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.
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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.)
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You’ll see remarkable vistas.
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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.
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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.”
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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.
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.
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.
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 Paias seen in the above photo. Absolutely jaw – drop gorgeous scenery and no traffic until the tourists arrive in November.
And 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) Khao Soi soup – my favorite!
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. Go 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. Volunteer to speak English with a class – its great fun and you laugh a lot! Do yoga and have a Thai massage.
Nepal breaks my heart and makes me cry and laugh within the same minute. How?
Well my favorite Grandma in the world lives in the Terai in Inawura.
She’s 90 years old but never complains. She has a lilting girlish voice that resonates with wisdom even though I don’t know what she’s saying because I haven’t learned Nepali but we understand each other.
One day we found ourselves alone with no others around and we were chatting after I made her a hot drink with peppermint and she would say what she wanted to say in Nepali. I would listen to her then I’d talk to her in English and she carefully listened to me. We understood each other but not so much with language.
My son who has stunned me with his generosity and beauty got me there. I’d never heard of this little town but I found myself flying domestic from Kathmandu to get there.
He discovered this village when his friend brought him here to meet his family and now they are my family too.
Wolf brought me to a dance recital he was shooting so I took some photos too. I loved the girls expressions and their enthusiasm.
If you have time, go to Lumbini where Buddha was born. He was not born in India as most people think he was born here in Nepal and you’ll be overjoyed to be in the sacred garden –its far from Kathmandu and if you don’t hire a car you have to take a public bus. Or you could fly.
It’s worth it.
I didn’t feel this love struck after the 14-hour bus ride back from the village of Inawura to Kathmandu but have now realized that driving over rocky dirt roads on a night bus will not feed my sanity or give me easy access to a toilet so I will leave this pass-time to the youngsters who can stomach it as I noticed there were no other people on the bus over age 30.
Perhaps this is a sign.
So if you are going and want to do something other than trek check out the sacred places of Kathmandu, go to the jungle and play with elephants, or just stop and go meet some Nepali women, maybe you can come to the picnic next year on Women’s Day March 8– here is me on the bus to the picnic Wolf Price puts on for the ladies.
We had a blast and my face hurt from laughing all day.
Women Laughing while their Friends are Playing a Game at the Picnic
My favorite new friend who busted out some amazing moves while dancing right here.
Do you want to escape the USA? Or just take a break and feel free?
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