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.
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
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
Suddenly 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.
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.
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,
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
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.
There’s no way to not fall head over heels in love with Mount Shasta!
It has gorgeous lakes, pristine air, and the freshest water I’ve ever tasted.
Lake Siskiyou, www.bartnikowski.com
And another thing I loved was Shasta Abbey, a Zen Buddhist not for profit, Abbey that rocked my world and made me see that I need a sangha, a group of masters who study, live, and teach Zen Buddhism, meditation, and how to deal with everyday life, that is the best part of the practice.
Shasta Abbey, www.bartnikowski.com
Seeing Mount Shasta every morning, noon, and night soothed my soul and the sweeping and meditation helped too. They don’t have leaf blowers so one day I swept around the temple for 2 hours. That is called work meditation.
And boy did I see work differently after sweeping so long. And it felt good.
I was contributing by doing a simple task that I enjoyed. And I paid attention to each brush of the broom so it leads you into a meditative state. And there’s no sitting.
And I re-connected with my dear friend Jim.
He’s a pure mountain man. Love him.
Stewart Hot Springs, www.bartnikowski.com
I will go back to Stewart Hot Springs, the oldest hot springs in California as soon as I can, dunking into the river was invigorating after sweating in the hot steam room stoked with a giant wood stove inside the bath house.
Mount Shasta is not an easy place to leave. It’s slow, snowy, and sensual with the change of seasons, and the smaller population, only 4500 residents.
Shasta Abbey, www.bartnikowski.com
My favorite job other than walking at the lake was dusting the golden boxes of ashes of the dearly departed at the Abbey.
The temple was my favorite place to be other than staring at Mount Shasta.
We weren’t supposed to talk so I did a lot of staring.
Shasta Abbey Temple, www.bartnikowski.com
Another cool thing was re-connecting with my wonderful friends and clients. My clients became my friends so I am eternally grateful for the strong the connections and love that I feel here in California.
Mary and Lisa, www.bartnikowski.com
One of my favorite moments was surprising Lisa at her house when she didn’t know I was visiting.
Showing up on a dear friend’s doorstep, highly recommend it.
I did manage to eat a lot more than I usually do and will get right back into swimming and eating barrels of fruit as soon as I return to Kauai.
I feel heavy.
Eggs Benedict, St. Helena
But these eggs were yummy, thank you Dan!
Loved Dan’s living room that looks out onto a sweet fountain to greet you when you arrive.
St. Helena, www.bartnikowski.com
Didn’t think I’d see a castle in California but here it is just north of St. Helena.
Winery in St Helena, www.bartnikowski.com
And a poetic looking fire engine in Calistoga.
Indian Springs has the oldest pool in California but it was closed for renovation. They spiffed up the grounds and added a new restaurant, Sam’s Social Club. Great wine and food, check it out.
Indian Springs, CA, www.bartnikowski.com
Whole Foods, www.bartnikowski.com
One thing Kauai doesn’t have is a Whole Foods store. But here in California Whole Foods is everywhere. Love the flowers, the food, and the people watching.
Tomorrow I go back to Hawaii! I’m ready to get back in my bikini and get to work.
Shooting, writing, and teaching. Yes!
Grateful for my life, friends, and family. Blessings to the world, all of us, and new ventures on the horizon.
One question I am asked weekly is, what’s it like to live in Hawaii?
So I shot and wrote a new issue of Vagabond, Live in Hawaii, on this sparkly topic.
Many people want to move here but just don’t know where to start.
My advice is: sell everything, get your own business going or try to get a job before you come, and be open to have your life change dramatically.
You’ll encounter unusual food, daily rainbows, a variety of cultures, and stunning beaches. Those are reasons enough for me to live in Hawaii. But check out an island before making it your home. Don’t do what I did which is come to Oahu after never having been on the island.
This style is not for the faint of heart. Do a discovery trip first and then decide.
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.
I was stunned. And it was the first magazine issue I wrote and photographed in Hawaii.
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.
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.
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
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.
Discover the best island in the world. Relax, rejuvenate, and re-set your life.
Escape your jam-packed life and luxuriate in one-on-one private photography instruction with any camera you have.
Breathe pristine air, see astounding emerald green cliffs, swim in silky turquoise water, and experience rainbows almost every day. There’s one in my backyard right now!
Soothe and ignite your spirit with me, a Kauai local, guiding you to discover the potent power places on island.
Yes being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the furthest land mass from any other chunk of land, has its secrets.
Kauai is a blended holiness of earth, sea, and sky.
Allerton Garden, www.bartnikowski.com
What’s Not Included:
1. Crowds of people.
2. Bad food experiences (I know the best places to eat from surprisingly simple locally sourced food to lavish top notch restaurants.)
3. No wasted time doing things you wish you hadn’t done.
You’ll see remarkable vistas.
I guarantee you’ll fall in love with Kauai.
Yoga and Meditation with me on the stunning property of the Islander Resort where your gorgeous studio is located.
Wake up and do yoga and meditation with me every morning, or sleep in after sweet dreams in your ocean side luxury studio. No driving, I come to you.
Daily private shooting guidance with any camera you have.
Learn how to use the specific camera you bought.
Relax under palm trees on a drop dead gorgeous beach. Read a book, get a massage.
Eat at the best places with guaranteed fresh food, your culinary masterpieces are a foodie’s divine experience. I know where the best restaurants and local dives are that will make you swoon with a satisfied smile on your lips.
3 nights accommodation in a luxury studio on the ocean with your own private lanai. Hear the ocean waves all night long.
Every day, you’ll experience enchanting power places that will open your heart and as Shirley Wu, a recent private retreat participant has said below, “It will change your life.”
Get a new lease on life
Private Retreat Waimea www.bartnikowski.com
Experience the magic of Kauai and see your luxury studio here
Have the best sleep of your life hearing ocean waves all night from your luxury ocean side studio with private balcony overlooking the turquoise sea.
Your Studio on the Sea www.bartnikowski.com
Who Am I?
I’m an award-winning photographer, author of 4 books, certified kundalini yoga teacher, and worldwide educator.
After shooting professionally in Palo Alto, the heart of Silicon Valley, for 29 years, raising my family, and leading programs at Stanford, Apple, Intel and in 32 countries my home is now on Kauai.
Yes, I sold my belongings in Palo Alto, California in 2009 after photographing 722 weddings, families, babies, angel investors, and authors. I kickstarted my global life teaching, shooting, and writing.
Meeting saints, sages, the Dalai Lama, and remarkable people worldwide taught me how to change my life and stop worrying.
Yes I teach photography and yoga but the true essence is this, how to have more happiness and peace in a have not world.
I love what I do and strive to empower you to have profound adventures and live life full throttle at the highest octave.
3 Day Retreat for you solo or with your friend/partner, includes all one on one private photography guidance, 3 nights in a luxury oceanside studio with private lanai being lulled to sleep with the soothing sounds of ocean waves, and morning yoga/meditation under magnificent palm trees and a sapphire blue sky.
$2000 includes 3 nights accommodation
Private and exclusive for 1 or 2 people
$4500 includes 5 nights accommodation
Dates Available November 2016 to May 2017
Your retreat is scheduled at the best time for you. What dates are best for you?
Call 808-542-4566 and talk with me.
Or schedule a phone conversation at a time that is convenient for you and I’ll call you, to answer your questions.
“It was the best vacation of our lives! I never would have gotten the photos I captured without you.”
“It transforms your soul.”
– Shirley Wu
“I can’t wait to come back, my husband and I loved it!”
See you in Paradise. Book now as these spectacular oceanside units are taken fast!
If you want to learn more, get in touch now before 2016 steam rolls into 2017.
Here’s what you’ll discover here…
Suddenly you’ll be swimming with sea turtles, or simply luxuriating on spectacular Anini Beach on the north shore of Kauai. Here I am enjoying the crystal clear turquoise water with wild and free turtles, below.
I swam with sea turtles here yesterday. Don’t wait. Join me on Kauai – you may never want to leave.
Private retreat shooting in Princeville www.bartnikowski.com
The flora and fauna is off the charts astounding. They don’t call Kauai the Garden Isle for nothing.
You get 3 days of a customized program:
You decide what you want to do without an ironclad itinerary.
You want to go to the longest beach in Hawaii? No problem, we’ll take the day and go see this world treasure below that the Dalai Lama says is the place where souls leave the planet and you may feel like you’re in heaven here too, I do.
Polihale State Park
Or you may want to see what National Geographic says is one of the top 50 tours you have to go on in the world, Allerton Garden, in the National Tropical Botanical Garden. This is where the former Queen of Hawaii personally gardened and where Jacqueline Kennedy retreated after JFK was shot.
This a power place extraordinaire you’ll feel it in every step you take.
Now that I am immersed in no electricity, no TV, no wifi, and no cheese either I have a different perspective.
I can’t dash out to get a cup of brewed coffee right now.
I have to walk far into the sunshine on a winding path through rice fields with buffalo plowing the earth.
I don’t want it that badly.
When I am in the USA I’m reminded that Results are what count. There is no process. We have to succeed and be successful Right Now. But try telling that to butterfly pupas – they are on their way to being butterflies. They will break out and fly.
We forget that.
Before I got my first publishing contract for a book I wrote, Everyday Naked, I wrote for 5 years and didn’t tell anyone about it. I just wrote.
But then I wanted to show my writing to someone other than my dog. So I put together a book proposal and went the Maui Writers Conference where I met my publisher.
Interesting, how a few people reacted when I told them about the book being published. Most people were happy but I also heard, “Did you know someone?” or “I didn’t know you wrote,” which means I didn’t know so how could you be an author all of a sudden.
Because it wasn’t all of a sudden. No one saw me in my room writing every day being in my pupa stage. When it was time to bust out I flew out of my cocoon.
But I was in there for 5 years writing every day.
When I wasn’t writing I was making a living, raising a son, and being married.
Now after a bazillion years of meditating, (OK it’s been 25 years) I still am learning how to do it. Maybe when you try it you’ll get to a more profound level in less time but I’m only just seeing that some how what I was doing before was daydreaming while meditating and I’m very good at daydreaming.
So I’m still in my pupa stage when it comes to meditation. And mindfulness. But one thing I am learning is to be more gentle with myself, and less goal-minded which is difficult to drop. Why?
Because we are supposed to be PhD’s in everything we attempt and this kind of logic takes a while to drop. So thinking of pupas helps. Every one of us is a butterfly in the making. We’re all in this together – we’re all pupas.
It’s easier for me to see this in India where I can happily live without a shiny car and pricey clothes.
You don’t have to go to the Himalayas to see this but it sure helped me to go without my pillows and modern appliances to see that we’re all the same.
And that’s why when the Dalai Lama is out teaching in the world he doesn’t just talk to the luminaries like Richard Gere, he talks to the hotel staff, the old people waiting for hours to catch a glimpse of him, and to the babies who don’t even know it’s him. They’re just playing outside while their parents wait for him.
I’ve seen him do it. And it makes my heart happy. He’s doing it in the above photo, reaching out to us real people on the way to his teaching in India.
I was blessed and grateful to be at the teachings this year in Dharamsala and to have a press pass to photograph the Dalai Lama. The best part of being there was that he directly teaches me to be happy being a pupa, not just a butterfly.
By his example watching him interact with people he shows how to Go Slow and savor the moment.
He reaches out to people and holds their hands reminding me to do the same.