Smart phones, tablets, laptops, iPads ….we have become addicted to these devices! Last week my iPad screen went black with fussy lines across and I felt lost…..and fussy! I have “everything” on there from trivial things like my calendar… to everyday things like my journal, my vision boards, my books, my courses, my yoga/exercise apps, my games…. to important things like my banking app and documents. Every time I wanted to do something or read something I couldn’t because it’s on my iPad! I felt devastated and truly sad. And yes, I even cried.
This made me realize how dependent I have become on my device! I’ve only had my iPad for 2 years! What did I do before I had my iPad? What did we do before smart phones? Or even mobile phones.
I spend sometimes hours on my iPad, not really doing anything?! Yet it feels like there is always something to do on there?! Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying it is all “bad” to have a mobile device. It is great for when you travel, all you need is your device and you have many books and applications on there e.g. yoga/exercise, calendar etc. Or if you get stranded somewhere and need help. It is easy to make friends and stay in touch even if they live on the other side of the planet. You also have easy access to lots of information and online courses.
But I think I (we) have become addicted to our devices! And that is my concern. I often see people walking in the street or sitting on the bus or at a restaurant and they are so zoned in on their devices that they don’t appreciate their surroundings. They don’t even talk to the person sitting across from them which is their partner or friend. They think they are connected to the world but in reality, they have lost their connection to humanity, nature and themselves.
We should manage our time in such a way that our hours, days, weeks, lives don’t go by without us living it. What I mean is the amount of time we spend being non-productive. Instead of going onto Facebook for hours go for a run or a walk outside. Read a book. Take a weekend break from your device, OK maybe try a day then or even a few hours to start with. Just put your phone down and enjoy a day with your family or friends, go for lunch, go to the park, do something for an extended period of time without looking at your phone. Or even better spend some time alone in nature watching the birds, listening to a river, looking at the clouds. Just being in the moment with yourself and with nature. You will be amazed at how this will help lower your stress levels and you will feel more connected!
Here is to enjoying your device but knowing when to take a break. Enjoy your life, your living breathing life.
I read a book a couple of years ago and it's a short amazing little book. It's called 'the four agreements' by Don Miguel Ruiz. If you haven't read it I would suggest you do, it’s a quick read with some very insightful points and basically 4 "rules" you should (or could) put into everyday practice. Without elaborating too much the basic 4 agreements are; 1- be impeccable with you word, 2- don't make assumptions, 3- don't take anything personally, 4- always do your best. The fourth one is the one I want to focus on today.
So I am an English teacher in Thailand and it can be a lot of fun but also challenging. You are trying to teach kids that, as we all remember when we were kids at school, don't always want to learn the subject and they are just there because their parents pay for them to be there or school is a place for them to break away from their life at home. For whatever reason some kids are just loud, busy, and disruptive and have a very short attention span. I try to make my classes fun and very interactive which does lend itself to getting a bit out of control sometimes. But majority of my classes, when I ask them to be quiet most of them are and when I ask them to listen most of them do. In one of my classes the kids just kept on talking especially the boys. I asked nicely be quiet, I shouted be quiet, I whispered be quiet and nothing worked. After about 20 min of shouting I was getting annoyed, my throat was getting sore and I was hot and bothered. I was really trying my best at the time. But then I lost it, I went to the one boy that was one of the instigators, slammed my hands on his desk and shouted be quiet. He kept on talking, with me being in his face, all in Thai of course. I then shouted and said that I'm trying to make the class fun but they have no respect. He then started laughing in my face. There and then I decided to walk out. I grabbed my bag and walked out. As I walked out the majority of them roared "yeah" and some of them grabbed their bags and started leaving the class. Then I lost it even more.....if that was possible at that stage. I shouted at them to get back in the class room, sit down and shut up. The Thai teacher next door obviously saw me storming out and came to ask what was wrong. I burst into tears and explained what happened. Needless to say the kids got a small punishment and they all had to apologize to me.
In hindsight I should have handled it differently but at that stage I thought I was doing my best, but it wasn't good enough. I have had that class since and they were a bit better but still noisy and disrespectful. I realized that you can only control your own thoughts, words and actions and not anyone else's! And actually all the agreements in the book was appropriate for my situation. It is good to know and understand certain principles, but it’s when you put them into your daily life and actively practice them that they become a part of you.
Challenge yourself and take one agreement, let’s say the first one, “be impeccable with your word” (that is towards yourself first and foremost then towards everyone else). For one day only focus on this agreement and when you find yourself talking negatively about yourself or someone else STOP. When you find yourself gossiping STOP.
When you find yourself judging yourself or someone else STOP.
When you find yourself having negative thoughts about yourself or someone else STOP.
S-still T-think O-observe P-positive
This sounds easy enough but once you start becoming conscious of the way you think and speak you will soon realize that we do a lot of negative self-talk and this affects our mood and our life.
Take this one day challenge and it might just encourage you to do a week or a month only focusing on this one agreement but it will certainly change your life forever.
I was looking for a way to express my thoughts, emotions and actions but without getting the advice that others think or feel I need. I don't always want answers I just want to express myself and I appreciate others expressing themselves, so I started writing it down. And recently decided to start sharing, not only my travels, but also my T.E.A with everyone and maybe my writings will resonate with you and I want to encourage everyone to give me your opinions, perceptions and ideas. Ultimately that's what it's all about, everyone's perception on life, on situations, on ideals and ideas. You don't have to agree with me but I also think it is important not to judge me or anyone for their beliefs and ideas.
The name ‘T.E.A with Tania’ came to me during a mediation. For some odd reason I love making my own meaningful abbreviations and in this case I came up with Thoughts, Emotions, Actions, and I quite liked it! And then I thought it also works well for Travel, Experiences, Adventures. All these things, I think are important in life and helps us grow as individuals (including chocolate of course).
So I will be posting my blog whenever….on whatever.....it will not be a weekly thing or a monthly thing.....just when it feels right!
I hope you enjoy reading it and I would encourage any comments or thoughts you may have.
Ok so I had to do another visa run due to complications with my work permit. So what is a visa run you ask? A visa run is something you do when living and working in Thailand so you can stay longer in the country. Basically cross the border and come back. They vary from just an extension, a tourist or a non-b visa. I was going for my second non-b this time!
We live in a small village about an hour from the city of Surat Thani. I was going on my own as Yuri didn't need a new visa, he got his work permit. We left on the Friday straight after school to meet up with a friend to have some pizza and catch a movie. They only show one or two English movies on a Friday. So it has become some what of a ritual to go to Surat at least once a month. On Saturday morning me and Yuri said our farewells and I took a van down to Hat Yai. My ticket on the van was 240 baht(R77), which I think is really a good price as we paid a Songthao (local "cheap" transport) 100 baht(R32) for maybe 10 km! And to Hat Yai its about 330 km! The Songthao driver was really nice though and we will use him again, his name is Non and his English is pretty good.
It takes about 5-6 hours to get to Hat Yai with one stop on the way, so I made sure I had enough snacks and used the toilet before the journey started. Our agent lives in Hat Yai so we always stay at the teachers house when down there, which is really convenient, because doing another 4-5hr journey will be too tiring, and it's fun, we always go out for some food and go to a local club/pub. And being able to speak with fellow native speakers is great! Living in a small thai village you soon realise how good it is to be able to speak English to someone that actually understands what you are saying and can talk back. I met Louise and Anna (fellow teachers from SA) and they became my travel buddies.
From Hat Yai there are only 4 vans per day to Penang, first one at 9am then 12:30, 3:30 and 5pm. After a late night or early morning we didn't make the 9am van so caught the 12:30 one. You can pay between 450 and 550 baht, which again is quite reasonable I think. If you can, try NOT to sit on the back seats in the van as this is REALLY uncomfortable, because of the speed these vans drive and the conditions of the road you will feel like a tossed salad, trust me on this.. Because everyone knows this they all run for the van as soon as it's ready to leave and pile in from the front so we got stuck with the back seats. Huh ...bump...ow...!
From Hat Yai to the border is about an hours drive. Once there you have to get out of the van and go through passport control. SA passport holders go to an air conditioned office to get stamped, while all other passport holders have to go through the queue's outside in the hot humid thai weather. Me travelling on my British passport had to queue and it took much longer then Louise and Anna that was traveling on their SA passports. After the " friendly" thai immigration officer stamped my passport we proceeded across the bridge to Malaysia to go through the Malaysian side. There you have to take your bags and get your passport stamped again to enter Malaysia. This process takes anything from 10 min to maybe 50 min. As it was a Sunday the border was very busy and it took us about 40min. Back on the van, now the last stretch to Penang which is about 3hrs depending on your driver.
Huh .....ow...ao ow....bump!!
Once you cross the Penang bridge(which is 13.5 km long) it's not that long to the final van stop(Or it's not suppose to be long).Again depending on your driver, our driver made a few personal stops and it took about 40 min extra before he finally dropped us off. The good thing was he dropped us off about 50 meters from where we decided to stay! We heard of this place, but wasn't sure if it's ok!? So in the van we started talking to the other falang(thai for foreigner) and they where all gona stay there, so hey why not. The place is called Banana, they have 40 rooms ranging from double bed with tv and own bathroom to 3 singles with shared facilities, which is what we went for and it was only 20 ringgit pppn (R62). So 400 baht for two nights not bad! The accommodation was very basic, but that's all you need. Now the best thing of Banana is they have a visa service, you give them all your documents ,passport and photos and they go to the ambassy for you. Now being a South African it was tough to give your passport to a stranger that doesn't work for an official government company but there were so many other people and our fellow falang said they have done it before and it's fine. We handed in our documents with passport and 2 photos paid the 260 ringgit and trusted! If you go to the embassy yourself the non-b visa is 220 ringgit so an extra 40 ringgit for them to process it. You save on transport to and from the embassy and you don't have to queue and waist time. We handed in our paperwork when we arrived and were told we should get our visa's back by 2:30pm the Tuesday(or so they say). Now we had almost 2 days free to explore and enjoy all Penang has to offer. We were hungry and tired. Finding a place to eat is not really hard as there are many street venders and local restaurants on Lebuh Chulia and if you feel like something more western the shopping malls is only about 12 min walk away and open till 10 pm. We ended up at the Reggae club in front of Banana that serves free drinks ( alcoholic ) to ladies from 5pm - 9pm. The food was good and cheap and the staff very friendly.
Since we had the whole next day free we decided to book an excursion, and Banana does that as well. So we booked a 6 hrs tour of Penang for 80 ringgit starting at 9:30am. Our tour guide Zali was really sweet and very patient with us falang that first wanted to stop at Starbucks for a coffee! After the essential Starbucks stop we headed to the snake temple. Beautiful temple with real live snakes, I first thought they where fake but trust me they are real, apparently the smoke of the incense makes them want to sleep?! Keep burning that incense please !! Next it was the Kek Lok Si temple, a massive Buddha and beautiful Chinese temple with a few interesting sculptures (Mickey,Minnie, monkeys and a little doggie). Next stop Penang hill where we had about 2 hrs to walk around and have some good Malay lunch. We then stopped at a place were they showed us how they make silk shirts and sarong dresses, then off to the bee gallery where they showed us bees and honey. By this time we were way over our 6 hr trip so by the time we reached the next stop (some temple, I forget the name?)it was closed. We rushed to Dharmikarama Burmese temple and the Wat Chayamangkalaram thai Buddhist temple, one of largest reclining Buddha statues in the world. Then the grand finale the chocolate boutique. I've been looking forward to this all day. We got a brief history of Malay coco beans blah blah blah show me the chocolate.....then the tasting started...mmmmhhhhhmmmm some good stuff. I did a few tastings of my favourite dark chocolate and then spent 28 ringgit ( R88,more than my accommodation) on a small tin of chocolate. Crazy I know, but it was worth it!
Got back to Banana at 5:30pm, so a 6 hr tour ended up being a 8 hr tour. Next off to the shopping mall for shopping and food. We tried out a place called Kenny Rogers restaurant. Which looked good and we thought we are getting a great deal. But in hindsight it was pretty expensive. Off to bed we thought, but we decided to stop off at the local grocery shop next door to get a water. It's there where we met David, a lovely Malay guy that owns the grocery shop, a hostel and a little cafe. He is such a friendly helpful man so we ( him, his fiancé and his business partner Lloyd, also from SA living in Penang) all sat chatting until Tuesday early morning hours. It doesn't seem like Penang ever sleeps. I would definitely recommend you stay at the Super K hostel, his rates are 25 ringgit for a dorm. And your bed has its one little curtain for privacy. The grocery store downstairs is open 24 hrs and it's next door to Banana, so stay at Super K and get Banana to do your visa for you. That's what I'm gona do my next visa run.
After only a few hours sleep we decided to go walk around little India and explore some more local sights like Fort Cornwallis and Queen Victoria memorial clock tower. We headed back to pack our things and wait for our passports. Heads up if you stay at banana the check out time is 12 pm, even if you just hang around to wait for your passport, they didn't tell us this so we took our time had a shower and only left our room at 2pm and had to pay extra half day rate, so our stay ended up being 30 ringgit for 2 nights. The waiting for the passports felt like the longest wait ever. They said 2:30 pm our passports finally arrived at 5pm so we all grabbed our passports and jumped in the van, which you can book at Banana too for 28 ringgit, so much cheaper than from Thailand! Then the long journey back which strangely enough felt shorter back than it did there. Border same as before have your passport ready with your new visa and get stamp at Malaysia side then back in van drive across bridge and get your passport stamped at the thai side. Now sometimes they can give you a hard time, especially if you are on a South African passport. My friends got asked for 20 000 baht but they just ignored the lady that wanted the money and went to another guy and he didn't ask for money and they got stamped. On our way back the van was pretty empty and everyone was falang so we all had a good laugh and chatted all the way. I must say I love doing visa runs. They are fun and you get to meet a lot of people and the Malay people are so friendly and there is a lot to do in Penang.
Looking forward to my next visa run in dec.
It's one of those experiences you can't describe in words but have to experience it yourself to get the complete ....well experience!!
I thought in SA the people can't drive but boy was I wrong! In the beginning I thought "ok this is fun", then it went to "ok that was a bit dangerous", to finally thinking"Am I gona make it out alive?" I was tired after my flight but it didn't take long for me to be wide awake and prayed every second that we weren't gona crash. I love always knowing where I am and I make landmarks in case I have to find my way back, but I lost track soon after we left the airport.
India is soo busy with things to see and cars, trucks, buses, scooters, bicycles, pedestrians and bull drawn carts all driving as they please! I don't think they have any road rules! They all use their horns an encourage people to use their horns! it actually says on the trucks and buses ..please horn! Look closely at the video! And horn they do, non stop! To overtake they play chicken with the on coming traffic!!
We finally stopped for food, but as I didn't have any rupees I just sat at a table that was pointed out to me and I gestured I'm ok! All of a sudden I couldn't see my driver! My mind started racing...I left my bags in the car! What if he drive off!? I did have my handbag with me but all my other stuff...gone?! Suddenly I couldn't even remember what he looked like?! I thought ok I'm in a strange country, alone, no one speaks english no Indian money, no working phone...what am I going to do? I tried to ask the waiter "where is my driver?", he smiled, nodded (side to side) and said " ok "!!??? I walked outside to check if the car is still there....it was! I waited a bit longer and thought ok don't panic, just relax I'm sure he is around somewhere! After about 25 min(which felt like hours) he appeared. Asked me in his broken English if I've eaten, I said no I have no rupees! He than gestured it's ok he will pay! I thought 'aw that's nice'! So I just got some take away
After the horrific 6 hr journey, we arrived in Rishikesh! Narrow streets, lots of people both travellers and locals, cows, monkeys and lots of rubbish! I 'checked in' at the AYM, their English was very good so I had a sigh of relief. They took me to a local shop where I could exchange money and bought an Indian SIM card. The taxi driver hung around, after a while they told me he is waiting for his money for the lunch he bought me. I had a slice of pizza and a small bottle of water that was 150 rupees, I gave him 200 rupees expecting change. He said thank you and left!! That bugger...! I very quickly learned my lesson. I was taken to my room in the ashram which I shared with two other females. Monica from Brazil and Emily from USA. We shared moments, experiences, ups and down over the next 4 weeks.
We started our teacher trainer course with a beautiful opening ceremony that lasted about 2 hrs. Then we had our first yoga class, Ashtanga vinyasa. Wow I have never done Ashtanga vinyasa before and it's, after my first class, not my favourite style. Our schedule for the next 4 weeks was basically 5am wake up, 5:30-6:30 meditation, 6:30-7:30 yoga philosophy 7:30-8:00 tea break, 8:00-9:30 Hatha yoga,9:30-10:30 breakfast, 10:30-12:00 mantra /yoga principles,12:00-15:30 lunch/free time, 15:30-16:30 pranayama, 17:00-18:30 asthanga vinyasa then dinner and free time.
We did some interesting shatkarma's which are types of cleansing's. The one involved sitting in a squatting posture while you are drinking salty/lemon luke warm water, do a couple of yoga postures until you basically start pooing clear water. You have to drink about 2-3 litres. You are not aloud to eat anything for a while and should take a few spoons full of ghee (clarified butter) Yuck! Not one of my favourites, as after the cleanse we made the mistake to go to a local cafe for some herbal tea and I got food poisoning!! I was sick for about 3 days, then I got a head cold and was sick for another 4 days. I wasn't the only one that got ill after the cleanse, so I decided I will rather just stay "dirty" from now on. But seriously it is suppose to be really good for your digestive system. Cleansing and purifying.
We were free on Sundays so explored the local markets and shops. We were also lucky to be there while they celebrate their holi festival. Didn't realise this when I booked the course, so it was a special bonus! It was so much fun, you buy bags of power paint from the shops and throw each other with it. After a while water also gets used, so you look like a soaking wet parrot. Then we rinsed ourselves in the Ganga river. This river is sacred for the locals, but they wash themselves, their clothes and their dishes in it?! Don't know how sacred it is anymore after all that dirt! The month flew past and before we knew it we were qualified yoga teachers!! It was a unforgettable experience. I met some wonderful people and have some incredible memories to take with me.
Me and Emily got a taxi ride back together to the airport when the course finished. We had to catch our taxi on the opposite side of the walk bridge at 3 am! I'm so glad we did it together, as the drive back at night was just an nerve wrecking as the drive there. And we got a flat tire so had to stop on the side of the road in the dark for our driver to change tires. He was a bit arrogant and wanted a tip from us?! We said we don't have any rupees left, which was almost the truth! I had some rupees but wanted to buy food at the airport. And we already paid $80 for the taxi. When he dropped us off we gathered all the change we have, which came to about 35 rupees. But he basically threw it back at us, took our luggage out, probably cursed us and then drove off. After checking in we went straight to the food court and I really felt like some McDonald's and I don't even like macky d's. I only had 75 rupees and a meal was 85 rupees but I HAD TO HAVE THE MEAL. So what did I do? I looked around saw two guys that look like business men, went over there and asked if they have any spare change because I'm just 10 rupees short of buying some food. The one guy without any hesitation reached for his wallet and gave me 10 rupees, voila! And it was the best McDonald's I ever had!
Next stop Thailand.
Ok so Yuri made us a website and each our own blog. Which is great to keep in touch with friends and family but also a great way to communicate with the world! So this is my first blog I've ever written. I'm a bit nervous because firstly I don't know what to write about? Secondly I don't know if I'll be any good at blogging?! Ive never really written anything other than school essays (that I hated) and my personal diary. I have decided I will get over my fears and just start writing, how difficult can it be?!
So I've decided to start this blog with a brief overview of my trip to India. And I will start of by saying WOW what an experience!
The flight from SA was long and I had a four hour stopover in Qatar but that was all good and luxuries looking back now! I finally landed in India about an hour late because my flight ended up being delayed. I was a bit worried because I had a pick up waiting for me. Passport control went quick but I had to wait a long while for my baggage. Because I was so late I didn't even think of exchanging money( I did try in SA but at the airport they didn't have any rupees?) so I rushed out the exit to be welcomed by a hoard of people. I started looking for my name on one of the many name boards held by locals. It was so busy, people shouting and pushing then I finally saw something that looked like my name, it read Tavja?! I had the name of my driver so we sort of exchanged names and he took my trolley and started walking, so I followed him. I started a conversation but soon realised his English was non existent. So before I got into the car with him I tried in my best broken English and body language to say AYM Rishiskesh ( which is where I was going ;Association of yoga and meditation in Rishikesh ) he just smiled nodded his head side to side his ears almost touching his shoulders and said "yes yes". Needless to say this was a bit confusing as a side to side head shake means "no", but I thought ok let's go and see where I end up. We left the airport and I got my first real look of India. I thought mmmhh not that bad. What happened next what something from another world.......