beyond the bridge, Letang//Grace Farson]