Hawaii Sunrise on Oahu, Lanikai Beach

Suddenly I crashed my motorbike in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

What to do?

Here’s the thing: an accident forces you in a new direction.

I didn’t have much to do, sitting there with my stitches, sprain, and what looked like a disfigured face so I googled Best Beach in the World.

Lanikai Beach, in the video above, popped up. My heart surged.

And it said, go live there. Loud and clear.

This was my first walk to the beach to see the sunrise from my new place.

Lanikai_bartnikowski.com

I was stunned. And it was the first magazine issue I wrote and photographed in Hawaii.

Vagabond, Hawaii Issue

Vagabond, Hawaii Issue

I’d been on Oahu for only 2 weeks. I landed from Thailand and drove straight to the north shore of Oahu, where the Triple Crown Surfing competition was happening in full force. I’d never seen so many thong bikinis in my life.

Surfing_Bartnikowski.com

And the air was so pure that I knew I was home.

I hadn’t been to Hawaii in 9 years. And I’d never been to Oahu, I had been to Maui for my 5 vacations.

My soul said, this is what you’ve been searching for! Fresh air and pristine water.

Slamdunk.

Hawaii, Kailua Beach, Oahu

Hawaii, Kailua Beach, Oahu

It felt like heaven. I hadn’t seen the ocean since Cambodia, 11 months before.

If you go to Oahu you must visit Lanikai Beach, 12 miles west of Honolulu. You’ll be mesmerized by the divine turquoise water and the sugar white beach. It makes you calm and puts a smile on your face for the entire day.

Just thinking about it makes me sigh in gratitude.

Feeling blessed and happy I followed my inner nudges to the heavenly water. You can do it too. The no 72 bus leaves from Honolulu and brings you right to Lanikai Beach, you don’t even have to drive.

Kailua Beach, near Lanikai, Hawaii

Kailua Beach, near Lanikai, Hawaii

Often times the more you re-visit a platiunum place in your stellar journal of world wanderings the more you fall in love with it.

Lanikai Beach, bartnikowski

Lanikai Beach, bartnikowski

7 Things to Never Do On Your Flight

Going to India with my Lunch

Going to India with my Lunch

www.bartnikowski.com

1. Never forget your lunch. You will not find fresh fruit or fresh anything on board so plan ahead. Your pastrami sandwich (I only did this once) may annoy others with its fragrant aroma but you won’t have to wonder if you’ll get sick from the scary Styrofoam contents of an in-flight meal. Singapore Airlines and Japan airlines are the exceptions. I have never eaten better food on an airplane in my life.

Food items that travel well: nuts, cheese, apples, and dark chocolate

I always get hungry when I arrive at the airport as I’m finally relaxed after frantically packing. I usually eat my lunch in the waiting area before boarding.

2. Be warm enough – dress in layers. Wear your heavy clothes, and strip down if it’s too hot. It’s always too cold for me.

3. Do not get irate when they try to take your hand luggage away, ask to talk to he manager as you have sensitive video/photo equipment and don’t want anything damaged. He may ask to inspect your bag and then you smile engagingly, and produce your professional photography card. If you don’t have one invent one. This is a secret and I shouldn’t even be telling you this.

4. Earplugs. I don’t mind squalling babies at all. I mind hearing someone else’s idea of good music, plane sounds, loud talkers engaging in annoying conversations when you are trying to sleep in the middle of the night on a 20-hour flight across the Pacific Ocean. Loudmouths in any nationality take heed. Just close your lips and let us sleep.

5. Never feel you are bothering the person sitting on the aisle when you ask if you can get up every hour. Too bad. Sitting in coach is ultimate confinement. Get up, chat, move around and have some fun. I always end up meeting some kind people at the toilets in the back of the plane.

6. Never forget your reading material. Your computer, Kindle, and iphone will run out of juice and you’ll need a real magazine to get thru the hours. Pony up the cash and just do it. Its fun to see real photographs printed on paper that you can touch.

7. Never look at the clock. It’s just like being in labor to have a baby. My midwife covered up all the clocks in my house with infant size pampers when I was in labor and it helped enormously. If you don’t know what time it is you can’t complain how long it’s taking.

There are many things you can do on a 19-hour flight. Eat, read, chat, rest, meditate, watch films, walk around, write, or make a new friend.

What ways have you endured, I mean managed long flights?

What I’ve Learned After 7 Years of Full-time Travel

 

bartnikowski.com

How did I get here in Chiang Mai, Thailand drinking smoothies every morning being happy and grateful to be alive?

I didn’t listen to people telling me I was nuts. Who said, “You shouldn’t go to that country because you can’t be sure of being safe.”

30 countries later I’m still going strong!

My eyes have been opened so wide it almost hurts to see the world without sunglasses. The light is so brilliant — its hard for me to see that at one time I didn’t have this life.

 You can have it too. I know what you’re thinking. Actually we think too much. And you can think yourself right out of doing anything if you give it too much of your attention.

1. Attention is a gift.

That’s the first thing I learned. Whatever you set your mind on blossoms and takes off.

Works the same with negativity and voices in your head telling you can’t do something. If you listen then you can’t do it. Put your attention on what you want to happen. Act as if it all ready is happening. 

Say you signed up for a Women’s Only coach on a train in India and you get on the train at 2AM and find out your coach is full of only men. You either leave or accept it.

They didn’t listen when I told them to stop smoking and cut the chatter crap so I could sleep but thats another story.

2. Time is not the hours on the clock face.

Time is your life span from birth to dying. What do you want to do with your time?

I want to travel and see the world. Work and play all over the globe.

Take the first baby step and the universe opens up to you. I didn’t believe this either at first but it miraculously happens when you decide to walk towards your Big Dream.

3. Money is attracted to boldness and magic.

Yes you can be a location independent entrepreneur. You can do your job on the road, you can teach English in almost any country on earth and get paid for it, you can have an online business, and you can teach belly dancing. I teach photography all over the world and write books.

And I have a magazine in the itunes store Vagabond Travel Photography Mag. Discover the world and learn how to take Amazing photographs Go see it here.

4. The Unknown is Your Friend

I used to plan too much. “Honey why can’t you meet me in Colombia in February – how come you don’t know when you’ll be there?” I said to my son who has been to 50 countries. I’ve only been to 30, I gotta catch up.

Now I know why, because I’m not planning either.

Less planning is more fun.

5. You never know what is around the next corner or who you’ll  meet today changing your life instantly. Today you might decide you gotta go to Bali to work on your surfing skills. I don’t stay on the board too long so I need practice.

Or I need to photograph Ladakhi people high in the Himalayas and how they live life, or teach yoga to women in Nepal living in mud huts. Or go live in an igloo, ashram, temple, seaside bungalow, or tent.

esheybaby22

And you can do it!

 

Your mind is malleable. It may be more flexible than your body. Get inspired by people who are living the life you want to live and open the ethers in your soul.

Queen.Dancer.bartnikowski

How do you do that?

 

You stay fresh, eat fruits and veggies, relax and be like a kid. Open to everything but if it feels off you walk away.

 

Being Happy Inside my Skin. This may be the title of my next book.

 

And then being so happy and grateful that you can give things, time, love to others.

That’s the secret to success. It’s not money or big achievements and awards.

I’ve done a lot of things I set out to do, but with many more I want to discover, I expand every day and want to leap into the fresh waters of the unknown; I see that time is this — it’s what our spirit loves doing and being. It could be meditation, travel, teaching but whatever it is the message is live today like you will die today. Because we will die. And it could be today so lets live at a higher exalted octave than we ever have before.

1. Be inspired by the birds singing. I hear them right now off my terrace in Thailand. They know how to fly. So can we.

2. Sleep enough – then your skin looks better and you have energy.

3. Move that amazing body of yours – yoga, walking, surfing, swimming, skateboarding just do it. You don’t have to motorbike across 4 lines of roaring traffic praying today like I did. Go walk around a lake with no cars intruding.

4. Take steps towards your dreams. Don’t give up.

Your new mantra: You can do it, you can do it, and you can do it.

Thank you for your enthusiasm, attention, and beauty, I am grateful to all you darling hearts – you have been there for me, and I couldn’t have done it without you.

Love, Dream, Discover,

Mary

10 Things to do in Thailand

DCIM109GOPRO I am back in Thailand after 8 months of traveling in Cambodia, Myanmar, Nepal and India. I am falling in love with the Land of Pad Thai, Dragon Fruit and Orchids. Absence does make the heart grow fonder. Here is what I love to do in Thailand: Motorbiking in the hills of Pai as seen in the above photo. Absolutely jaw – drop gorgeous scenery and no traffic until the tourists arrive in November.

Eating! 

fruitshakes22sushisashimishake22And the best part? You won’t gain weight. No bread or cheese, mostly small portions of noodles or rice with spicy meats/fish and veggies. Barbecued fish is sold on the street for $1 to $1.75 US, what’s not to like? I was looking forward to cooking but since stoves are not standard issue in apartments I just walk out my door, hop on my motorbike and today for lunch I had roast duck with rice and it was crazy delicious. $1.50 US. My neighborhood in Chiang Mai is full of wonder and yumminess. Sap Li! (that’s Thai for very delicious) KhaoSoisoup22Khao Soi soup – my favorite!

Commune with an elephant. VagabondCoverIssue1Read my Thailand issue of Vagabond in the itunes store for your ipad here.

Go see temples in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and in Issan: Wat Suan Dok in Chiang Mai and there is a Vegetarian restaurant in the back. DCIM109GOPROGo to the markets – if you can stand to be shell-shocked by consumerism. But its all in fun and entertaining to watch other shoppers buying bags of loot. And its mostly all cheap too. You can always stop when you are getting overwhelmed. But you never know when the perfect pair of sandals will fall on your head out of the sky or you will just get so hungry you have to eat again – take your pick.

Make Friends. JolieMary22 englishclasswithnong22 Volunteer to speak English with a class – its great fun and you laugh a lot! nongmaryyoga22Do yoga and have a Thai massage.

Enjoy the flora and fauna.

Discover waterfalls and hot springs in Pai.

Write me at [email protected]

Web site: http://bartnikowski.com

See Mary TV

ADDpink flower in paiLove from Thailand!

Vagabond Mary

 

10 Reasons to Quit Your Job Now

My New Backyard in Belize

10 Reasons to Quit Your Job Now

The Dalai Lama said, “Asians don’t know how to worry.”

He must have noticed that people in the USA are about to have heart attacks from thinking too much.

I have the solution. Quit your job and leave the West behind – spread your wings and fly!

Here’s my list to inspire you:

1.You’ll get younger (not older.) Studies have shown, keep learning

and you won’t age. Those brain cells need revitalizing.

2.Stress kills, quit, and find something you love

3.Go live in another country. It costs less than staying in the USA working.

For example:

My rent per month in 2012 in all the countries I lived in this year:

Belize: $450 for a shack – it was on the Caribbean Sea, folks!

Guatemala: $300 for a lovely house with private terrace overlooking Lake Atitlan utilities included.

Tulum, Mexico: renting a clean basic room on the Yucatan a few kilometers from the sea for $20 per night or if you like rustic, $8 per night for a hostel or camping on the beach, same price. I liked the beach until I got rained out.

Half Moon Bay, California $600 for 2 weeks for a small 2-room house walking distance to the glorious beach.

Bangkok, Thailand: fully loaded hotel room – AC, own bathroom, king-size bed, wifi in room, proper air flow, quiet and all for $21 per night.

Loei, Thailand in Issan. Room in guesthouse: use of kitchen, wifi in room, fan only, kind family, shared spotlessly clean bathroom, $6 per night.

Chiang Mai, Thailand: Guesthouse $12 per night; wifi in room, AC, fridge, good bed, Quiet.

Pai, Thailand Best Deal of the Year: $200 per month (incl. utilities) for my own house in Pai with a breathtaking view of the sunset, quiet, mountains, hot springs, and clouds floating by (no wifi in the house, no AC, I loved it!)

So the high cost is no longer an issue.

$200 US dollars per month folks!

$200 US dollars per month folks!

4. Don’t think about it – just dive in. Luangpo my meditation master and spiritual friend in Loei, Thailand says, “You thinking, thinking, you aren’t in Thailand. Look at heart, look at body.” It’s all about the moment.

Anything you have to think about for too long usually doesn’t work.

5. You discover the wonder inside you by slicing off the past.

There is nothing familiar: no anchors to hold on to — you are free floating.

I’m not saying the past is bad. Just that the Past is Over. The Present is where it’s.

6. What do you live on?

You live on your wits.

You can volunteer and receive room and board

You can give massages, cook, teach yoga/meditation, English, you can do it!

I currently, teach photography, yoga and meditation, write and shoot for Vagabond Magazine, and get hired to shoot photographs.

Set up a business for tourists – guiding, teaching.

Run an Internet business

Do the business you are doing now as a consultant from Asia, Belize, or Fez, Morocco.

Teaching yoga on the Caribbean in Belize

7. “I’ll do it next year”never happens.

Once you do it – you will wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.

Teaching Meditation in Pai, Thailand

8. OK you do have to pay back your bills before doing it. So did I.

Now I have one bill: for my storage unit back in California for my photography/art stuff, china dishes from my Mom, glassware and artifacts.

9. Being free is a choice. Choosing to be happy is also a choice. I choose happiness every day even when I’m feeling bratty.

Santa Cruz, Guatemala terrace of my home overlooking Lake Atitlan

10. Invest in your self. Rather than the stock market or a house.

Give your self the option of re-inventing yourself. Only you can do it – no one else will do it for you.

Dharmasala, india View from my bedroom

Jump in! Don’t think about it. Bathe in the sweet waters of wonder and awe.

Write and tell me what you feel and how you will implement your new plans!

Me, teaching yoga in Belize

See my Photography

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Vagabond Travel Photography Mag for your iPad

Kitten Heels in Kathmandu, Adventures of a Female Vagabond

My Life as a Child

MaryAge4

I wondered when I would leave home to explore the world but I was only four years old.

I had to wait until I was at least nine.

So I just kept riding my orange push-pedal fire engine around the block knowing that one day I would fly free.

For fun, I would walk downtown to the city library and get lost in the stalls reading books and smelling the rarified air of literature. There was adventure in those books. Wild wonderful global explorations that called to my heart.

I’d be exploring when I got taller. But for now I could read the book, Mary Poppins and how she floated from cloud-to-cloud and visited worlds I could only imagine.

Someday I would discover the world just like her.

Arrive when and where I wanted to then float off to a new place.

I brought home armloads of books and was determined to read every book I found interesting. I started reading before kindergarden because I wanted to discover the worlds beyond my own boundaries of Canandaigua, an Upstate, New York, Finger Lakes town.

Canandaigua was bursting with colonial houses and wide front porches, full attics and large basements. It was the land of snowflakes freshly falling on every Christmas morning guaranteed. Sleigh rides, snowball fights, and building forts in the heaps of snow.

It was a good place to grow up.

But it was so cold my face froze one winter and I had a large patch of red on my cheeks when I drank alcohol for years. After I moved to the tropics my face returned to normal.

My cheeks had thawed.

I knew I wanted to be an artist but kept it to myself in my medically inclined professional family.

My bestfriend Cherie and I hatched a plan to run away on a motorcycle with one suitcase bungeed to the back – off we would go in to the rarefied air of world exploration.

Today I bungeed my rolling suitcase to the back step of a red truck – a pickup-like affair transporting people in Thailand to their destination for cheap – 50 cents a ride. They did not charge me the inflated tourist price so I gave him more than a 100% tip after he helped me move my luggage in the pouring rain off the truck.

The drivers never do that – I’ve been in Thailand 6 times and that is just not done.

So I have arrived!

I just realized right this minute that my deepest dream I held in my heart as a child has come true.

If you want to see my gallery of photography click here

Me with my sisters - I am on the lower right showcasing the black poodle on my new dress

Me with my sisters – I am on the lower right showcasing the black poodle on my new dress

The Astonishing Ingram Family

 

Following After Trek

I met the Ingrams at my favorite restaurant in Pai, Thailand. I marveled at how happy the family was with two young sons eating lunch together, before I said anything. Then we started talking and I was astounded by their courage and heart-breaking story.

You can’t miss this book, by Jarrett Ingram, whenever I find a book that I simply can’t stop reading I have to tell everyone and Following After Trek is it!

Don’t miss it as this book will make you laugh and cry and give you wisdom on living life fully and totally from your heart. Jarrett’s experience of losing his son, Trek, their third child is told in vivid detail and I felt spiritually recharged and revitalized after reading his story based on the true life facts.

I have never met anyone like the Ingram Family. Overcoming their hardship; they are shining their love out to the world and we are fortunate to bask in their wisdom and grace.

Reading this book is like being with the Ingrams and experiencing their remarkable spirits.

Get the book here on Amazon, hard copy and for Kindle, and on Jarrett’s site.

www.jarrettingram.com

link for book on amazon-

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0985595833

Read Chelsea’s blog Our Sonny Life on their epic journey.

www.oursonnylife.com

chelseatrekjarrettfamilychelseajarrettkids22

Creating and the Creatures Who Live Here

I arrived in Thailand and plunged into creating Vagabond, my online magazine about Being Free, and Discovering the World as a Global Nomad.

Apple Computer approved it today!

Thank you Steve Jobs, and all those artistic engineers and creatively powerful people who work at 1 Infinity Loop in Cupertino (Apple headquarters.) Talk about creating!

It’s available in the iTunes store for iPads, Vagabond, a free app under newsstand.

Check it out!

Thailand the land of milk, honey, and mangoes gives me creative goosebumps.

I create my way out of any excuse I come up with here – I just do it.

In this tiny hamlet atop a mountain peak, Pai, sings with expression and communication.

Here’s me in my bamboo and coffee office.

Image

I’ve been in Thailand 6 months. It’s not that easy to stay here so long. Why?

Here’s what I was required to do:

  • Go on a visa run to Burma by bus ( took the entire day)
  • 2 visa extensions after riding over the highest mountain pass in Thailand (twice) on a puny motorbike. I did not die in that ditch I landed in – a kind truck driver pulled me out.
  • http://youtu.be/CI74Rgu6law Burma/Myanmar Border Crossing

But it was worth it — I moved into my cottage in the woods here in Northern Thailand in Pai, a breathtaking village that sweeps you off your feet with its astoundingly vibrant scenery, tons of hot springs, and sparkling waterfalls to boot.

You can get a Thai massage here for $7 or less, and eat scrumptious food for a few dollars a meal in a restaurant – serious. 2 reasons I love it here.

So what’s it like to create with the creatures who live here in my home?

Last night I heard a scritch-scratching noise near my actual head and turned around to see the underside of a 12-inch gecko 10 inches from my eyeballs on the other side of the screen window. That’s why it sounded so close; he was hanging out with me but I didn’t know it.

I guess we’re getting to be friends.

Just the other day I was wondering where King Kong gecko had gone – he had not shown up in a few days. Last I saw him he was parked behind my refrigerator making a racket trying to catch bugs. He was shaking the Frigidaire!

A pang of hunger arose and I bolted to my hanging bunch of bananas from the ceiling in the kitchen and there was my abominable gecko just inches from my fingertips staring at me with his bugged out eyes.

He didn’t even flinch when I grabbed the banana from its bunch of 8.

He just stayed there clinging to the top of the wall with his rubber-cupped feet.

I marveled at how I don’t scream any more when I see him.

He stays out of my bedroom and has the full run of the kitchen when I am sleeping. I don’t know what he does in there but he has not eaten anything that I know of.

This is all very colorful for the creative process. I may be editing my writing and hear geckos chirping mixed with crickets singing. Yes geckos like to congregate on my screened windows and get close to the light rays coming from inside.

It’s like the Jacob Javits Convention Center in NYC outside my bedroom door when I go to the bathroom at night; they are surrounding the ceiling light pow-wowing.

I like being inside my screened domain as bugs and lizards cannot find me in there and no one slithers across my computer screen either.

So my creative process goes like this:

Wake up in paradise hearing birds singing their hearts out.

Smile.

Turn over and suggest to my body that it sleep longer.

Most of the time get up and turn on the electric teapot.

Chinese or Thai Tea in hand I am delighted by the light show on the treetops while butterflies flitter around.

Meditate and chant then walk to my yoga pavilion down the dirt driveway. There is no asphalt here and I like that. The dirt driveway is between two rows of frangipani trees. Then I get to the yoga pavilion and I am rewarded. I didn’t ditch yoga I am doing it every day oh yes and I feel like an eagle looking out from its nest.

The mountain scape is intoxicating.

Here is the view from my front porch in Pai:

And a sunset view from the same porch.

Then I do my email, as the yoga pavilion is my home office.

What do I do after yoga? I eat a hearty breakfast in my cottage on stilts.

See me in my kitchen cooking here:

http://you.be/outTblup4CeKv0

After showering I jump on my motorbike to go to my real office to “work.”

A plump pillowed coffee and bamboo covered lounge area in the village – that no one seems to know about but me as now the owner is leaving me there solo while she slips out to do errands.

I lay in a hammock and do my writing/ photography editing/ more email /posting.

I am learning a language that I never knew before. And I’m not talking about Thai.

Internet marketing is another language for me – and its not as sexy as Italian but OK the creative process is not comfortable. I learned that from Billy Wilder that crazy wild amazing director from the 40’s and 50’s who wrote and directed intelligent comedy i.e. Some Like it Hot.

I learned how to use the magazine platform that they said was easy but it was not easy.

I am learning and ding-dang it I needed to learn how to use tools I never knew I needed before.

It isn’t comfortable to stretch past pre-conceived notions but somehow doing it here with the geckos and spiders (I forgot to mention them) and birds and butterflies isn’t so bad. In fact its downright invigorating when I consider that afterwards I can go to the hot springs and wallow in sacred spring water from the earth’s crust healing me with heat and effervescence.

So there were a few times I felt apprehensive but I let myself feel that and my acupuncturist from Morocco noticed. She needled me with an infusion of confidence.

She charges me $10 a session – that is far less than what she charged the people she used to treat when she lived in Manhattan and had clients at the World Trade Center.

When all the online language and things that were supposed to be “easy” to do were actually hard I questioned why I jumped into this ocean of new things. But I kept swimming and now the magazine is done. I created an app!!! And Apple Computer is selling it for me! OMG

I do not have an iPad yet and having recently learned just what an app is I feel like I’m thriving in the right direction. Now the momentum is going and I am letting it take me.

So the moral of the story is (remember that cartoon show about Mr Peabody; they always ended it this way?)

Keep going even when it doesn’t feel so hot. Keep going even when you are treading water and this dang program won’t let you delete text or move something simple in your graphic layout.

Just get up and go outside and say hello to all the critters who may be clinging to your house, notice the spider who is weaving a web under your window, say hello to the baby gecko who lives in the tree trunk post holding up the entryway stairs – notice the large winged insects who bash themselves against the lights and end up kicking their insect legs in the air as they can’t turn over again.

http://youtu.be/oWGLt2zuCGA Spider and Bedroom Chat

I pick them up and send them soaring again. I freed a butterfly from a spiders web today and it swiftly flew off happily. I was elated. So what that the spider missed a meal?

Take a minute and be grateful that you have the moments to make this mountain out of – you know that phrase making a mountain out of a molehill?

Yes I see it as making a mountain out of moments in your life that you want to express to the world, the heavens and the ethers so you do it and let the day become what it will. And the rain and the clouds and the sun shining through rainbows lights up your heart and you keep on.

Check out my web site to stay current with me and get a FREE e-book

on Secrets of Stunning Photographs

this is my life’s work in 40 pages.

Love and Peace, Mary

How to Travel Solo and Be Safe (for Women and Men)

Trust your gut. Your body knows before your mind does. Listen. If your body tells you not to go down that street in the dark – don’t. I’ve stopped my friends from walking down a street with me in Bogotá because it felt off.

Don’t get so caught up in checking off the sites to see that you forget to listen to your gut. If you listen and act on it, your gut gets stronger and gives you more and better advice. Follow it.

Solo Travel Tips:

Don’t say you’re traveling alone or where you are staying to all and sundry.  I was followed once in Ecuador. Why are they asking you? This is a personal question and similar to asking a person’s age in the first 2 seconds of meeting them; you don’t have to tell them. Invent a partner if you like – if you’re feeling the least bit anxious.

Taxis: keep your luggage next to you on the back seat not in the trunk. If there is a dispute with the driver you can open the door and leave with your stuff. I had to do this once when it was clear the taxi driver didn’t know where my guesthouse was located after he assured me he did know and expected me to pay for his blunder. I got out of the car with my luggage. Drivers encourage you to put it in the trunk so they have you hostage in case there’s a problem.

Leave your passport with hotel or hostel and carry a copy.

Picnic at markets if the food is too pricey or makes you puke. Fruit, cheese, and

olives work for me. Add a few hard-boiled eggs and I’m set.

Eating out solo: I love to listen to people talking and watch the passing scene. If you like bring a book, do some writing, or be more daring and ask to sit with others. In many countries this is encouraged unlike in the States where it is frowned upon.

Be careful who you are intimate with. It may be a lark for you or him, but feelings

can be hurt.  Be responsible and don’t lead someone on making him or her think its love. Be careful dating, you don’t want to trust someone too soon. I may be the only person who left South America with the same camera I started the journey with. Expensive items have legs and can exit quickly.

Learn how to greet people rather than just intrude on their space. Manners are important and people in most countries outside the West are taught to say hello, Buenos Dias, etc before asking questions or blurting out comments.

Assume that everything will go well for you. It works until it doesn’t then you must learn deep breathing and how to stay calm. I do kundalini yoga and meditation every day – it helps.

Decide to be happy. Leave your Western ways in the West, shed your pre-conceived ideas when your passport is stamped and enter a new country with a fresh perspective.

There will be moments of culture shock.

It happened to me yesterday. I hired a Thai tech guy and he wanted me to pay him by depositing the money in his bank account. For this I had to pay extra even though I have an account there too. I will continue to do business with him so I said, I’m going to close my account, having all ready decided to do so earlier.

The bank teller said, “You can’t close your account here – you have to do it in Chiang Mai.” Four hours away from here. How idiotic is that?

So I asked to see the manager, “There is no manager here,” the teller told me, smiling. In Bangkok Bank, the biggest bank in Thailand, with shiny countertops and bonafide tellers, I am hearing this.

I soon calmed down after talking to my friends from Belgium and Italy about life here. They have businesses in town so they are used to the mafia malarkey mentality. I had an iced coffee and remembered I am in a foreign country, I’m a guest here; this is not my home country. I am visiting until I buy land, then it will be my country too. Oh right, I can’t buy land here, only leases.

The most important thing to remember is to have fun, be safe, learn something new, make friends, and take photographs.

Flying free of the West solo takes practice but you’ll get the hang of it. Soon you’ll be smiling and feeling drunk on your own freedom – let it happen.

In 6 years of world travel I’ve been robbed only once and “lost” one camera, gratefully without bodily harm. Read or hear the audio on the incredible journey from the rooftop of the world in Nepal to the magnificence of Machu Picchu here:

Kitten Heels in Kathmandu, Adventures of a Female Vagabond

How to Travel Solo and Be Safe is excerpted from my new magazine:

Vagabond, it will be available soon in the iTunes store for iPads.

Mary Bartnikowski

http://www.bartnikowski.com

Discover Mary’s worldwide adventures on Youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/user/zestyzippy?feature=mhee

Pai, Thailand, Life as a Vagabond

 

My home in Pai Thailand

 

My home countries are Thailand and India with side dishes of Nepal, Laos, and Bali.  I feel happy inside my skin in the East.

I like being in the mountains of Thailand now. It’s a blend of primitive, sacred and wifi. Kindness and Buddhism prevails. No one swears or gets angry – no entitlement issues. I’m less and less interested in going back to the States; it doesn’t soothe my soul. But I do have spiritual teachers in California. I could visit them and do some good – maybe I will set some talks up before I return so I can share what I have learned here in Asia with my fellow Americans: meditation, yoga, letting it be, and living in the moment.

Outside the USA there is more chance of letting holiness permeate the soul without all the commerce, playboy porn star standards of beauty and an over reliance on automobiles and pretense. We’ve gotten caught up in stuff and greed and showing off and I include myself in that as when in the States there is very little emphasis on the sacred.

In Bali it’s a full-time job to make offerings and go to temple – my friends in Bali said, “We spend 60% of our income on temple offerings.”

In the States it’s far different – people want to hook up with money and prestige.

When I was 20-nothing I wanted the strange and fascinating. I was looking for what I have now. Freedom to explore. And time. I wanted to roam the universe.  And I needed silence. Silence to hear what I felt; to let my soul and spirit give me its wisdom.

I am letting my sense of wonder and awe guide me without a grand plan. My decisions are made for me – they just happen without me having much to do with it. When I get caught up in planning I’m tense – should I stay or what about this other country should I go there? So now I am practicing no decisions and I like it.

Don’t be in a hurry to decide, just let things happen in the moment.

I had planned to go back to Bali right after I left the island but every time I set up the ticket online to fly there I could not press the submit payment info – my finger wouldn’t let me. OK, lets see what the universe has in mind for me and here I am in Chiang Mai having a great time writing and living in a little white room with an overhead fan and a view over an emerald green expanse of trees outside with birds singing. All for only $6 a day including wifi. I’m happy.

I didn’t have a grand plan to visit Chiang Mai but there I was in Bangkok living the high life for $15 a day in a hotel room with my own refrigerator and bathroom and I thought nope this is too much to pay I am heading out to the country and hopped on a 12 hour train to get to the mountains, here in this hick town blended with temples. It’s not posh or pushy with tons of used bookstores with English books! It would take me forever to get thru them all or at least two weeks so I am staying here and paying this low amount of rent for comfort and cleanliness.

I must be evolving – the last two nights I was woken up by other guests coming home at 3AM and I didn’t get mad or get out of bed to tell them to shut up. I just turned over and wondered if my earplugs were nearby but I never even put them in. I just fell asleep again after they stopped talking.

Then at 5:30 AM I got up to do yoga and meditation – if they heard me I don’t feel badly. We all gotta live and let live.

Maybe I am getting a tiny bit less self-righteous.

So I’m not reading the paper, watching the news, or in any way paying attention to the western world – no media crap – I can let my heart tell me what to do without the overtones of CNN and Hollywood.

I don’t know who those people are on the cover of People magazine.  They all look the same. Same smiles, same sculpted bodies, whitened teeth, and blonde hair.