Haere mai ki Aotearoa, welcome to New Zealand

Everybody I know who has been to this land says only beautiful things. All Kiwi people I have met before coming here were super nice, friendly and most of them are amazing musicians. So it’s not a surprise I was very excited to come here.

As it is my habit I started to hitchhike straight from the airport. New Zealand is known as one of the best country for hitchhiking. So far I agree with it. From my experience Europe, Taiwan and Japan are easy and fun too. I did wait a bit outside of the airport, I was in front of a gas station about a kilometer away. Few cars stopped but they were all going to Auckland. After some time one man stopped, he told me he could take me to a highway which was just around the corner. Once you make it to a highway you know you already made it to wherever you were planning to go. This man was originally from Fiji. Unfortunately he wanted to drop me off on the highway, not a gas station, which is very dangerous and illegal. So we went off the highway again. As soon as he dropped me off another car stopped, even though I did not make any afford to hitchhike. The driver told me he works as a security man at the airport and when he saw me getting out of the car he assumed I was a hitchhiker and the place where I was dropped off was not good so he took me to another spot. Soon after I got a ride from a French girl who is here on a working holiday visa. I was thinking about applying for it as well but last minute I have decided to come only on a tourist visa. She will finish her job in about a month so we exchanged contacts and maybe will travel together later on.

After I got a ride from two Kiwi men, son and father. Very nice people, we had really interesting conversations about the country. I asked them about the situation between Maoris and white people which I asked as well another couple who gave me a ride later. I already felt a huge difference comparing to Australia. Of course two completely different cultures will have problems but it is possible to try to solve them peacefully. Relationship between Maoris, the native inhabitants of this land and white people was not always good but many things have changed in the recent years. A lot of land was returned back and now Maoris are the guardians. In their culture they do not believe in owning land, nature is a mother and you cannot own mother. As a first country in the world, New Zealand recognized some parts of its land and rivers as human beings, giving them the highest possible rights and protection. Maori language is one of the official language of New Zealand, it is taught at schools, along with English and sign language.

Everybody I have met so far is very proud and curious about the Maori culture, it is respected and accepted. I spent the first week of my stay in this country around area, Rotorua, which is famous for Maori culture and I was very lucky to spend my time with a Maori person who is now my brother. He taught me a lot, told me about the traditions, habits, we cooked a traditional meal – hangi and sang songs together. I was signing Czech songs and he was teaching me Maori music which I love. He took me to his village where he used to live. There are some places which are called living villages where Maori people open their homes to others so we can learn about them and they show traditional dances, haka. It is a win-win situation, foreigners can experience the culture and it brings money to the locals.

This land and its people are very special. There is so much we all can learn from them. How to treat each other and take care of the environment. It is a common part of everyday life to recycle, people respect the nature and don’t throw the trash outside. Rubbish can be recycled, nature can not. It is one of the first country I have been to where I see a lot of people doing outside sports. Running, jogging and mountain biking are very common. Normally when I go hiking in other countries which is called tramping in New Zealand I don’t see many people. There are always some people on the tracks here, a lot of elders as well. It is so peaceful and relaxing. The weather hasn’t been very good since I came here, I think about 70% of the time it rains but that’s what makes this country so green and beautiful. So if you ever decide to visit this land, be prepared, waterproof jacket and shoes are must. It is not unusual to experience different kinds of weather within a day – sun, rain, strong wind and sun again. Especially Wellington, the Capitol is a master of changing weather.

I try to go hiking every day, if the weather permits. There are few walks which are called the Great walks of New Zealand, I have already done two of them and getting ready to start a third one. First one was around the Waikaremoana lake, it was a guided tour. Very beautiful and I enjoyed it a lot. Second one is probably the most famous in the whole country – Tongariro crossing. I have heard about it a lot, have seen some pictures but I did not expect to see such a unique and diverse nature. It was probably the most beautiful walk I have ever done. Not very difficult so I think almost everybody is able to experience it.

I spent the last week around Wellington, waiting for a good weather to take a ferry to the South Island and start adventures there. People say South Island is completely different from the north. The nature, even the people, I have been told people in the south are more nicer but to be honest I cannot imagine somebody being more friendly, relaxed and happy than people in the north. While coming to Wellington one of the driver took me to a deer farm, I had a chance to play with them and also feed them, it was fun. This man was so nice, stopping along the way to show me interesting places and give me time to take pictures. As a hitchhiker I always take the opportunity to talk to people about the world, about places I have been to, especially areas which are not common to visit. You won’t believe what looks people give me when I tell them I have been to Iran. It is a very beautiful, safe country with super friendly and hospitable people.

I spent one week around the Tongariro National park staying in an army base. It was an interesting experience. Walking around military areas where soldiers are training, tanks passing by but also enjoying the luxury the camp provides – gym and heated swimming pool.

I have seen two interesting movies since I came here – White lies and The dark horse. Both of them are from New Zealand. People recommended me to read few books about Maoris and Europeans who came here. They said it will help me to understand the whole situation and also why the relationship between them is so different from Australia. The books are Making peoples, Paradise reforged and The fatal shore. Reading can seriously damage our ignorance so try to find at least few minutes a day to read a good book. ♡


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Help the world to become better, make it a little more beautiful

When I was a child I thought I was from a poor family. I never had what my friends had, we didn’t go on holidays abroad but I was never hungry, I always had a roof over my head, I went to school and had access to health care. When I started to travel I experienced the real poverty, I saw horrible conditions people had to live in and I couldn’t believe that in 21st century there are places where people don’t have access to safe drinking water, enough nutritious food and toilet. The most shocking fact is that it takes very little to help those people but still they don’t get the help they need. Maybe they receive some help but it makes them to be more dependent on others. People don’t need to be saved or rescued. People need knowledge of their own power and how to access it.

When I was about to enter my plane in Perth one lady approached me, she volunteers for Doctors Without Borders. We had a little chat. I told her I am a Traveller and she asked me about few countries she is curious and would like to visit. After 20 minutes she was about to say goodbye to me but I asked her what is she doing at the airport. They are looking for supporters and immediately she added, you are a Traveller so you don’t have money. I looked at her and said – because I am privileged to be on the road for many years now I should be one of the first who help. It’s true I am not able to help much financially, I prefer to volunteer, to donate my time and skills but also because through my volunteering experiences I have met many people who work with them, I trust this organization. It is not about how much you can give, every penny counts and if I am able to support them with a zero income you can do it as well. ♡

I am not trying to promote this organization. I have been working close to them so I feel I can trust them and I admire their job. Do your own research and find an organization/project/person you would like to support. You might think $1 a day is nothing but there are many countries where people have to survive with even less. People who were lucky to be born in safe, rich countries should take the responsibility and help those who were less fortunate. There is enough food, enough wealth, enough of everything to share with others. It is very easy to make decisions about people who struggle from our comfortable couches. Why so many people are happy living in their own bubble ignoring others needs and basic rights?

I would like to talk about something which makes me very unhappy every time I hear about it. People volunteering abroad and paying for it. Please, understand volunteering is for helping others not yourself. I know it looks cool on your social media when you post a picture from teaching at school or helping in an orphanage but it is important to realize that many times volunteers do not help at all. They come and go, stay for a week or two, maybe a month and then disappear. What kind of message do you give to those children? They are not able to build a proper relationship, all they learn is that whoever they start to like and trust leaves at the end. Please, stop paying for your volunteer jobs. Why would you work for free and even pay for doing so. It is just a business and you keep local people away from getting a job to survive just to make your CV looks better. Would you pay someone for work somebody else is willing to do for free and on the top of it even willing to pay for it? You are destroying local economies by supporting volunteering businesses.

Having accommodation and food in exchange for your work is a different story. I did many different types of volunteering, every country is a different story. I try to help a bit every place I go. By helping I don’t mean just working for NGOs but even talking to people, spreading awareness. I still remember the time during my last visit in India. I talked a lot to people about environment and why they should not throw rubbish on the street. The same in China, my mum started to call me an environmental activist. I used mainly trains in India to move from one place to another. There is a special compartment for ladies but unfortunately mostly occupied by men. Women are not happy about it but they are raised to listen and obey their fathers and husbands so they are quiet. I was the only one asking men to leave. Local ladies smiled and nodded but did not say anything. I was trying to talk to them, encourage them to speak up and after some time few of them did. We need to get together, be strong and support each other.

I know it can be a bit challenging to find a volunteer work abroad. Actually you don’t need to travel far to help, what about volunteering in your own community? Look for NGO’s in your area, look when you walk around. Help elder people with their shopping bags, to cross a street or give up a seat for them. Smile at people around you. All these little things count. We all want to do big things, change the world but we forget about everyday life struggles. By changing ourselves we change the world.

If you would like to have an experience from a foreign country, in my opinion, the best is to travel abroad and once you reach ask around. There are always a lot of possibilities how to help. You can join a local organization or make your own project. I also do understand it can be stressful for some people to blindly go abroad with no plans but if you can get over the fear you will be rewarded by meeting beautiful people. Don’t be afraid to talk to people. You have friends everywhere just look around you. One website I use to look up interesting projects or people to volunteer with is www.workaway.info.

When you do decide to go abroad, for a weekend trip, holiday, exchange program, work, volunteering or any other reason, try to interact with the local people. Talk to them, smile, be open minded, have a little conversation. See the beauty around so when you go back to the place where you live, you can tell your friends and your family about the beautiful people you have met, about the different culture you have learnt about. Every country, every culture, every person has its beauty. Traveling is not just about seeing beautiful architecture and tasting delicious food but also about interaction with locals. I feel that the responsibility of every traveler is to show people how beautiful and diverse our planet is. Don’t sit at home because your government and media are trying to frighten you, telling you the world is a scary place with dangerous people. In my opinion if people would travel more, the world would be more peaceful place because we fear only what we don’t know. We have brothers and sisters everywhere. ♡

Help the world to become better. Don’t leave the world just the same as you have found it. Make it a little better, make it a little more beautiful. ♡

 


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Life in ashram in a Western country

I found a place which I thought only existed in my dreams. The perfect combination of both worlds – spirituality, wisdom and knowledge of the east and comfort, safety and respect from the west.

I was curious to spend some time in an ashram outside of Perth. I reached the point when I was missing India a lot again. To be honest if my bestfriend did not want to meet up in Australia I would definitely go to India after Myanmar. I was so close, yet so far away. We supposed to go to Australia last year but I have decided to not get on my plane so we had to change plans, I suggested to meet in India so this year was time for Australia.

It all make sense to me now. Everything is just the way it suppose to be and I am exactly where I am supposed to be. For the first time in my life I found a place where I can imagine to live but of course that does not mean I will stay and stop traveling. It is a beautiful feeling though which I haven’t experienced before. I feel very relaxed, happy and calm.

This ashram is quite busy. I wake up around 6.15am to go to Satsang room for meditation which starts at 6.30am and lasts for an hour. We always have somebody who leads the meditation. Then we have breakfast. The kitchen here is amazing, it is huge and you can find anything in here. Different kinds of fruits, vegetables, nuts, dried fruits, cheese, jams, breads, oats, muesli, different kinds of spreads, all types of plant milks and home made yoghurt. I usually eat a bowl of fruits or muesli with this delicious yoghurt.

Then is time for a karma yoga. All of us do some tasks either gardening, cleaning or cooking. At 9.30am is a yoga class, there are many different teachers and they are all amazing. The classes are different than in India but probably easier to understand. After every class I treat myself to fresh figs straight from a tree. We finish our karma yoga and have lunch at 12.30. Everybody wait for each other and then we say a prayer together before meal. Every day a different person cooks, it is always super delicious, mainly vegan but definitely strictly vegetarian. After lunch we relax. There is a huge library with different kinds of books about spirituality, religions, yoga, meditation, healthy food and healthy lifestyle. I take advantage of it and read a lot. We are very close to a beach but I went there only once I am just super happy at the ashram. It is pretty liberal not strict like the other ashrams I have stayed in India. Everyone is very friendly, easy going and it is full of positive energy.

There is another yoga class at 4.30pm till 6pm then dinner. We usually have leftovers from lunch or anybody is free to take anything they want. There is another yoga class at 6.30pm but normally I skip it. Few times I had 3 yoga classes which means 4,5 hours a day and it makes me tired. Also it is not good to exercise after dinner and if I did go I would eat at 8pm which is also not good. The main reason why I would decide to skip the last yoga class is that there is always a program in the evening. Spiritual talks, watching movies about significant sages, scholars, yogis and Mystics of 20th and 21st century, Ayurvedic classes, studying yoga sutras of patanjali, chanting or discussion groups.

We had a salt water party on Saturday. It is a very good time now to clean our bodies or to do a fasting because of the change of season. So we have decided to clean our bodies with salt water. It is a yogic practice. We cleaned our noses, tried to clean upper part of the body which I did not manage because I don’t like vomiting and I was not able to do it. After drinking about 3 liters of salted water and 5 different asanas – yoga postures, everything came out. Then we massaged our bodies with sesame oil. It is very good to clean your mouth with it to get all the toxins out of your body. We put the oil everywhere, inside the nose, inside the ears, in hair and after 20 minutes washed it. Then we had about an hour of relaxation with music. Afterwards it’s important to have a proper lunch. All the salt scratched our stomachs a bit so we cooked rice with daal – red lentils and ghee. It was perfect. I felt very refreshed, light and full of energy.

I have met so many inspirational people here, one lady just started to attend a university, she is 64 years old and one man who is 84, very fit and healthy shared his knowledge about nutrition and how he uses food as medicine. I learnt many new things and got information about other spiritual communities in Australia and USA. It is actually very interesting, since I was a little child I always felt like Australia is going to be my home one day. That is the main reason why I did not come here earlier, I was a bit worried I would like it too much and stop traveling. If I came here last year, as it was planned I would probably not like it much and I would not look for this ashram. I spent more time in India instead and continued my journey through Asia. When I reached Australia I have experienced the biggest culture shock of my life and it took me few weeks to get used to the life here. Just at the end of my stay, the last two weeks I have managed to stay in the ashram. Since I’ve stepped inside I felt very peaceful. It is so nice to be surrounded by like-minded people so I don’t have to explain myself all the time and it’s amazing to have people around me who respect their environment, are conscious about their actions and surroundings. Most of the people have travelled quite a lot and many of them have spent some time in India, visiting or studying. I still get asked about my traveling and way of managing everything which I don’t mind at all.

For the first time in my life I cried on my mat. It was so liberating, just letting go. I have some emotional blockages from the past and I have managed to work on them through yoga. I always learn something new about myself during the practice. It is interesting because by watching other people during yoga class you can learn so much about them. It shows their personality, their approach to life and sometimes some emotional, mental or physical blockages can appear and yoga mat is the best place to deal with them. We also practiced a lot of breathing exercises. I don’t really have any health issues, the only problem are shoulders because of my backpack. I carry my home with me all the time so sometimes it gets tense but during the last two weeks my shoulders, neck and back got a lot of strength.

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Everything is possible because if you can dream it you can also live it

I was very lucky to experience different kinds of travel styles in Australia. Cars, trucks, road train, camper and heavy vehicles. While hitchhiking I met many amazing people, visited beautiful places and had unique experiences which can happen only in Australia.

I am happy I was able to see koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, lizards, dolphins, emus, different kinds of birds and fish all in their natural habitat. Luckily I did not see any snakes or spiders but I did experience many annoying flies and I got a lot of bites, some of them got infected, some of them created blisters and I had to leave the area.

Hitchhiking is always an adventure. Western Australia is so unpredictable and the distances between places are so big you never know where will you end up. One day I ended up in the middle of nowhere at about 4pm. That’s not a good sign because the sun goes down around 7pm and most people don’t drive after sunset because kangaroos and cows are crossing the roads. I told myself I would not take a ride if the driver is not able to drop me off at a petrol station. Well rules are made to be broken so after waiting for sometime I did get a ride to a middle of nowhere. The positive thing is it was a ride in a road train. Since I came here I always wanted to experience it but nobody ever stopped. That day I found out why. They are not aloud to have passengers and most of them have cameras in their cabin.

 

Even though there were few cars on the road, maybe four in an hour I still had a hope I would make it to the next petrol station or a town. After two hours of waiting I started to be a little nervous. I didn’t mind the place but I would mind all the animals that come alive during the night. I would get a heart attack if a spider or snake crawl over me while I was trying to fall asleep. I know things are getting serious when I start to pray to my brother and angels. Last time I did it was about 6 months ago when I got lost in mountains in Taiwan. So I was asking them to help, to make sure I have a safe place to sleep. I have decided to try to hitchhike in both directions because I reached a point I didn’t really care if I would go back, I just wanted to make sure I don’t have to sleep at the place where I was. Soon after that a man in a truck stopped. He told me his friend is coming in another car behind him and he will take me to the next petrol station. When we reached they asked me if I was looking for a job. I told them I wasn’t, I was just trying to get down south. They went for dinner and asked me to think about it. It would get dark soon and the petrol station did not look very friendly, no camping aloud and the cheapest room, which I was told is not very nice, cost over 150 dollars. So I asked them if I could go with them for a day and they agreed.

We drove to a cattle station. It was a very interesting experience. I slept outside. I was very happy about it, I wanted to camp in Western Australia but because it’s very hot here it is not the best idea now. This was even better, we slept under the stars. Temperatures in a desert drop down drastically during the night so it was even a bit chilly. I am a chicken so I asked another guy to sleep next to me, to feel safer and protected just in case some animals show up. We were watching the southern cross in the sky, the one which is on Australian flag and is possible to see only from the Southern Hemisphere. Next day I was helping them around the station, I really enjoyed it. I was super excited to get to drive different kinds of heavy vehicles and experience a lifestyle of Cowboys. Later we went for a swim to a nearby creek. The day after they gave me a lift to the next town which was 300 kms away.

 

I left my backpack at information centre and hitchhiked to a beach. On the way back I got a ride from a tour bus. There were three tourists on it from Taiwan. You know I love this country so much so I was really happy to meet them. I found out we had the same direction of travel and they had a camper so I joined them for few days. It was very interesting. Traveling by camper is probably the best way of exploring Australia apart from hitchhiking, of course. We cooked dishes together, explored few places, shared laughs and really enjoyed the time together.

I don’t have a bucket list because I am just happy to be on the road and experience whatever it brings to me but I have to say I am very grateful I had a chance to experience all the things I was thinking would be nice to do/see while in Australia. Everything is possible because if you can dream it you can also live it. ♡


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Respect the environment and other animals living on the planet

Interacting with animals is always fun. It is important to not harm them and respect their natural habitat. I was very happy when I found out it is possible to see dolphins on the west coast of Australia, not in an aquarium.

I did swim with dolphins before. When I was in Bahamas I had a chance to play with them for about an hour. It was amazing but back than I did not realize it was wrong. Those Dolphins were kept for entertaining humans. I remember they told us they have only two tours a day so they can relax but still they will never be able to go home, into the wild, they will not survive. They got used to being fed by people. The place in Australia, Monkey Mia, is different. There is a team of professionals and volunteers doing a research about dolphins, helping, protecting and feeding them a bit. They give them 1 kilo of fish a day but they need about 12 kilos so the dolphins still need to get the rest of the food by themselves. There are no tricks, no touching aloud because we have bacterias on our hands which will harm them, it is just to enjoy the interaction. I was lucky to be picked among another hundred of tourists to feed a dolphin, her name was Surprise.

I also went on a snorkeling tour. Saw many different kinds of fish, different colors, shapes and sizes. Our guide found few turtles so we were able to swim with them. We also saw mantras and beautiful corals. It is important to not leave any footprints, just enjoy being part of the beautiful biodiversity the earth offers.

The coastline of Western Australia is stunning. There are beautiful beaches everywhere. Many creeks, lagoons and hidden paradises. The water is crystal clear and luckily the more south you go the temperature drops down a bit.

There are many things I have experienced for the first time in Australia. One of them is hitchhiking in 50 degrees. I did not even realize it was so hot, I was sitting right on the sun for about an hour or two and when I got a ride the driver told me how hot it was. I think I got used to the weather which is kind of funny because now I feel cold when the temperature is about 25 degrees. I still did not get used to AC and I am happy I did not. If I feel really hot, fan is enough, it is better for the environment.

Recently I read an interesting article about easy ways how to reduce our impact on the environment. Things like caring our own mug, food container and spoon can help a lot and I always have some with me. I have learnt something new. I did not know you should unplug your charger if you don’t use it because it still takes some energy. It is silly when people leave TV or lights on if they leave the room. I know you don’t mind the bill, you can pay for it but most of us don’t realize the damage it makes. Another easy thing to do is to carry a water bottle and refill it everywhere you go. It might take time to find a drinking fountain or safe water to refill your bottle. Sometimes tap water is ok, sometimes I need to use drops to clean it but it saves thousands of plastic bottles a year.

We live in a world which keeps on telling us to consume things as much as possible. Buy new phones, TVs and other electronics every few months, keep on buying new clothes. I really don’t get it, what for? I usually change my clothes once a year maybe not even that and when I get something new I buy second hand stuff.

Reduce, reuse, recycle and repair. Respect and enjoy the environment and other animals living on the planet. ♡


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Aussie style of living

Australia is an interesting country to visit. People are very chilled, super friendly and help and care about each other. If you are looking for a meaning of the word easygoing, Aussies are definitely the best example.

At the beginning I had a hard time with the language. Ok, my English is not perfect but normally I don’t have any problem to have conversation and communicate with people. Australian accent is very different and I think because they are so far away from everybody else their language does not mix much with the others. Usually people don’t pronounce very well, they mumble a lot, so all I heard was “blblblblblbl”. They speak super fast so one sentence sounds like a word and the worst is they make shortcuts for everything. Brekkie = breakfast, barbie = barbecue, jarmies = pyjamas, sunnies = sunglasses, mozzie = mosquito. The most interesting part of Aussie language is their own vocabulary. If somebody would ask you to pass a dead horse, would you know what they want? They are just asking for a ketchup. Chips are French fries. Esky is a portable cooler. My favorite one is spud, I would never guess it’s a potato. Nana is a grandmother and poppy is a grandfather. Thongs are an Aussie way of saying flip flops. They wear them to the beach, down to the local shops, to a barbecue or just about anywhere. It is very common to use acronyms, for example CBD – central business district which means the city centre, downtown, BYO – bring your own food/drinks. I think everybody I have met has a middle name and it is also usual to use acronyms for names, for example John Paul – JP.

At the beginning of my stay I couldn’t get used to the fact that everybody speaks English. It is so easy to ask for directions, have a little chat or ask for anything. After years of traveling through countries where English is not the first language and places where people speak no English I have learnt how to use “sign language”. Using my hands and legs to express myself. I still remember when I was looking for a Gangnam style statue in Seoul, the capital of South Korea. I knew it was somewhere in the area where I was so I went to ask a security man in front of a hotel. He did not understand me. So I started to do the Gangnam style dance, he smiled and showed me the way.

Australians like to drink a cup of tea and their main meal of the day is dinner. Rich variety of words for beer and drinking show how important it is for them. It is the first country I have heard about police testing drivers not just on alcohol but also cannabis. They don’t really have their own traditional dish but they love barbecues. The cuisine is a mixture of everything. You can easily find restaurants from all around the world in big cities. Fast food is pretty popular and it is common to call Mc Donald’s – Macca’s and Burger King is Hungry Jack.

It is common to drive very long distances just for a party, visit or a day trip. Few hundred kilometers are considered normal. Australia is so remote it’s hard to imagine if you haven’t experienced it. It can happen you drive for hours and don’t meet anybody.

From my experience local men are real gentlemen. I always felt very comfortable, safe, protected and respected. They make sure you know they are ready to help you at any time but they would not push you to let them do things for you if you don’t want. I feel like people here are super friendly and chatty. It is common to start to talk with strangers on a street or while passing by in a car.

The most favorite place to visit is Bali. It is very close and good spot for surfing. Most people surf here. The sport started in Hawaii but after introducing it to Aussies they quickly became one of the best. It make sense with hundreds of kilometers of beautiful beaches all around the country.

One thing that makes me sad is that you don’t really see white people interacting with the Aboriginals. I still remember beaches where Aboriginals were swimming on one side then there was a big gap and white people on the other side.

Everything in Australia is big. Big houses, big cars and big TVs. Almost everybody who I visited at home have some kind of a home cinema with a huge plasma screen. Every household has a barbecue grill in a garden and a fridge full of chilled drinks.

I always thought Europeans are the ones who love rules but Aussies are the champions! There is a rule about everything and just to make it a bit more complicated they vary from different states.


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Hitchhiking through Western Australia

During the last month I was relaxing and enjoying the comfortable life Australia offers. It is nice to have a car but I prefer to use a bicycle or hitchhike if the distance is longer. I have decided to visit a place about 800 kms away from the area where I was, I could have used the car but that would take all the fun and adventure out of it.

My friend gave me a ride for the first 200 kms, I stayed at his place and he dropped me off at a petrol station outside the town in early morning. I was super excited. I haven’t hitchhiked since I moved to Western Australia. When we hitchhiked around Sydney and Melbourne we had great experience and met really interesting people. It was easy, a lot of traffic and even though there were 3 of us we never waited for a long time. Western Australia is completely different though. It is not a touristic season now because it’s summer so the temperatures are around 35degrees or more. One of the reason I have decided to come here is because I knew there would be few people and also because not many people come to explore this part of the country. It is beautiful here, very different.

I hitchhiked in many countries and never had a problem to get a ride. This was the first time when I waited for 5 hours. Nobody was going to Broome, the place I was going to. It is a 600 kms drive with nothing between, only two petrol stations, that’s it. I talked to few people who passed by and they told me it is not common to hitchhike here but people usually say that everywhere. Once the sun was up and strong I started to wish for meeting Europeans. They would give me a ride, I thought. In few minutes a taxi driver stopped, originally from Turkey. He was going to Broome in 2 days. He gave me his business card and told me if I don’t get a ride to call him, I could stay with his family and we will travel together. After some time another driver came to me, he was going to Broome the next day. He told me he will look for me, if he finds me, he will give me a ride. I was very happy to meet them but I still had a hope I would make it that day. I went to get a snack and another car stopped at the petrol station, a man from Sweden, my hero of the day. He was also a tourist, heading to Broome so he gave me a ride.

It took us about 6 hours to reach. It was a very interesting ride. Until than I did not realize how remote Australia is, this is probably one of the most remote area in the whole world. There is not even a mobile signal so if something goes wrong with your car you can’t call for help. We had very interesting conversations about many different topics and stopped at a petrol station for a snack. Imagine a petrol station in the middle of nowhere, there is nothing 300 kms from each side. I had a good laugh when I saw a big sticker saying recommended by Tripadvisor, on a main door. Well, nothing else is around. They call it a roadhouse. Foreigners work here on a working holiday visa. I had a little chat with girls working there, they told me it is a good way how to save money, well there is no way to spend any money because there is nothing. I can’t imagine to live there. We sat outside and enjoyed our snack surrounded by beautiful birds and peacocks. The beauty of Australia is the flora, fauna and landscapes you won’t find in different parts of the world. I am always amazed when I look around.

The driver dropped me off at a visitor centre in Broome. I loved this place from the first moment, really nice community. They have the oldest running cinema in the world, it is famous for pearl industry, beautiful beaches and dinosaurs footprints. They have a really nice market during the weekends and there are very friendly and super relaxed people everywhere. It was pretty quiet, the season will start at the end of March. I prefer it like this. I met a man who works as a flying doctor. I have never heard about it before, another Australian speciality. Because there are many remote areas where mainly aboriginal communities live they don’t have access to any health care. Fortunately everybody knows about this service and call them in case of emergency. He was telling me about a lot of interesting experiences and we discussed the situation of aboriginals. We have a pretty different opinion but it was interesting to talk about it with someone with a different point of view.

I had a bicycle so could freely move around. It was beautiful to ride and meditate by the coastline. I would go to the beach every evening to watch sunset. Sunsets are always special but the experience here was even stronger. There were huge storms every day around sunset time. I have never experienced anything like this before. Imagine you are watching a beautiful sunset and there is lightening all around you which lasts up to few seconds. Unfortunately I don’t have a camera to capture this natural beauty, it will stay in my memory.

Western Australia has problems with roads. Every time it rains a bit more there are parts which get flooded. It is important to mention there is only one road, so if the road is closed you are stuck. It was raining the whole night before I was going back south so I wasn’t sure if I could make it through and because there is nothing between we would be stuck in the middle of nowhere. Number 1 rule in Australia, always take a lot of water with you, at least 5 liters to make sure you stay hydrated in case of emergency or when you hitchhike. I was a bit worried and people were telling me to stay. I have decided to try my luck. My friend dropped me off outside the city at 6am. I looked around and there was nothing, no people, no houses, no cars. So I kept on looking from left to right, dancing and singing by the road until I saw the first car. He is going to stop, I thought, everybody knows there is a little traffic now but he passed by. Another car stopped and the driver took me all the way to my destination, 800 kilometers. Really nice guy, he even invited me to stay with his family. It was a great ride, nice conversations, I discovered new music and new information about this country.

Don’t give up because the situation looks difficult. The universe always falls in love with stubborn heart. Don’t be afraid of what could go wrong and start being excited about what could go right.

Whatever you decide to do, wherever you are, make sure you are all there. ♡


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How to avoid government fees for Bagan, Inle and other useful information before you go to Myanmar

Myanmar is quickly developing but there are still some situations which can make your stay a bit more complicated if you are not prepared.

It can be very difficult to withdraw money from ATM. Most of them don’t work and paying by card is not accepted. It is important to have cash which you can exchange in the country, preferably American dollars. I spent all my cash in Thailand so I entered with no money thinking I could withdraw anywhere. It took me 3 days to find a working ATM!

I entered Myanmar through the boarder city with Thailand, Myawaddy/Mae sot. It is very easy to reach it by bus, either from Bangkok or Chiang Mai. Make sure you have a visa, it’s not possible to get it on arrival. You can apply for it online or in Bangkok/Chiang Mai. The process is very easy, you just have to fill out one form, bring a photograph and it shouldn’t take more than 3 days to get it. The visa fee recently raised up to 60 dollars. It allows you to stay in the country for 28 days. There is another option for overland crossing, through Mae Sai/Tachileik. I was planning to cross through Mae Sai but last minute, I mean super last minute, few minutes before I left my hostel in Chiang Mai I found out that after crossing the boarder you are only aloud to go as far as Kengtung which is about 150 kms up north and from there you have to take a flight, it is not permitted to go overland. The flights to other parts of the country cost around 200 dollars.

There is limited access to Internet and electricity, even some hotels for foreigners don’t provide it 24/7 so it’s a good idea to bring a power bank and buy a local SIM card for using wifi. Foreigners can stay only in hotels which have special permission. Also be ready to pay 50% more for accommodation than the locals. Staying in a dormitory starts at 6-10 dollars.

Buses running between the main cities are very modern. I was hitchhiking most of the time but I also took a night bus 3 times to save some time and it was amazing. Very comfortable, a lot of space for legs, most of them provide pillow, blanket and water. I had a very good sleep. They all stop for meals. I would highly recommend to take a train as well at least once. The most beautiful roads are from Mandalay to Hsipaw and from Thazi to Inle. I took the one from Mandalay. The train leaves every day at 4am, you can buy the ticket on the same day. You see a beautiful sunrise and different kind of sceneries, hill stations, waterfalls, local villages and also a famous railway bridge between two mountains, Goitek viaduct. The train stops often for snacks and tea.

It is ok to do hiking by yourself, I had an offline map with me which showed all the roads. The application I am using is maps.me. We hiked alone around Kalaw and it was amazing. We had super delicious food along the way from local people who invited us to join them, we slept in a local monastery and stayed in a village which is not used to having foreigners. To our surprise they had a pool table in the middle of the mountains. Only men were playing and enjoying the evening. We watched TV with children. Many people invited us to stay at their place. Along the way we also hitchhiked few times, we had very random rides – ox cart, sugar cane tractor and we sat on the top of a truck.

I was surprised that nobody ever mentioned the fees you suppose to pay when entering Bagan – $20 and Inle lake – $10. We met many people before we went there but nobody said anything. Of course I would be happy to pay the fee if the money goes to preserving the temples in Bagan and improving, cleaning the area of Inle lake. This fee is only for foreigners and the money goes to the army. I don’t agree with it and didn’t want to support it so I found a way how to bypass the system. Probably the easiest way is to hitchhike. Nobody would think foreigners are in a car with locals. For Inle lake there is only one road which has a toll station where all the tourist buses stop, Shwenyaung-Nyaungshwe road. If you avoid that road there are no more toll stations. We were hitchhiking from Kalaw and asked our driver to drop us off at the previous road – Inle lake West corridor road, then stopped other cars. For Bagan I took an overnight bus from Inle and asked the driver to drop me off at Kyaukpadaung. I hitchhiked from there to a small town, Chauk, which was really nice. I assume they don’t get many tourists there from the way they looked at me and treated me. It was a really nice experience. There is a road from Chauk to Bagan so I hitchhiked again. A car with two monks stopped. I still wasn’t sure if I can enter Bagan without the fee but after entering the car I knew it was safe. Even if there was a toll station, they wouldn’t stop monks. When you pay the fee you get a ticket which you suppose to show at your hotel and some temples but for now nobody is asking for it.

People drive on the right side of the road but most of the time the cars are made for driving on the left. So when I was hitchhiking I experienced some funny situations when I had to help the drivers because they couldn’t see anything.

Next post will be about my adventure and experience in this beautiful country. If you are planning to visit Myanmar, go soon because it will change quickly with tourism.


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Myanmar, a hidden beauty of South East Asia

There is not much information about this country on Internet yet. As any other place it has to be explored by travelers/backpackers first who will inspire tourists to come. They will come for sure because this country has so much to offer, some people say it’s like Thailand 20 years ago. The food is amazing, people are very friendly, there is so much to see – beautiful untouched nature, Buddhist monasteries, temples, lakes. There are many great places for trekking, motorbike rides and hitchhiking is so easy and fun.

Burmese food is one of the best I have ever tried. Their tea leaves salad, different kinds of curries, fresh fruits, amazing sweets, different styles of rice dishes – after spending so much time in Asia I got addicted to rice, have to eat it at least once a day, wouldn’t complain if it’s more times. People here drink a lot of Chinese tea, it comes for free with any dish.

People of Myanmar are super friendly, always smiling and very curious about foreigners. Sometimes they come up to you to chat a little bit, practice English or take a picture with you. I was very surprised how easy going and open minded they are. Considering they were under British influence along with India for quite a long time and the fact that they recently opened to the world. Interaction between men and women is not a problem, it is common to see young couples holding hands. Every morning most people put natural sun lotion paste on their face, thanaka, especially for women it is kind of a fashion, you can see many different styles. A lot of men and women wear traditional clothing, a longyi. It is a sheet of cloth which is also typical for India and Sri Lanka. It’s about 2 metres long and 80 centimetres wide and usually has a cylindrical shape. It is worn around waist where it’s folded over without making a knot. Men sometimes fold it up to knees for more comfort.

There are many monasteries everywhere. It is a great way how to learn about Buddhist culture, monks and their life. At the beginning people told me I won’t be able to stay there because I am a woman but I did not give up. One of the important thing I’ve learnt from traveling is always ask more people and even do your own research, try what you would like to accomplish. What people tell you is not a fact, it is their opinion, their way of seeing the world. At the end I stayed in two monasteries, one of them for few days, meditating, praying and collecting food in the morning with monks.

There are also many temples around the country. A famous city, Bagan, is the biggest Buddhist archeological site in the world. There are over 2000 temples, originally there were even more, around 10 000, many of them were damaged during earthquakes. You can rent a motorbike or bicycle. I got a bicycle and it was really fun riding around the whole day, seeing beautiful sunsets and sunrises. Even within the city you can easily interact with locals and see how they live. It is very easy, you need to get of the main road, closer to the river. Just by walking around I got invited to a local school and cooked with locals. The sad part is you see beautiful, new hotels for tourists and just next to it really simple shelters where locals live, often without electricity. The whole country has a big problem with electricity, I’ve been told they have enough but the government sells it to foreign countries.

The same situation is with another famous place, Inle lake. Really beautiful area with a lot of culture and the most famous temple in the country. Some people try to avoid touristic places like Bagan and Inle but it is important to realise that tourists follow the same path, the same places they read about in their Lonely planet book. They go to the same temples and do the same tours so just by doing it a bit in alternative way you can discover the real culture with no other foreigners around you. That’s how I like to see places, I find it more authentic. I will write some tips in the next post.

There are few amazing places for trekking, the famous ones are around Hsipaw and from Kalaw to Inle. At both places people advise you to take a guide but you can do it by yourself. In Hsipaw people tried to scare us because the situation in the north is not very stable. There are still fights happening between the army/government and people who are against them. Both sides put land mines in this area. If you stay along the main roads and ask in villages, it is safe. There are soldiers everywhere, they don’t want any foreigners to get hurt so they will not let you enter an area which might be dangerous. If you go by yourself make sure you have a map. The good thing is you can stay wherever you want, this is a great opportunity to try to stay in local monasteries, eat with locals, even hitchhike along the way. There is also a big problem with Rohingya muslim people from Bangladesh. These people live here for many generations but were not accepted by the Burmese government and the people. They are not welcome in Myanmar but also not in Bangladesh. Their villages are being burnt, people killed and when OSN asked Aung San Suu Kyi, the current prime minister who used to be my hero, about this situation she said nothing like this is happening. So sad. She has sacrificed her life for the country, suffered a lot, was in a home prison for many years, even won a Nobel prize for peace and now is lying about genocide in her own country. Interesting fact is that she was elected as a president during the last election but according to the constitution she cannot lead the country because she was married to a foreigner, a British man.

One thing I would really advise to do while being in Myanmar is to take a train. The scenery is stunning. The ride is very slow, wagons shake a lot and stop many times for snacks. It will take the whole day to move about 100 kms but it’s completely worth it. You can also interact with locals, they will be very happy. I would suggest to buy a ticket for the highest class, it still costs very little, just to have some comfort and you can always move around the train. Be ready, there might be some mice too but they are nice.

I think now more than ever it is important for people to travel, to experience different cultures and stay open minded. At times when countries close their boarders, when people start to be afraid of their own neighbors instead of helping those who were not so fortunate and were born in countries with less opportunities. Once you leave your comfort zone you will find out that the information you get about foreign countries and people at home is not true. There are no strangers, only friends you haven’t met yet. ♡


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