Snapshot: Monkey business

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November 2013, Phuket, Thailand

6 de la mañana en el Gran Buddha en Phuket. Somos las únicas ahí. Privilegiadas. De pronto notamos que no estamos solas. Vemos uno. Otro. Ok, son 3, No, son 4. 5. 10. Los monos que viven en los bosques que rodean el monte donde se sienta la estatua aparecen en busca de comida antes de que lleguen los visitantes. Recorren los tachos de basura en busca de tesoros abandonados. Bingo! Uno de ellos encuentra oro rojo: una lata de Coca. Y se la toma!!

Naturaleza + industria

6 am at Big Buddha, Phuket. We are the only ones there. Privileged. Suddenly we notice we’re not alone. We see one. Another. 3 of them. 4. 5. 10. The monkeys that inhabit the forest surrounding the hill where the statue sits show up looking for food before visitors arrive. They go through every trash bin looking for abandoned treasures, Jackpot! One of them finds red gold: a can of Coke. And he drinks it!!

Nature + industry

ph: Julia Cohen Kichic

Diving 1 – Anto 1

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I did my open water diving course while in Koh Tao, Thailand. It was one of my biggest challenges and achievements. It was stressful and I wanted to quit several times. Each day.
I was born in a city by the ocean and from early on I was taught not to fear but to respect the ocean. And so I did. I never had issues with water and to this day, being 31 years of age I sometimes pretend I’m a mermaid every time I’m in the ocean. Furthermore, I believe I developed a kind of spiritual relationship with the ocean; its vastness, the immensity. I believe it cleanses every soul that needs something washed away.
But the breathing underwater thing scared me. I knew I would have equipment and instruction, but it just sounded weird, unnatural. I was lucky to have an amazing and crazy instructor who just wouldn’t let me quit and basically pulled me down the water the first time I jumped in and immediately freaked out.
This was 3 months and a half ago. I knew I had to get back in the water, fast, or all my previous fears would come to get me again. So, Nusa Lembongan sounded like the perfect place to go and dive again. I’ve heard amazing things about it: you can see turtles, manta rays and incredibly colorful ocean flora (I’m not sure it’s said this way but it sounds science-y). So off I went.
I travelled with my housemate, Christie. She arranged for us to stay at the diving resort where she did her open water course. She was going to do her advance course. I just wanted to do some fun dives. We gathered Saturday morning, 8 am to get our equipment ready. I was a little anxious, but nothing major. After 30 minutes, we got to our first diving point. We could see the different currents in the ocean but didn’t make much of it. I got all my gear on and went in the water by sitting on the side of the boat and letting go backwards, first time for me, had done it jumping forward or backwards but never from a sitting position. So far so good, I put the regulator (the breathing thingy) in my mouth and started deflating my BC (floating device) so that I could go under water. Nothing happened, I couldn’t get down! The other divers along with the instructor were way down and I was still there, floating, trying to get their attention. I didn’t have enough weights on my belt so I just floated there. The dive master guiding the dive urged me to make a decision, “up or down?” The situation made me panic and I decided to sit this diving out. Got back on the boat and waited for everyone to come up. Turns out the currents where crazy down there and I was better off not being there being I only had 5 dives under my belt.
So off to the next diving site we go. I put my gear back on, definitely sure I would get it right that time with the correct weights and all. Back on the water, I started going down and as soon as my head is under water I started hyperventilating and breathing like a maniac. As Dr Gonzo very accurately puts it in Fear and Loathing in Vegas:

“I hate to say this, but this place is getting to me. I think I’m getting the fear.”

I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t. Again, time was against me, “coming or staying?” Panic was back. Are you, my dear reader, hoping for a sudden courageous epiphany? Not gonna happen. I chickened out and got back on the boat, frustrated and disappointed at myself. Sad, just sad.
I snorkeled and was happy to see purple starfishes for the first time ever. But the feeling of failure still haunted me. It took me a couple of days to let go of that feeling and actually appreciate the fact that despite the fear I went back in the water to try again after the first time didn’t quite work out.
I’m gonna have to get my little panicky lungs back to Thailand and do some dives there in the pool-like oceans and with a patient instructor to take me step by step again. I am not giving up, not yet, at least!

If anyone out there has any diving stories of overcoming fear, or not, I’d love to not feel so alone!

At least I got a picture in the water!

At least I got a picture in the water!

Snapshot: Invitation to sea

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Langkawi, Malaysia, November 2013

Caminando por Langkawi encontramos ésta oferta pegada a un árbol.
El dueño de un barco a vela buscaba tripulantes para sumarse a su viaje comunitario.
Sudeste asiático para 2013 e Indonesia, África y Brasil para 2014.
Los costos y las tareas se repartirían entre los participantes.
La vida tiene esa capacidad de sorprendernos en cualquier momento!

While walking around in Langkawi we found this offer stuck to a tree.
A sail boat owner was seeking for crew to join him on a community trip on board of his boat.
South East Asia for 2013 and Indonesia, Africa and all the way to Brazil for 2014.
Costs and chores to be shared among travelers.
Life can always surprise you!

Nice to meet you, Malaysia! Pulau Langkawi

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After my torrid affair with Thailand ended, I fell into Malaysia’s arms, merely because it was on the way to somewhere else, to be honest. “Un clavo saca a otro clavo” would be the Spanish expression, which basically means that Malaysia was my rebound country. So we’re off to a bad start.

I got there with an ear infection and wounded feet, all scars that Thailand had given me, scars that didn’t bother me while being with my little turquoise jewels in the Andaman sea. That had changed. I couldn’t get in the water, I was on antibiotics and pain killers and had to put year drops every 3 hours. I was cranky and my energy was low. So my perception of Pulau Langkawi was tainted already because of my former Asian lover.
Langkawi is an archipelago of 104 islands in the Andaman Sea, some 30 km off the mainland coast of northwestern Malaysia. It was also my first encounter ever with Muslim religion, which was a bit rough for me and took me some time to get used to since I knew very little about it. The hostel was an open space where people wandered around non-stop, it was hot, the bathroom was icky, mosquitoes where little ponies, eating me up. And food was weird. That was bad. Very bad.

However, Pulau Langkawi is so pretty that eventually none of that matters. We left Pantai Cenang mid-morning and headed towards the 7 pond waterfalls, Telaga Tujuh. After going up what seemed like a million steps we were at the top of the hill, having amazing views of the ocean while resting our feet in refreshingly cold and extremely transparent water. It was heaven. We laid there for a while and headed down to the waterfall itself. It was a great place to just be there and get kissed by the mist of the falling water.

Top pf the waterfall & ocean view

Top pf the waterfall & ocean view

Down the road from the waterfalls and after a 20 minute walk we reached the cable car station. Went all the way up to the gate of the sky bridge, 650 above seal level, WHICH WAS CLOSED! Bummer. Anyway, we got to enjoy beautiful views of Langkawi, not only Pulau Langkawi but the nearby islands. We walked around staring, amused. Then we got back down alone, the whole cable car to ourselves cause a couple refused to ride with us. Yes. They were Muslim. We made the best of it and between Julia’s screams of terror due to the height (finally! Something she’s scared of! Hahaha) we took some crazy pictures.

View from the entrance of the Sky Bridge

View from the entrance of the Sky Bridge

Beautiful overview

Beautiful overview

While coming down, we spotted a little white sand beach sitting on a little bay called Burau Bay. We had to get there! So we headed that way. Turned out the beach was owned by a huge resort. We put our rich girls faces on and just walked in. As soon as we got to the lobby, it started raining, so we just stayed lounging in one of the beach chairs under a couple of palm trees until it stopped. The beach looked amazing but there was a jellyfish warning sign. Boo hoo. Here’s a pic I found online for you to see the beach and the resort. We researched it later and the cheapest room is almost 400 usd. Yeah… bye!!

Berjaya Resort Langkawi

Berjaya Resort Langkawi

Alcohol in Malaysia is expensive! So, good-bye beer! Luckily we found a Falafel and Shawarma food stall run by a lovely Syrian guy so we became regulars there. Julia got her Henna on, I got my hiking shoes on a duty-free shop and then, we were ready to get going. Gotta keep on moving!

I knew Malaysia didn’t stand a chance against Thailand even before getting there. Thailand was my first in SEA, how can you compete with that? However, I will always keep fond memories of my time there and Malaysia had some trick up its sleeve that I was not expecting!

Sunset in Pantai Cenagan

Sunset in Pantai Cenagan

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El tiempo no para

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Dejo Bali en poco más de un mes. El tiempo empieza a correr nuevamente. Tanto que ver aún. No hay tiempo que perder; tengo que mirar a la aventura a los ojos.

Hace poco más de 15 días que ando en moto. Miedosa. De ir sola. Miedosa. De llevar copiloto. El tiempo corre, no hay ni lugar ni segundos para el miedo. Con copiloto incluído, nos fuimos de una punta a la otra de Bali, 3 horas de ida, 3 de vuelta, por terrazas de arrozales, subidas, bajadas, curvas, gallinas, pequeños pueblos, tráfico loco, lluvia, viento, mar, palmeras y sol. Sol enorme que nos acompañó todo el día.

El destino? Pura Lempuyang, 10 km al este de Tirta Gangga, al noreste de Bali. No sé cómo apareció en mi cabeza, pero desde que lo hizo, no se fue más. Así que convencí a dos ávidas aventureras y lectoras de mapas para que guíen el trayecto, y allá fuimos, 4 locas juntadas por los vientos de Ubud.

Después de haber visto más de 20 templos, empezaba a pensar que ya ninguno me iba a sorprender. Por suerte, estaba equivocada. Una puerta al cielo toda para nosotras. Vista privilegiada de un volcán. Vista privilegiada del mar. Vista privilegiada. Y punto.

Y para terminar el día, gracias al apoyo emocional y logístico de mi amiga-compañera de casa, bajé, subí, me perdí, volví a bajar y volví a subir por un camino de mi actual barrio que me aterrorizaba. Y ya está, un miedo menos y un pendiente que ya no existe.

Feliz, como nunca y como siempre.

coco loco time!

coco loco time!

Playita! Candidasa

Playita! Candidasa

mar igual amor

mar igual amor

Jump!

Jump!

Acá estoy!!

Acá estoy!!

wow upalalá

wow upalalá

Christie in the sky gate

Christie in the sky gate

Las aventureras lectoras de mapas + Wayan Bon Jovi (sic)

Las aventureras lectoras de mapas + Wayan Bon Jovi (sic)

Gateway to heaven

Gateway to heaven

Felicidad es… / Happiness is…

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La felicidad de hoy vino en forma de… Chaturanga!

Chaturanga Dandasana es una de las posiciones en la secuencia de saludo al sol que se practica en yoga
/chaht-tour-ANG-ah don-DAHS-anna/
chatur = cuatro
anga = extremidades
danda = columna, soporte del cuerpo
asana = posición
(hay una fotito más abajo. No, no soy yo)
Siendo pariente del primo sin huesos de “La vaca y el pollito” cualquier actividad que requiera fuerza en los brazos es un gran desafío para mi.
Después de un mes y medio de casi romperme los dientes contra el piso varias veces, logré hacer la pose como corresponde! iupiiiii!
Y fui feliz! 🙂

Qué te hizo feliz hoy?

Today’s happiness came as… Chaturanga!
Chaturanga is one of the postures in the sun salutation sequence practiced in yoga.
/chaht-tour-ANG-ah don-DAHS-anna/
chatur = four
anga = limb
danda = staff (refers to the spine, the central “staff” or support of the body)

Being a close relative of “Cow and chicken”‘s boneless cousin, any activity that requires upper body strength is a big challenge for me.
After a month and a half of almost falling on my face several times, I finally got it right!! woohoo!
And that made me very happy 🙂

You can learn more about this pose here

What made YOU happy today?