Nepal, Inside the Jungle, Chitwan National Park

Sauraha, Nepal

Sauraha, Nepal

I’m sitting in a lush garden in Sauraha, at a restaurant that was open at 7AM. With wifi and espresso. This. Never. Happens. Here.

So I’m eating my fried eggs with yak cheese (locally made) in this stunning botanical landscape when I hear from one of the servers that rhinos show up here quite often.

We’re talking wild rhinos. Not the kind at Disney Land. In this garden.

The actual location of the photo above is a mere few feet from the edge of the jungle so elephants, tigers and rhinos often roam over that line.

It’s their home not ours.

I was instructed last night by a long time local who was born inside the jungle before it was a national park that if you’re chased by a rhino you have to run away zig zagging as they like to run in a straight line.

Important fact to know. 

Last time I was here I was almost crushed by a few elephants who were fighting. I don’t want to die on my vacation. Sometimes things are too exciting.

Here’s the link to the near crushing. On YouTube.

And more of the twin baby elephants that were born here the last time.

But the most fun thing to do is hang out with the villagers.

First visit to the village of Dharmpor in Nepal

First visit to the village of Dharmpor in Nepal

 

I was sure I didn’t hang out anymore but I discovered that this is what many people do here. Rest, relax, and don’t kill themselves working. This may be just for the men, the women sure look like they’re working non-stop.

We had an amazing day yesterday working on the land that is being developed for Beyond the Four Walls, which many of you know empowers women. Little do most people know, Wolf Price, the founder has been here in Nepal for 10 years and it really takes a team to get anything done. The fact that plumbing and electricity get installed at all is a huge undertaking. The workers don’t always know how to do it even when they say they do. So you have to know people and get help from others in your network.

This is not easy, it is similar to any business, where you have to cultivate a network of people who you really like and want to spend time with. To make your businesses evolve.

I’m learning tons, and yesterday I pulled rusty nails out of recycled bamboo to be used to build a fence, everything gets used here.

I’m also eating things I can’t identify but it sure tastes good.

If you want to know more about this social venture and donate check it out here.
www.b4wnepal.com

www.bartnikowski.com, Nepal, Chitwan Park

www.bartnikowski.com, Nepal, Chitwan Park

www.b4wnepal.com

www.b4wnepal.com

Remarkable Nepal

 

Nepal_bhaktapur_flowersSuddenly after 33 hours of plane travel I’ve arrived in the lap of the Himalayas, Kathmandu Valley.

I’m staying in Bhaktapur the most ancient place in the country surrounded by intricately carved wooden temples. One of the best parts?

Walking in the square buying flowers to do love offerings with all the other Hindus, at 6AM.

I love the people here. They are the kindest people I know. Their smiles come in spades.

Truth.

How to act like a local? Smile a lot and pretend you aren’t from half a world away. It usually works.

But I tried a different tactic on the pack of dogs outside my window rabble-rousing last night. I shouted from the 2nd story window where I sleep for them to cut their shit and shut up. They listened. The howling stopped.

This New York girl is not going to lose sleep.The temple bells start ringing 10 feet from my window at 5:30AM there is no sleeping after that.

But there is a cacophony of local color outside my pad at the Shiva Guesthouse, the oldest guesthouse in Bhaktapur where the management knows me and allows me to put my yogurt in the refrigerator with the Cokes for sale.

But don’t tell anyone.

Bhaktapur_www.bartnikowski.

Bhaktapur_www.bartnikowski.

After walking around Bhaktapur getting my “curd” which is yogurt, and there is no better curd made worldwide, you’ll drop your Greek Fage and never eat it again if you get to taste King Curd.

Pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top and that’s breakfast.

Yesterday and today will be helping out over at the women’s shelter, check it out here,

www.bartnikowski.com

www.bartnikowski.com

This lovely girl has been living at the shelter for a year. I met her in 2013, in her village, a 13-hour drive from Kathmandu. She was in a domestic abuse situation and is now free. I’ve never seen her happier. She’s going to school and helping at the shelter. She learns at lightening speed and I’m standing in her glow watching it all.

Wow, this is how to change lives, one person at a time.

$700 a year is all it takes to feed, educate, and house one girl in Nepal. This is what Beyond the Four Walls is doing now.

Do you want to come and stay with us?

You’ll have a Nepali immersion adventure and a low cost amazing place to stay.

Your small room fee pays for the costs associated with running Beyond the Four Walls, a foundation that empowers women, providing employment, housing, and education for women who want to change their lives after being abused and neglected.

Girls and women learn to make empowered choices and not fall prey to sex slavery and early marriage.

Wolf Price, Founder of Beyond the Four Walls

Wolf Price, Founder of Beyond the Four Walls

Yesterday we cleaned up rooms and got the kitchen in order for the cafe that will re-open soon. It’s a garden cafe at this location, before it was on a busy street so this new place will be more serene and provide smoothies, premium coffee, lasis, and hamburgers. Stop by and see us. It will be up and running after we get the water system fully installed.

Namaste!

Make a donation, no amount too small, even $10 helps. http://til.tt/8qrA

cleaning up and organizing at www.b4wnepal.com

cleaning up and organizing at www.b4wnepal.com

Best Beach in the World

lanikai

Lanikai Beach in Kailua, Oahu

How did I get to live on this incredible beach? I googled it.

Where are the most mesmerizing beaches in the world I wondered, 2 months ago, in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Lanikai Beach in Kailua popped right up. It’s official. Its been voted on by global citizens and travel warriors; Lanikai is in the top ten of divine shorelines in the world.

I’ve traveled the planet in 31 countries and this is the best beach, the one I live 2 blocks from right now.

No matter how I wake up in the morning, on the wrong side of the bed, happily, or didn’t get enough sleep; I open my eyes and remember where I am.

I am walking distance to nirvana.

So I literally jump out of bed and get into my bikini, throw a dress over it, and walk or bike down the hill to my personal portal of the divine.

Lanikai means heavenly water in Hawaiian. Boy did they get that right.

kailuaBeachPark.bartnikowski

Now I’m spoiled for life. Nothing compares to it. This morning I could not even wait for my cup of strong coffee I bolted out the front door knowing I could get an Americano at the old style Hawaiian market, the only store within walking to this hallowed and holy spot on earth.

It slips my mind a bit how luscious it is until I round the tennis courts and see the 10 billion dollar view cresting in front of me. A swath of cobalt blue with emerald green lush islands beckoning good morning. I quicken my pace or I slow it down. Depends on the moment.

The salty air calls to me.

I relax into my bones and my spirit is renewed. You can’t look at that view and be blasé.

It’s drop dead gorgeous. Nothing matters now. Only the crisp air warmed by trade winds, and the salty sea for swimming. Our local Lanikai beach with no facilities, no showers, no toilets, no cars, and no loud bad taste music blasting in your ear drums while people blow smoke in your face and yell at each other. No that does not happen here.

So that’s why there are 2 to 4 million dollar homes here. And most people rent out there homes to make a good bit of money. I’m renting a room now in a lovely townhouse overlooking volcanoes, trees and the golf course where Obama golfs for goodness sakes.

People are affected by the gorgeousness. We say good morning to one another. When I’m driving, other drivers let me in the line-up if there is a backlog. Politeness is off the charts here.

It must be because of the heavenly nature of the sea, the fact that turtles like it here and are regularly spotted, paddlboarders, babies and lovers frolic in the turquoise pristine water.

Every morning I swim at Lanikai, after doing yoga and chanting. I feel blessed.

Maybe I did something right in another life to land here.

This place is better than the photographs reveal. But if you can feel the energy in these photos and it tells you to come then you must, you will never be the same person again; this will change and renew your mind and soul.

Don’t think about it just do it.

Check out my perpetual travel of the most astonishing countries in the world here

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

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Kitten Heels in Kathmandu, Adventures of a Female Vagabond

Secrets of Cambodia

Mary with New Friends at OuMalay Guesthouse, SiemReap22Secrets of Cambodia

I extended my visa for another month, as I just couldn’t see myself crossing the border into Thailand. That’s the closest border to me so it would be easiest to get to – but I will be bussing to Bangkok for my flight to Burma later this month.

Burma. It is a place like no other place. Happy I’m going.

Have heard it’s challenging to find a guesthouse to stay at but if it’s a problem I will throw myself on the mercy of a temple and ask to stay with the monks and nuns. Surely they can relax the rules for me.

It’s a simple life here in Siem Reap. I have a richer life in some ways in Cambodia than I did in Northern Thailand – renting a small house in the mountains with a large view of the sun setting over clouds, hot springs, and waterfalls. My own 5 star view.

Angkor Wat, Sunset

Angkor Wat, Sunset

Here in Siem Reap, down the street from the 8th wonder of the world, Angkor Wat, I feel the mystical vibrations emanating from one of the holiest places on earth.

My jaw dropped when I saw this.

My jaw dropped when I saw this.

My favorite temple in Angkor Wat is Ta Prohm. Yes it was featured in the Tomb Raiders but its been here 800 years longer than when Angelina Jolie discovered it

My favorite temple in Angkor Wat is Ta Prohm. Yes it was featured in the Tomb Raiders but its been here 800 years longer than when Angelina Jolie discovered it

And I am paying $200 per month for my own room with bathroom.

No kitchen. But Ou Malay Guesthouse (with no sign) lets me put my fruit in their fridge. And I go to cafes and restaurants to do wifi and commune with my work. Yes it would be easier to have wifi at home but you know its been fun to get up and leave every morning – wifi is available all over Siem Reap – all you need to do is sit down and order a glass of carrot beet juice or a coffee or something.

The only thing is the music.

Today at the Blue Pumpkin where I was eating my dark chocolate one scoop of ice cream nestled on a sugar cone the music was on my nerves as it was Thai folk music and I dislike that kind of noise. It is a repetitive soap opera style of clanging banjos and primitive stringed instruments. I can’t hear my own voice in all that din.

At least I get electricity.

I can plug my computer into the wall here! Grateful for that. My appreciation for Power; the kind that comes from an electrical outlet has soared since leaving California.

Another thing:

Last week I was looking to get my hair trimmed and I went to a beauty salon and it was $15 to do a 5-minute job. That sounded too USA for me – nope.

So I went to a neighborhood salon where there was no English spoken and guess what, it was only$2 for a hair trim so I gave her a dollar tip and she did a fine job – and that was a good wage – it literally took 10 minutes.

Check out my Youtube videos on Cambodia here

And I will not pay $4.50 for a tiny jar of Skippy peanut butter either. Just because us foreigners like the stuff they jack it up in price –  I will buy pure peanuts and be happy with that. Besides the jars are always dusty.

Walk into any wat and usually you can chat up the monks

Walk into any wat and usually you can chat up the monks

Her family had the coldest juiciest coconuts in town. Every day I would visit them and they split open the coconut and stuck a straw in it for me - sublime.

Her family had the coldest juiciest coconuts in town. Every day I would visit them and they split open the coconut and stuck a straw in it for me – sublime.

Honoring the King's Death

Honoring the King’s Death in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

I met this little girl at Orchid Bungalows where I stayed for 6 days on Otres Beach

I met this little girl at Orchid Bungalows where I stayed for 6 days on the beach

Clean and serene - go here instead of Sihanoukville but don't tell anyone so we can keep it special

Clean and serene – go here instead of Sihanoukville but don’t tell anyone so we can keep it special: Otres Beach

Currently my favorite thing to eat is:

Fresh Pommelo  – it’s a gigantic grapefruit grown here in Southeast Asia — I eat it every day. Dazzlingly delicious. I’m eating it right now.

My diet has changed living here – it’s heaps of apples, bananas, dragon fruit, mangoes and mostly pommelo. I ate catfish barbecued from a street side stand and it was scrumptious but I need to do my pommelo run now.

So… come to Cambodia and discover her secrets:

The coast is not that developed outside of Sihanoukville. Otres Beach is the gem in the crown of the Southern Coast.

Kampot is small-town wonderful with its pepper crab, sunset river views, and friendliness. You can jump right in the river – it feels clean and silky.

Here are my picks for you:

Cozyna Hotel in Phnom Penh on the riverside.

Daughters of Cambodia – massage/mani/pedi for women only, lunch, wifi, AC and crafts for the rest of humanity. It’s a non-profit helping girls steer clear of human trafficking – support them.

Kampot – many nice places to eat – best prices on lodging and great value in Cambodia.

Otres Beach – Papa Pippo’s Guesthouse on the best part of the beach – authentic Italian food because real Italians run it – I met Papa Pippo himself and he is pure Italy – check it out.

Siem Reap: Rosy’s Guesthouse, Ou Malay Guesthouse – Check Out the Family I Stayed With Here, Peace Café

Eat at: Central Cafe on Pub street – Café Mie (see my video) – super good fresh fusion Cambodian/European food. A Cambodian chef owns and runs it – young whippersnapper who is enthusiastic and European trained – go there now.

Enjoying the moment – it’s a practice.  Gotta go get that pommelo now.

Big Blast of Light and laugher coming your way from Southeast Asia.

Angkor Wat soaking up the Love and Beauty