Tag Archives: Meditation

A thousand and more steps…

My mother always used to say that you can ‘walk off’ your sorrows. When I was angry or agitated she would tell me to go for a walk or a run because it would clear my mind.

I hiked up 3142 meters to the top of the Gungung Agung volcano in Bali and I sure had many steps in front of me to put order in to my thoughts. After the last, very intense 3 month in Indonesia, I had a lot that was going through my mind.

My guide, ‘Madé’, picked me up at ten o’clock in the evening and at eleven pm after signing in with the police (something that you have to do when you go on this route), we were standing on the bottom of the holy volcano. ‘Madé’, a local from the small village Besakih, looked exactly like I pictured a man from the mountains in Indonesia. His skin was wrinkled and dark from the cold air and the sun from the mountains and he was rather skinny. It was dark and all I could see would be my next step that the light of my head torch lit up for me. I have never been hiking in the dark and since in Indonesia the tracks are not loops like in Europe but more a vertical straight line to the top, you are forced to trust your guide a 100% and go literally one step at a time. You wont be able to look 3 steps a head of you nor can you see the top of the mountain, all you see is your next step and knowing that eventually if you keep going you will get on top!

I thought about this while I was taking my next step, how wonderful it would be if it would be so easy to apply in your life. But often we see the whole picture and not only the next step. We stress our selves out and we get frustrated with the current situation.
The path became quickly quite steep and I had to concentrate not to take a wrong step or I would have fallen in to the deep dark. Questioning the security and yet not surprised about it in Indonesia, I did wish at times that there would have been a rope to secure me to my guide. Putting aside this thought very quickly I put my focus back on my next step and ‘Madé’ and his life. I was amazed how many times a week he is doing this hike. Three to four times a week he is hiking up 3142 meters while smoking the strongest unfiltered cigarettes I have ever smelled in my life.

We took a break and he handed me half a clementine with a chocolate bar. ‘Madé’ asked me where I was staying in Bali and I replied – in Uluwatu. He lifted his eyebrow to a very specific expression that in my eyes was a bit belittling. He thought that I was doing the right thing by coming to the mountains then in his eyes the true Balinese people are in the small mountain villages. He started to explain to me that the people in the bigger areas or the cities have become greedy and lost track of what is important in life. “Here in the mountains people are genuine and polite.” – He said. And it was true. At the bottom temple where he worshipped his god and the mountain we met a group of men who were just about to enter the temple. The way they were greeting each other was so beautiful genuinely honest, that I couldn’t stop staring. Their voices were warm and kind and their faces seemed open in a way that you could see all the way down in to their souls. I have never witnessed anything like it. I was surrounded from this bubble of pure peace. It was beautiful.

Meanwhile the route has become quite hard and we reached already 2500 meters. Going from sea-level to 3142 meters is noticeable on your lungs. I started to breathe more heavily and kept wishing I was more in form. On the other hand it cleared my system, my over active brain started to slow down and listen to the breathing and my footsteps. It was calming and it almost had something meditative to it. Suddenly it felt like I was walking off everything that happened in my last four and a half years. I went back to the day my father passed away and never before I saw that day so clear as on that night on the holy mountain. At some stage it felt like my feet were moving by it’s self and I had time to focus on my thoughts. Step by step I walked through that horrible day and tried to come to peace with it. I saw myself standing next to that hospital bed again and I believed to hear the machine that helped my father to breath. I remember how cold and dark everything around me felt that day, but then something changed – I used to see my father lying there in pain but this time I saw him there sleeping and thankful for not having any more pain. Even though there has not one day gone by that I haven’t missed him dearly in my life, my heart started to relax . As if I could feel his presence on this holy mountain, I felt that he was with me every step of the way. He was an optimistic human being and had the ability to always see the positive. And there I was walking, my steps became heavier and slower, and I almost wanted to give up and turn around as I heard my dad say: “You can do it Sarah, you are going to regret it if you turn around now!” And he was of course right!

I thought about my past relationship, about that man I spent many years of my life with. I started to see the good and was thankful for what we had, but it also made a lot of sense to me that our paths have gone in different directions. I never held a grudge against him or towards what happened but I used to think I wasted my best years staying with and holding back for man who in the end betrayed my believes. Now it all started to make sense to me. I wouldn’t be here today if I wouldn’t have gone through all of these experiences in my life and I wouldn’t have the knowledge that I have today.

We got higher and it was freezing. The three sweaters that I was wearing clearly were not the right choice for these conditions. By now we were somewhere close to 3000 meters as ‘Madé’ suddenly decided to take a break and have a rest. I thought he meant a five-minute break but he had more a 30 min nap in mind. He packed out another jacket, thick and warm, a cap and gloves, and lied down in the corner of a little cave and went to sleep. Jealous of his jacket I stared at him, shivering on every single part of my body, thinking ‘you must be joking’! Since he took the whole space that you would be hidden from the freezing wind I didn’t have much more of a choice than to huddle down and trying to give my body parts as much heat from my own body as possible. I learned my lesson to never go so unprepared on a hike like this again. The alarm went off and ‘Madé’ got up and asked me if I was ready to go up the last part. Believe me – I was ready!

The last part was very steep and slippery. The sun was about to come out any second and I was able to see the top summit. It seemed so close and yet it didn’t seem like we were getting any closer! How much I know this feeling from my life and my work! If you keep working for a goal and it seems to be right there in front of you, you can almost reach it but just not yet, it can be frustrating. Having this thought I wanted to get on top of Gungung Agung like nothing else!

And there it was – my reward – the sky started to lid up red, purple, orange and blue. The deep colours got stronger and stronger the higher we got. I almost started to run up at the end because I was afraid I couldn’t see the full sunrise. Again I was afraid I could be missing out or late. But the conditions of the mountain forced me to go at my guides pace and so I followed him step by step, taking the time to let this magical view that nature has given me, sink in. As we reached the top I was speechless! I have never seen such a view – such a sky – such colours in my life! I forgot about being cold and tired, it was like I was revitalised by nature and its beauty.
‘Madé’ brewed me a coffee and offered me Balinese biscuits that his wife made for me and I gratefully slurped my hot coffee with a huge smile on my face.

As I stood alone with ‘Madé’ on top of Gungung Agung, watching the sunrise and being totally at peace, I felt like someone pushed the ‘hold’ button. Time seemed to stand still and it was like the universe gave me the chance to make a choice right here right now about my self and my life and in which direction I want to go. I waited a while with releasing the ‘pause’ button – I wasn’t ready yet. I still had a view thoughts running through my mind and I felt that this was one of these moments where you can get a major insight about who you are and what you want for your self.

After leaving my known life behind me, and going on this journey, I went through many stages. Doing things I have never done before, interact with completely different people and living life from one day to the other I did find out a tremendous amount about my self. I started to respect my self again and more importantly love my self again. I had moments where I thought I will change my life completely, live in the wild away from everyone and everything known to me. But the funny thing about finding yourself is that sooner or later you understand who you are and you come to terms with your past and it all seems to make sense. As much as I loved my time living from one day to the other I knew right there, that I had a purpose and that it was time for me to get back on it. The theatre, the literature and the arts as well as the interaction with people who want to make a difference were calling me. I knew more than ever ‘who’ I was and that I want to go back to the theatre, writing and work. I knew that I want to become a mother one day and show my children that where there is a will there is a way. Anything is possible!

Away from everything and everyone I was happy and I knew that I have learned from my mistakes and experiences in the past. Often we try to be someone else for a loved one or we hold back on our own potential to fit in, to make it work, or to make someone else feel better about them selves. We all know that we can always change to become the best of what we can be, but it has to come from your own within and because YOU want that change.
Right there, I saw my potential and I knew that I will never hold back or be someone I am not for anyone anymore!

I have been told a couple of times in my life that my expectations are enormously high and that it is impossible to live up to them. Well I believe that many people do not out live their potential and settle for less. But are they really happy? Scared of ending up alone or out of the ‘group’ which gives them security, they try to hold on to something that often holds them back. I love people and I believe that we all are beautiful individuals with a positive centre and the capacity to make a difference in this world no matter in what way. It is only the question if you have the guts to go against the stream or if you want to flow with all the other fish in the river so-called life.

I released the ‘pause’ button and the sun fully came out and lid up the whole sky with light. It was a new day, a new beginning. I knew in that moment that my life will take a major turn soon. Not sure how or in what way exactly, but I knew that as long as I will stay true to myself and my values I will be happy and on the right track.

It was the perfect ending to my time in Indonesia and the start of a new chapter in my life. I was ready to descend Gunung Agung. I took one last look over Bali to Lombok and even Java and said goodbye for now.
Walking down in full day light I caught my self looking too far a head of the track and I stumbled because I was rushing. I tried to remember what great lesson I just learned a couple of hours ago. Step by step and with patience having the big picture in your mind and you will eventually get there!

Sunrise on top of Gungung Agung

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Seminyak and the villa Paris

The moment arrived that the swell was going to be so big, that it was not possible for me to surf at Balian beach and I needed to get my visa sorted out anyway. What a perfect moment to do that.

I met Paris in Balian and she not only offered me a ride a long but also to stay at her place while I had to fix my visa situation. We got along really well from the first moment we met. It almost felt like we knew each other since many years, so I gratefully accepted her invitation.

As we got to her house I couldn’t believe my eyes. I stayed rather in very basic places while traveling through Java and there I was standing in the entrance of a fantastic villa with pool. What a luxury!

The next day we went together towards Keramas where the Oakley Pro contest took place. The chance to see Kelly Slater surf with all the other best surfers was a must for me. Finally, I could realise another dream of mine. It was mind-blowing to see what they are capable of. It certainly was a whole different category. On the second day of the contest I finally fixed my visa and left for Kuta to find my own new board. What a hustle that was. I probably went in to every surf shop there is in Kuta, but finally I found it – my own board. Happy and so excited I couldn’t wait to try it out! I went to a beach in Seminyak, which was not the best decision since the surf is not the best there and the amount of rubbish that floated by me every other minute was absolutely shocking. It is sad how people here do not have a sense of what this does to the nature. They throw everything in the sea and on the ground as if it was their bin. If they are continuing this habit, this beautiful country will soon be destroyed!

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Paris showed me a bit around in Seminyak and I felt a bit overwhelmed with all the people who surrounded me. Back in civilisation, back in a city, it took me a while to accumulate and I made for the first time in my life the experience that I missed the small place where there where not many people, no clubs, no big hip bars just nature. Since I didn’t bring a big wardrobe along I felt totally under dressed between all these stylish girls. I am used to live in a big city and I know that kind of live like my backhand, that being in that situation was extremely new to me. I could tell that my travels have made an impact on my personality and me.

I didn’t feel like staying at this hip fancy place and wanted to walk along the beach at sunset. Already putting my feet back in the sea calmed me down. At another beach bar that was more relaxed and less hip, started Paris to tell me about her life and I couldn’t believe her life story. What an impressive life she had and the amount of suffering she went through moved me to tears. It is funny how you attract the right person for what you have to process for yourself if you travel alone.
Traveling alone is already very intense and you get to know yourself in a way that you couldn’t imagine before.
I believe I had to meet Paris to get to the next point of my self-discovery. I wasn’t aware of it at the moment but looking back now it all makes a lot of sense to me.

It was during that time with Paris that I hit that phase where you feel extremely alone and lost. I couldn’t understand why it was happening to me at this moment. I had a new friend in my life and wasn’t actually alone. I stayed at a beautiful place and was back in an environment that I should be more used to. The fact that I have changed and was surrounded by known circumstances may be provoked all this to happen in that particular moment.

I came to realise that I am no longer just an actress or the person I thought I was. I suddenly realised that there is so much more in me. I think I wasn’t aware of my own potential before, or may be I was scared of it . . .

Paris and I decided to go to Canggu beach, which is a 20 minutes drive on the motorbike from Seminyak up northwest. I wanted to go surfing and she wanted to have a relaxing day at the beach. It was early morning, when I suddenly had a breakdown. Tears started to roll down my cheeks and I could feel the ground underneath me opening up to this big black hole. I felt like I was going to fall and I didn’t know where. Paris took me in her arms and congratulated me. I looked totally startled at her. A bit embarrassed about the fact that I was crying over something that I couldn’t really explain I asked her: “Why are you congratulating me?”
She said: “Because you are making the biggest gift to your-self. You are freeing your-self from your old box and you opening up to an even more authentic person. I call it ‘peeling an onion’! The closer you get to the centre the stronger it gets. You are getting to know yourself on whole new level. This experience will teach you more than you ever can study for your whole life and it is a gift. It is scary because you can’t yet see what’s on the other side, but give it time and be patient and the reward will be tremendous.”
Blown away by her words and her empathy I thanked her from the bottom of my heart and we left for Canggu.

As soon as I was in the water surfing my mind calmed down and I forgot my sorrows once again. I felt so much better afterwards and sank absolutely tired in to bed. It all got even better after the next day when we made a day trip to Uluwatu in the south. What an impressive sight that is. You can stand on the cliff and have the perfect view of the surf. It was too big for me so we went to Padang Padang and I surfed there and as well as at Impossibles. I got totally smashed by a couple of waves but I kept going out and wouldn’t give up. Absolutely powered-out and feeling great we ended our day with a fresh red snapper right at the beach in Bingin.

I could feel that I reached the next phase and also that it was time for me to move on. It was the perfect ending to this very intense time with Paris. I loved it so much down in the south that I decided to leave for the next view days to Uluwatu.

Seminyak was great but I couldn’t wait to leave the city again.
The next morning I packed my bag, but my board on the surf rack of the bike and with some upbeat music in my ears and a really big smile, I couldn’t help but love the feeling that I was back on the road!

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Balian heaven

From Pacitan I left at five in the morning to Yogykarta to catch the next bus to Bali. I felt the excitement getting bigger and bigger. I was dreaming of Bali for so long and I couldn’t wait till I finally get there.

As I arrived at the bus station in Yogykarta I felt a bit lost. There were so many buses and so many bus companies who all wanted me to go with them of course. The company I finally decided to go with convinced me with the fact that there was a toilet on the bus and no stops but one to get dinner. Looking back I still can’t explain to myself how on earth I could have thought that this toilet was even remotely neet. I must have just really wanted to get there as fast as possible. Once I saw the toilet I barely drank anything for the next 15h just to not have to go to the loo. The whole thing peaked, when a local passenger decided to not only leave the lid to the water bucket open but also the door to the toilet. Since these roads in Indonesia are not really smooth, it was only a question of time till the water would slop over and make its way with all the dirt and germs of the toilet in to the bus. I crouched my self on my seat as much as possible together and decided to ignore it and went to sleep. As I woke up we were just about to go on the ferry and the sun was about to rise. It was beautiful to be on the ferry and watch the sunrise. New day, new Island another adventure!

Ferry to Bali

Ferry to Bali

Not long after we drove off the ferry, I could see the difference in culture and land. The colours were even brighter and flowers everywhere. And since Bali is mainly a hindu culture you could see everywhere altars and the difference to Java was enormous. I fell in love with Bali immediately, but it got even stronger once I arrived in Balian.
I hopped out of the bus and there was only a small sign pointing towards Balian beach. Glad to be out of the bus and with a wide smile I made my way towards the beach.

Maddy saw me walking down the road and immediately asked me if I am looking for a place to stay. Taken in by her positive energy I said: “Yeah, actually I do!”
She owns a small surf shop where you also can buy and trade books. Maddy is from Australia and lives since forty-one years in Bali. In Balian it’s self since two years. The place she took me to was so beautiful I was lost for words. Four little bungalows and a pool, two minutes walk away to go surfing, what else can you ask for. We met friends of hers who invited us for coffee and since I didn’t have anywhere to go I gratefully accepted.

The moment I arrived in Balian I could feel this very welcoming and positive energy and whilst sipping my Balinese coffee that seemed to be even better than ever before, this feeling got only stronger.

In my own little bungalow with my own little porch I felt like my whole body started to relax. I felt home the second I arrived and the fact that I could go to the neighbours with whom I just had coffee to borrow a bucket to wash my cloth, gave the whole situation an even bigger community feeling.

Finally I walked towards the beach and there it was, the perfect spot. I just couldn’t believe what I saw and even more I couldn’t wait for the next morning to go out to surf my self. Balian is very small and quiet. It is impressive how the locals and the “tourists” make it work so that there is literally a village feeling to it and not at all like a resort or touristy place. There is not much else to do than to surf and enjoy the tranquility. You can surf almost all day long and relax at the pool from the bar in front of the beach. It is almost a bit too good to be true but it is absolutely real. Between surfing you are able to meditate at the beach, get a massage or eat superb food at the little place where you have the perfect view to the surf and meet new people.

The next day in the water there were a lot more surfers than in Pacitan or anywhere in Java before and I had to get used to it first. For the first time since I surf I met my old demon again. There were some amazing surfers and for the first time more woman, whom most of them were more experienced than me. I quickly lost my security and started to pay more attention to them and their level. Instead of enjoying the surf and being grateful for the beauty that surrounded me I only kept thinking what they must think of me and my level. The result was frustrating, I felt like I was doing worse. Later that day in the evening when I was doing Yoga and meditation in the moonlight on my porch, I came back to my self and realised what happened that day. I was rather grateful for the experience because for me it ment that I am more in touch with myself since I was aware of what was going on within my self. The next morning I actively decided to surf again because I love it and not because I want to impress someone or be the best at something. No, I just went out and surfed till I was exhausted and I felt fantastic!

In the evening I went with some new friends from New Zealand to the street market for dinner. I tried all sorts of things I never had before. Like the green balls who look like they are made out of that gel we used to play with when we were kids. I had absolutely no clue what I was eating and nether was I sure if I liked it. It had a strange texture to it so I took another one of these super sweet thingies. The second one I started to like so I took a third one which then made me feel almost sick because it is so sweet. Turned out it was green coloured rice flour with sugar inside – healthy – I could feel like every one of them said hello to my hips! But I didn’t care, I wanted to try all these new things and it was delicious!

It was a full moon that night and whilst watching some of the guys go for a midnight surf I enjoyed with some people a Bintang at the beach.

On my little porch I got to write in tranquility and let my thoughts go where ever they felt like going. I thought of everything I was able to experience so far and a feeling of gratitude came over me. I was finally able to be in the present. It felt like there was no past and no tomorrow. I was simply just there and happy.

I lost my heart to Balian beach and will definitely go back soon!

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A breakthrough moment in Pacitan

Pacitan what a great place! I was in heaven once I arrived and was able to go to bed with the sound oft the waves. I slept like a baby and left the city smog behind me.

At Harry’s Ocean House you get invited quickly in to a community, I loved it straight away. I also got to cook for the first time in Indonesia my self and really enjoyed going to the market and buy fresh vegetables and tofu with a lot of chillies of course.

Pacitan is rather small and there isn’t much going on. You won’t find any touristy things and I really appreciated that fact a lot. You go there because you love the nature and you surf. There is not much else to do.

Getting up in the morning and having at first a look at the surf then jump on your motorbike and off you go to one of the three main surf spots in the area. There is also one spot that I call “my secret beach”. To get there it is quite an adventure. After a drive on the motorbike in the hills on a road that requires a certain driving skill, you have to put your motorbike on hold and hike the rest. It was burning hot on that day as I made my way to the secret beach. On the way I came across an older Javanese man, who decided to walk me to the beach. He spoke not a word of English and we walked rather quietly side by side. We came across farmers in the hills and I was amazed how they live and work up there. It seemed like a different world.
They road made it’s way downhill and suddenly I saw beautiful rice fields just like I pictured them before coming to this country. I could hear the waves a bit further a way and I knew I couldn’t be too far away. And there, peeking out between the palm trees and rice fields was a cove like I have never seen before in my life. As I reached the beach with the old man I was lost for words. The pure beauty of nature was mind-blowing. The water was turquoise and blue, the sand white with palm trees greener than green. Not a single other human being was on the beach. I sat down and just looked out in the sea and enjoyed the beauty. The old man sat next to me and he kept pointing to my board that I carried with me with the hope to be able to surf. I smiled and tried to explain to him that the current was to big for me to go out alone. He smiled and I wasn’t sure if he understood what I was trying to say. We sat a bit longer underneath a palm tree and later made our way back towards the bikes.
He seemed to have known every farmer we came across and eager with a big smile pointed towards me. I figured he said he brought me to the beach but wasn’t sure what he really said to them. As we reached the motorbikes I tried to give him a little bit of money as a thank you but he refused it and I finally gave in. I thanked him gratefully and we tried to get back with our bikes, which was harder than I thought.
It was a beautiful day and I was thankful to have met such a wonderful man.

In Pacitan I finally got my answer from RADA. I was waiting for this now since Mai. All this time whilst traveling I asked my self “what if” I get in “what if” I don’t get in. The funny thing was the longer I travelled the more I kept thinking that I get in and that it would be a nice way of knowing which direction my life would go. I would sort of have something to return to, something that defines a plan.

I have experienced so many wonderful and beautiful things so far on my journey, and there hasn’t been a moment in which I was bored or didn’t know what to do. Nevertheless you live day by day, not knowing what will be tomorrow. For me something I am not used to. It needs a lot of confidence to trust your self to know that it will all be just fine. I think the reason why we all make these plans and put our self’s in to these boxes, so-called career or social agendas, is because we are scared of the unknown. It is ten times easier to make a full worked out life plan by what time you have which degree ad which job title, when you want to get married and have children than just live your life. I have always admired people who are able to do that. I am someone who always had a plan. I always knew what I wanted to do with my life.

Here I was about to open that certain message that again is putting me in that box that I was not that happy to be in anymore and all I could think was: I hope I got in! I have to admit that the last few days I got a little scared of not knowing exactly how my journey is going to continue. By the fact of a “yes” from this school I could plan out the whole next few month till I would have to go back to London.

I opened the message and I couldn’t believe the word that stuck out to me in huge letters. “Unfortunately”! I didn’t even have to read on, I knew in that moment it is a “no”!
I got so angry, frustrated and also sad. Why didn’t they want me? Why didn’t they accept me? I had a “kitchen floor melt down “ moment. I could feel how my whole world collapsed. What was I going to do now? I suddenly realized that I fooled my self. I did say I wanted to go on this journey to find out what I really wanted to do. And there I got exactly what I asked for only that I didn’t count with the possibility to be literally so exposed to it and that in the middle of nowhere in Indonesia. In a way I think I never even considered not doing it or doing something else. The share amount of possibilities what I could do now was suddenly frightening to me. I could travel everywhere and I could work anything. What am I going to do? What is my purpose now? That was the question!

That night I went to bed with tears rolling down my cheeks. I tried to be quiet since I was sleeping in a dorm and didn’t want anyone to know that I was crying because I got rejected from RADA.
I got up very early and went straight to the beach, jumped on my board and started to paddle out all my anger. It felt good that I could feel my body, but I wasn’t there. My thoughts were still circling around that letter and my situation. Therefore I didn’t surf well because I wasn’t in the here and now, which then of course frustrated me even more. I felt like I was doing worse than before.

Actively I reminded my self why I love surfing so much. That moment you connect with the nature and you feel your body. You put your self in the here and now and it is almost like a way of meditation. In that moment it seems there is nothing else that matters. And it worked! My heart relaxed my brain stopped running in high-speed motion and I felt happy. In that moment I took my best wave so far and the feeling was extraordinary!! I was filled with joy and all I could think of was that I was thankful for being in this beautiful country and get to live an amazing life!

I didn’t spend one more negative thought on RADA and the whole story. I understood why it had to happen like this. And even though it is scary and unknown what will happen in my life, one thing I was certain of: I was one more step closer to my true self because I put my self for the very first time in the present. There was no plan that I could think about there was no past that I was missing, there was just the now. And in that particular “now” I was just happy and that felt great!

Pacitan

Pacitan


Little Cimaja

Cimaja is a little village 30 minutes outside of Pelabuhan Ratu right at the beach. It is quite small and the people are very friendly. They welcome you with everything they have. Almost the whole village felt like it was a big family. Everyone knows everyone and of course everything about everyone!

The first morning I went straight to the food market in Pelabuhan Ratu with Ben, whom I met at Leo’s little paradise. It was raining so once we arrived there at the market we walked ankle-deep through mud along all sort of things. From clothes to shoes and finally to my fruits. I was longing for this the whole time ever since I arrived. I have heard so many of my friends talk about the fruits in Asia and how different they are. I wanted to walk through the whole market and we came across the most interesting food I have ever seen. The way they preserve the fish was incredible. They put it in a lot of salt to preserve it and never before have I seen so much tofu. There were these chillies everywhere and I was allowed to try one. Knowing a little bit that they are very spicy I thought I just go for it and took a bite. Wow, not only did I think my mouth was burning but I couldn’t stop crying. So there I was laughing at crying at the same time. Of course all the locals at the market had a good laugh about the whole situation.

I wanted to buy so many different fruits just to try them, but I could never eat all of them, so I thought I bring some to the people at the hostel and share them. Who doesn’t like fruit, right? After bargaining down the prizes with Ben who speaks Indonesian we enjoyed our fruity breakfast back at the hostel. My friends were right, I have never tasted such a good mango and pineapple before. We enjoyed fresh coconut and dragon fruit, watermelon and matakucing – it was wonderful.

Ready and energized, we went to the beach and I had my first try at surfing. Since I windsurf and snowboard I thought I must get the hang of this pretty quickly, but once in the water I realized it is quite different. I am really ambitious when it comes to sports I won’t stop until I can do it. The feeling I had when I stood up on my first wave that day was incredible. There are no words to describe this feeling! I was hocked immediately. From that moment on I knew this is what I want to do everyday and become better and better. So the next day I was up at six am, ready to go see how the surf was. The locals were amazing, giving me tips and kept shouting: “Now, this one – go, go, go!” So, day by day, I could tell I was improving and the feeling kept getting better. But I wanted more. I didn’t care how much my board rashes that I meanwhile got on my legs and chest, were hurting. The bare feeling of freedom on that board and the absolute peace I felt in the water, were much stronger than the pain.

I believe I never had a feeling like this before in a sport and I was always very sporty. Already back in high school, I went to a sports school and the passion for sports is not new to me at all. Still, I reached a totally different level with surfing. I want to get up at 5.30 in the morning for it and I already missed the feeling that one day I was back in the bus to continue my travels.

A few days later a French couple joined us in the hostel and Vincent, what a coincidence, happened to be a surf instructor in France. I took my chance and asked him if he could give me later a few tips and therefore could improve my surfing. He wanted to go in first him self and then he would give me some tips. I wasn’t going to wait and went in with him straight to the big waves. He was quite surprised after I told him that it was my third day and said: “One thing is very good, you are not scared of going in to the big waves.”
I didn’t even realize it, all I did was I followed the locals. I kept watching them how they did everything, started to talk to them and simply believed they must know where it is good. Was my thinking naive? Was I without caution? No, I don’t believe so. I gave them my trust and they felt it. They always watched if I was doing O.K. and I felt safe.
That day I had a few acid drops (When you take off on a wave and have the bottom suddenly fall out as you free fall down the face), but I went back out every time. Vincent gave me the tip to go practice in the white swell. If I can manage to get up there, it would help me to get a better balance and control in the wave.
Immediately I went closer to the beach and I literally wouldn’t leave the water until I had it down! I just kept doing it over and over and wouldn’t give up. Eventually I got the hang of it and started to feel the movement.

That day a wind suddenly came up and the waves started to be flat. No chance you could surf. I found my self at the beach with no book no paper to write on – nothing! And for the first time I realized that I had a big problem with just being there and doing nothing. I was talking about this in my first post, that I wanted to go to Bali, learn how to surf, meditate and do nothing – just be. Well it turned out I wasn’t so good at the “just be” part!

I sat at the beach looked out in to the sea and could feel how my brain started to run in high motion. What was that? Why could I meditate and get to a state of not thinking and being absolutely in the moment but not while sitting at the beach? Did it have something to do with the fact that meditating is also doing something?
I believe that it is a something very healthy when you can manage to come down and just be in the moment. It is important to give your brain and body a break so you can recapture your energy.
The reason I think many people struggle with this is, because if you keep being in action and doing something you don’t have to confront yourself with certain feelings and thoughts.
I also found out that many of these backpackers don’t have that tranquillity. Even if you put in a day of relaxation and you “chill” there are always other people around. It is harder that one can imagine to end up alone and really be with yourself. There is always something happening and you always meet someone new. Plus most of them don’t travel alone. But may be not all of them have that desire like me to come closer to your self and really get to know who you are. Which is absolutely reasonable too.

I was still looking out in the sea and thought about my journey. I am extremely thankful for what I have been able to experience so far. It was full of excitement and new things that I forgot a little about what was missing in my life in London and why I went on this journey. On the right hand side was a couple in the water taking a swim. They were adorable how they forgot everything around them. The share amount of love between them was blowing in my direction and therefore evoke the feeling of love inside of me. It has been a long time that I felt that way and was able to share it with a special someone. I had to smile and while watching them and it made me think of one of my favourite quotes:

“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you desire, and at last you create what you will.”
George Bernard Shaw – Playwright

I absolutely live after this and I believe it works. I imagined my self on this trip far before I thought that I actually will be able to do it. But every day while meditating, at work, in the tube or in the shower, I would imagine my self in Bali. Sometimes still can’t believe that I am actually on my way there right now.

Suddenly a voice behind me took me out of my thoughts. Rudi, or Walet as the locals call him, asked me if I am interested in going to the hot springs. Of course I was! I read about them before and wanted to go see them anyway. Quickly I hoped on the back of his motorbike and off we drove up the hill to the hot springs.
Directly from the lava underneath the ground comes hot water up in the air and drizzles down in the little river that is cold. The perfect spa session in pure nature right in front of me! Amazed by what I saw I walked behind Walet in the river and stood underneath the hot water. That was perfect after the surf this morning. I could feel how my skin and my muscles enjoyed the hot water. The locals take a lava stone from the river and rub their skin with it. Your dead skin gets rubbed off and it becomes super soft.
We laughed and talked with a mixture of English and Indonesian till our hands and feet looked like “grandma-skin”. It was the perfect day.

Another moment that I will keep dearly in my heart from Ciamja was, when I was on my way with Ben and Peter to sunset beach. They wanted to stop to have some soup. At a small place right next to the road we made a quick stop. Suddenly there were all these school girls around the age of 16 on motorbikes giggling and looking at us. Finally they came over and with all their courage they asked us if they could interview us for a school project. We were happy to help them in any way.
The group leader (at least that is what I sensed) kept apologizing for her English. And when I told her that her English perfect and she is doing a fabulous job she blushed and hid with a big smile behind her hand.
They asked us all sorts of questions about where we were from, what we are doing here and what we think of Cimaja and Indonesia. They also asked us what our profession is and Peter responded and said: “ I am a medical student.” They only understood student and nodded with their heads, so I quickly jumped in and said that he is a doctor. And there they was their big “Awww’s” and impressed eyes.
It was my turn and I told them that I am an actress and a writer. Risa, the leader, couldn’t believe what she heard and kept asking me if I am an actress and I kept saying yes. Once she translated it to her friends, they all started to laugh, jump around and scream as if I was someone known. For them this was a big deal and the girl immediately wanted to know everything about me. Moved by their reaction I asked Risa what she wants to become one day and she told us that she wants to be a teacher. I told her that this is a very good and important profession and she was thrilled to hear that. The last question was what is you most memorable moment in Cimaja and we all said: “This interview!”
After our short photo session we hoped in the next ankot to sunset beach. We were talking in the bus about the girls and how wonderful it is to see that a teacher here encourages their students to practise English and be courageous and interact with other people.
I only learned later that it is not obvious that every child can go to school here. The government won’t change that on purpose and I think it is so sad to see that a change in that matter will still take many years!

I had such an amazing time in Cimaja that I decided to stay one more night and will enjoy the surf the next day.
For my last evening I went with young Mr. E (That is how he calls him self because it is more simple, he said.), a local from Cimaja, to get some traditional food. I was in the mood for fish and he took me to a cute little place where they literally fished the fish out of the water killed it and grilled it! I would say it doesn’t get much fresher than that!

Cimaja is a must in my opinion if you travel through West Java. It’s charm will take you in immediately.
A place of tranquility and fun with locals – a place that I can only recommend!

School girls who interviewed Peter, Ben and me


Indonesia here I come

I have decided what my next big destination will be – Indonesia!

I did figure out where I want to go next through one of my meditations sessions.
Once I came out of it I really loved the idea of flying to Jakarta and travel inland and along the coast to Bali! I got really excited about this journey but I also thought about going towards John. I caught my self loosing my confidence about going towards France first.
I did find my balance through the last months and feared, that if I go there I might loose it again?!

Putting away that thought, I hopped on the train early in the morning towards Zurich.

I worked in Zurich for three days. Like I said in my first post, I want to work along my journey also things I have never done before. In these three days I was supposed to work in promotion, and I have done that many times before, but on the second day something with the giveaways went wrong and suddenly I had to jump in as a personal shopper for Chinese customers at this house of brands that I was working at. So there I was with these Chinese Ladies trying to make my sudden new job right, as I was confronted with cultural differences.
I had to get used to the fact that they are treating employees very different and not very respectful. I have heard of this before but I didn’t want to believe that all of them are like this. So I decided to be respectful and tried to show them that we are equals. As I lost most of my clients in this big shopping center, I ended up with one woman alone. In the beginning she literally made me run from one rack to the other. And I cursed Ralph Lauren for not making smaller skirts! I got a bit frustrated with the whole situation and still I didn’t want to believe that this is going to end like this. So I started to ask her all kinds of questions about her travels and her plans. As she started to talk about it she became a lot softer. I even believe that she wasn’t aware of what was happening, but on our way to the wine store we were two women talking together normally and friendly. I tried to tell her something about wine ( of which I have not that much knowledge) and we talked so much that I forgot to tell the cashier that she has a 15% discount. The whole thing ended in me running around the whole building to get her money back and be fast enough so she wouldn’t miss her connecting train.
Sweaty and out of breath I didn’t mind, because she proved to me that she left her box that she was put in.
I really appreciated this new experience and it shows me that we all have this potential of change.

Later I went to my friend Nyima’s house. I stayed with her during this time and she is one of the warmest and most giving hosts I have encountered in my life! One of my dearest friends, Martina, joined us for dinner and over fish, asparagus and salad we spent a lovely evening together talking about life and traveling.

Nyima has been traveling alone as well and this at a much younger age than me. She has not only made a similar experience but she’s awesome at something I am not at all – planing!!
On the first night at her house I slightly became anxious because I had no clue were I would go first once I will arrive in Jakarta. Reading a bit about Jakarta it is not the most beautiful city that you want to spend too much time in. I was hoping that Nyima would give me some tips and may be helping me out with planing the start a bit.
She must have read my mind or sensed my wish, because it didn’t take her long to offer me her help. I was so grateful and could tell that she got excited because she loves doing this.

Planing arrival in Jakarta Planing arrival in Jakarta

I talked to Nyima about my decision of not going towards France first. She was really surprised, because she knew how much I wanted to do that in the first place. I told her about my fear of loosing my balance, and she mentioned to me a passage from an unknown other:

To let go isn’t to forget, not to think about, or ignore. It doesn’t
leave feelings of anger, jealousy, or regret. Letting go isn’t about
winning or losing. It’s not about pride and it’s not about how you
appear, and it’s not obsessing or dwelling on the past. Letting go
isn’t blocking memories or thinking sad thoughts, and it doesn’t leave
emptiness, hurt, or sadness. It’s not about giving in or giving up.
Letting go isn’t about loss and it’s not about defeat. To let go is
to cherish the memories, but to overcome and move on. It is having
an open mind and confidence in the future. Letting go is learning
and experiencing and growing. To let go is to be thankful for the
experiences that made you laugh, made you cry, and made you grow.
It’s about all that you have, all that you had, and all that you will
soon gain. Letting go is having the courage to accept change,
and the strength to keep moving. Letting go is growing up. It is
realizing that the heart can sometimes be the most potent remedy.
To let go is to open a door, and to clear a path and set yourself free.

I thought about it and came to the conclusion that my fear of loosing my balance is again my fear of loosing control. This journey is supposed to be about listening to my heart and doing what feels right in that moment.
I realized I had to let go.
I didn’t have to dig deep to know that I do want to see him before I go to Indonesia. All the reasons I gave my self for not going were far more excuses.
Life is too short to wait – I picked up my phone and asked him where he will be on the following Thursday!
And it looks like I might be going for a short trip to France. We’ll see…I have one week left till I leave for Indonesia and I am excited to see what will happen till then!

As I reached Thun on my way back from Zurich I couldn’t believe my eyes. It is the end of May, officially summer, and there I looked out the window and saw snow on the hills over Thun!
But if you ever go to Thun, I would recommend it in the “normal” summer, it is a lovely town with lots of “charm” and a beautiful lake with an amazing view over the mountain range.

Thun


19 – 5 – 2013 Off to Paris – Bern

As I’m sitting in the TGV and looking out the window I start to think about my last week in London. The whole week was just beautiful. I must say as the flowers slowly (even if it is a bit late for my taste) start to peek out of the ground with their beauty, London became more and more exciting. You find a lot more markets outside with fresh food. Yesterday I even came a cross a baker who sold fresh “Challa” (which is a Jewish bread)! It looked so yummy, and I love fresh Challa, that I bought a big one for everyone at the house that I was staying at.

It got finally a bit warmer and cycling becomes more fun. It felt like the whole city woke up from the “winter-sleep”.

I think about my final audition at RADA and how glad I am that I didn’t chicken out! It was a great experience and I haven’t sweated so much in a long time. The next day I was sore on every inch on my body. It reminded me why I love my profession so much. The theater does simply have something magical!
Somewhere on the way this magic just disappeared a bit and for that I also want to go on this journey. I will know in June if I got in or not, and till then I have time to find out what I would do if I get in. In a way it made me think of when I started with my studies thirteen years ago in Paris. I am grateful for it, because it reminded me of that person who had something to say. Why I wanted to work in the theater. For me it was never about becoming a famous actress, but through the years it became a “job” and society puts that believe on you that you have to move up that ladder otherwise you failed. The pressure from outside, this expectation that I have to “make it” robed my creativity and killed that dream of that girl who had something to say. I let others take the magic away. That day I found a spark!

How I said goodbye to my dear friend Ikuyo, whom I miss already. As she said goodbye to me she started to tear up and of course as a result of that, so did I. In that moment I finally realized what I am about to do and I got suddenly scared like hell. I kept thinking; What am I doing? I have not thought this through! Where am I going? I know that I will go eventually to Bali, but I have not even thought that through and right there I realized that I am leaving for the first time my comfort zone.

It is an interesting thing this comfort zone. Even when we think we are leaving it, we trick our self’s and we keep sailing in known waters. To really go out in to the blue is a different feeling. Of course this is for everyone something else. As for me, this is it! I have never just left without a plan. As liberating as it is, it is very scary! You could say I always was in control of everything I would do. Giving up that control suddenly opens up all these possibilities. Suddenly life seems to be full of different colors and I can paint my picture the way I want and feel. I am so grateful for that I keep getting in touch with my self and start to listen to what I want and really feel.

The closer the train gets to Switzerland the more I feel that I don’t want to stay there long. I am so happy to see my mother, family and friends but it also represents one part of that comfort zone and I do not want to fall back in to it.

As much as I love my family and my friends I also believe that sometimes you have to cut yourself loose from them so you can find your true self and find out what YOU want.
Some people don’t understand why I am living my life the way I am. I have no security or a career plan. I am single and only intend on changing this for the right person. If people would force their opinion about “how or what I should be doing” on me, I would many times end up making decisions that would not really make me happy, but I would think that way they are happy with me! If I please them they will be satisfied, happy, shut up and love me! I had to turn 29 to finally wake up and realize that it is my life and I only have that one! So why waste my time pleasing everyone else but me? I finally understood that I have to love myself first!
Yes, there will be people who will not like what I do or wont understand it and try to talk me in to making safe and well thought through decisions. But I have to thank Ikuyo for giving me one of the best advises in a long time. She said every time someone would not shut up and trying to talk me in to thinking this is a bad idea even though I know this is what I want to do I should say: “I am really grateful you care so much but I will still do this!”
What an amazing sentence! It incorporates not only gratitude but you also state again that you stay true to yourself.

I look out the window and see large fields of rapeseed flowers. The bright yellow is popping out of the green. It looks vivid and full of life. With a smile on my face I am ready to start this journey!

Rapeseed Fields


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