Back on track

Time started passing. Slowly at first, when I was still surprise-visiting friends I hadn’t seen for a long time and enjoyed western comforts like a hot shower and a fluffy blanket.
But it started running faster and faster as the frustrations of finding a fulltime job in a financial recession grew. And the daily grind, the general state of “meh”, snuck up on me.

Remember how I was writing I felt a vibration in the air, like something spiritual was upon me, like something big was about to happen, when I had just settled on Bali?
I lost that…

Even though it’s great to see my Hillywood friends (when I do) Holland isn’t giving me what I came for. And I said that if the job at the coffee-corner wasn’t going through I’d be out of here. So when they had to let me go last weekend due to too little business, I made some changes.

Like my flight date; going back to my love two months sooner (still five months too late) on July 8th.
I could stay those extra two months, to spend more time with friends and family, but it’s not like we’re going to see more of each other, be honest guys. There would just be more teary scenes in August instead of in June.
Besides, we did all those already, remember? I left for indefinite last October. Only to come back now for cleaning- and picking up my last things and to quick-feed my funds.

I said goodbye to the Netherlands, Europe, the Western world because I grew tired of that tunnel vision way of life, the each-for-their-own (no, this does not apply to most people I know, so don’t take it personal! But it does apply to most people that make up our society) and the general life-philosophy: work/money/status first, doing what makes you happy and helping others after. This competitive, individualistic, indoors life is not for me.

So I left the dull, organized, bureaucratic life of the West. And now I find myself caught in that rat-race again.
I want out. I want to do my own thing again. I want my freedom back, my flipflops; no more walls and closed doors.

I was set for the adventure of a new culture, a different pace, another time zone.
And I met someone I want to start the adventure of a family with. And skype is great, we spend a lot of time together getting to know more of each other and our future plans. But it is frustrating too; there is just nothing like the smell or touch of your significant other, missing that is driving us both mad. And building towards a future is difficult living on different sides of the globe.

Also, I’m very happy and grateful my folks are letting me stay with them. But at some point you’re just too old to be living with your parents.

It turned out going back to wealthy Europe to make money wasn’t the best idea. With unemployment rocketing skyhigh my broad but undeep experience and lack of bachelor diploma it is nearly impossible to find a job.

So to enhance my chances at finding income in Asia while we’re working towards our own paradise, I’ve stared a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course.
I’ve always entertained the idea of teaching. The memories of my weeks in Samroang, Cambodia with those eager little students, are very happy ones; a very rewarding experience! And at the time I already said I would like to do this for a longer period to actually make that difference.
Studying for it now makes me very excited to get going all over again.

To top it off I found a Dhamma Vipassana 10-day meditation/silence retreat closeby only a month after I arrive. Something I’ve been interested in since I first heard of it.
Not speaking for 10 days; a challenge for everyone I think, for me certainly. But I am very curious to what you might find out through this experience. I think I might be very enlightening.
So it would boost that spiritual vibration that I felt in the air once more, replenish my soul, mark the new era.

I am so ready to begin again!
schoolgirls

Plottwist!

“Wow, what the hell?! Aren’t you supposed to be on the other side of the world?”
Yes I am. I was…

“So. Like, what, how long are you here for?”
I have a return ticket for September.

“Oh you do have a return ticket this time? Yeah, ‘cause you also have a boyfriend back there right?”
That’s right! Or actually, a fiancé ^.^

“Wow! Congratulations! But that must be hard…”
It is! I miss him like crazy, being on different sides of the world is very frustrating.
Then again, who am I to complain? You have to live in this shithole year-round.
And there are plenty of couples who have to spend months apart like this years on end.
I’m just happy we only have to do it for these few months, am grateful for skype, and hold on to the thought of the paradise we’ll be able to build ourselves by the end of this year.

“Ah-oh, next you’re going to tell me you’re pregnant, haha.”
Not yet, but don’t be surprised if I carry one on my arms next time you see me.

“Seriously, stop it with the bombs now!”
Haha.
Okay, so I came back to earn some European bucks. We have a dream, but to make it come true we need bigger funding.
And for me to find work in Indonesia isn’t easy. They’re not keen on having bule taking their jobs. And even if I’d find something I wouldn’t make enough to save on.

“So is he coming here aswell?”
To get him visa isn’t easy either. Let alone a working permit. He’d have to be hired first; his employer needs to file for the working permit. But to get a working permit you can’t be visiting on the tourist visa.
But how are you going to find an employer if you’re not here, right? Yet another bit of stupid bureaucracy-bullshit to reassure me I really don’t want to live on this end of the planet anymore.

“Then this is the last time I’ll see you?”
I was already packing up before I left last October. But whatever I had left here is coming with me in September.
Of course I’ll be back here on holiday some day. To show my husband and kids where I grew up, introduce them to my family and friends.
But I won’t be wandering aimlessly anymore. I found my place, I found my guy, my home, we have a plan, we’ll have it all.
But hey, you should definitely come visit us some time!

“What happened to the traveling dream though?”
I found something better, something maybe I was already looking for… Plus, plans are there to be made broken, remember? Besides, we can still travel together.

“And how long have you been gone now? Not that long, right?”
No, it was only 4 months. And it feels like I was here just a week ago.
And at the same time so much has happened. I was gone twice as long as last time.
But didn’t make half the mileage, haha. I met him on my first stop, managed to pull myself away for the planned trips to Singapore and then Cambodia, but couldn’t stay away for even one month. Padangbai; can’t stay away.

“So how are you going to manage half a year?”
I have no idea. Just work, think ahead, pull through…

“Just what you tell us not to do..?”
Yeah… I know it’s conflicting, but I’ll find a way to justify that for myself ; )

“So he’s that great? Tell me more about him.”
Well… He’s super handsome, he has black hair, brown eyes…

“Haha. But what is he like, what does he do?”
He’s the sweetest, always taking care of me. And even though he’s a little younger he’s very serious about us. He makes me feel so safe and happy.
He’s also a great cook, loves to make and feed me the best of foods. And he’s really clever and funny, he always knows how to make me laugh.
He likes to surf and go fishing and making music and traveling. And he loves kids. And giving me massages… He’s my dream come true.

“That does sound great. I’m happy for you.”
“But now you’re here. So what will you do?”

Just work. I’m not picky. I need to make money so I can go back asap.
Other than that I’ve got some time to clear up those last boxes I left with my parents and say a final goodbyes.
And dream up our to-be-paradise, of course. But I’ll tell you more about that as it’s unfolding, in due time.
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Why visit Lyon?

My dear friend Mies, author of ACoupleStepsForward.com, asked me to write a guestpost about Lyon, where I lived for half a year.

Being busy publishing my Southeast Asia journals here first, I haven’t at all gotten around to editing the stuff I was writing there for myself. But writing about it again was very inspiring and reminded me what a great city it is.
I didn’t even manage to fit in all the must-see’s in this guestpost. I’ll get back on all that in a while. But for now, please go ahead and check out why I think you should visit Lyon.

South of France? Not really the first destination that comes to mind when the days start growing cold and dreary.

But there is one reason to book your flight immediately: in the weekend of December 8, Lyon will be magically lit and buzzing with travelers, crowding the streets to witness the spectacle called Fête de Lumière, which turns the entire city into an interactive stage where artists invite you to play in their show.

All you need to join in is accommodation (be quick, hotels and guesthouses tend to fill up pretty quickly, making it a difficult task to find something last-minute!) and two feet to carry you. Just walk out on the street to feast your eyes and belly on the countless stands with local specialties: sweet breads, meat pies and of course some vin chaud to keep warm.

I prefer summer though, and here’s why:

I’ve always been going on holiday to the South of France with my parents, passing Lyon on our way. From the car, the many gray banlieues that surround Lyon are pretty much all you can see, so when I first came here to work in June 2011 I was pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful ancient village, hidden away in the city center.

The public transport system in Lyon is superb. Get a TCL-card for the entirety of your stay. With this, you can log in to bus, metro, trolley and funiculaire.

Another great way to get around is by bike, another superb system. With any worldwide bankcard you can rent a bike from the Vélo’V ports you’ll find all over the city. Rent a bike for 24 hours or 3 days. You can return and take it out again anywhere during this period.

Bellecour is one of the central squares, where almost all metro lines connect.

From there it’s a small walk to the next metro station Vieux Lyon, where you can take the funiculaire up to the beautiful Cathédrale St-Just, as much worth a look inside as the view it gives you over the entire city.

Not far you’ll find the Théatres Romains, that feature some great open-air shows in summertime.

Walk back down through the park and take your time to stroll through the beautiful quarter of Vieux Lyon, go see the Musée des Miniatures et Décors de Cinéma, grab a drink at popular pub Saint James, and indulge in some ice-cream at the very best shop in town across from it that boasts over a 100 stunning flavors.

For a nice walk I have to insist: take the metro out to Gare de Vaise and spend an hour walking back to the center alongside the Saône.

Another square to visit is Place Terraux, next to the Musée des Beaux-Arts.

During summer l’Opéra features jazz concerts nearly daily, often free or otherwise easy to listen in on from the square.

From here you can walk up to Croix Rousse, another beautiful quarter with many little bars and livingroom-style hangouts.

Don’t forget to take Metro C up and spend a night roaming the artistic bars on Boulevard de la Croix Rousse.

Or go more in the direction of Cordeliers, find one of the many lovely bars in Rue Pizay or Rue du Garet. I’ve enjoyed many a night of live swinging in Le Bariton, tunes in Fée Verte and drinks around the tree on the terrace of 203.

For a late night dance out go to the quai du Rhône and get on one of the party boats. Ayers Rock is crowded any night.

 

I’m getting carried away. Back to daytime activities:

Spend at least a day in Parc de la Tête d’Or, with the jardin botanique, the palace of glass housing a bit of jungle, it’s deer camp, the zoo. Yes, it has giraffes, water buffalo’s, many monkeys and even a panther and elephants!

And don’t stop walking there, but go around the water to see if the Île du Souvenirs is open.

Don’t forget to bring a picnic basket to sit down on the field with the Lyonais, enjoying a warm summer’s day and playing frisbee.

For a cooldown, spend a day by the side of La Piscine du Rhône.

More culture is to be found in the 2ième. La Sucrière is always an important part of the Biennale de Lyon, which is usually held from September to December.

As the old industrial part of town it makes for a nice city tour.

Wine and dine with the locals in one of the many and all very delicious restaurants on Rue Mercière. Whilst sitting there on a crowded terrace sipping a nice robust côte du Rhône, the maître d’hotel is shouting something in French to one of his garçons as a busker is playing his accordion on the corner. As a little breeze plays through the small street to cool the city after another hot day, you’ll realize that this is definitely a town to come back to.

God, I miss Lyon.