Back to the Beginning

Posted in Travel Blog on August 29, 2010 by Dan Jahns

For those of you who are just stumbling, digging or Googling your way to this blog for the first time, welcome.  It’s great that people are still finding their way here.  I have to admit that I also come back here from time to time to reminisce about our trip.  The honest truth?  We wish we were still traveling.  But we both found excellent jobs that we love in Los Angeles and we’re happy here…..until Round The World: Part Deux!

The purpose of this entry (6 months after we returned from our travel odyssey) is simply to lead you all back to the beginning should you care to start from the top.  So click below to re-start our journey with us….the date is September 29th, 2009…….

BACK TO THE BEGINNING

Or if you prefer to go to a specific posting from a specific city or country, click here for an index of postings by geographic location.

POSTING INDEX BY COUNTRY & CITY

If you’d like to see a “trailer” for all of the places we visited just scroll down a bit further and watch the short “welcome to” video.  Then go back to the beginning and read how it all happened.

Welcome to……

Posted in Travel Blog on February 25, 2010 by Dan Jahns

I know I said that the previous posting was the final one, but I lied. Sorry.  :) Just one last short video to post.  I had forgotten that Francesca and I had recorded me saying “Welcome to [insert country name here]” in each of the countries we visited.

As many of you know I enjoy doing accents and so the game was to attempt (the operative word here) to imitate the accent of whichever country we were in at the time.  I think we got all but five countries. It appears we did not do one for Malaysia, Thailand or Australia and for the life of me I cannot find the ones I know we recorded in Turkey and the UAE.  Oh well.  I hope you enjoy the rest of them at least as much as I enjoyed making it.  Okay, probably not that much….

Disclaimer: I apologize in advance if any of my attempted accents offend anyone….I tried my best.

Planes, Trains & Automobiles: The Final Eat, Play, Love Posting

Posted in Travel Blog on February 22, 2010 by Dan Jahns

This is the final posting from our Eat, Play, Love round the world journey.  It is one of reflection and also a listing of places we’ve been and other fun stats.

Hohenshwangau Castle, Fussen, Germany.

Since we’ve been back in New York we have been asked similar questions by friends and family alike so I thought I would use these questions as a jumping off point for my reflections of our trip.

1. What was it like to travel for so long?

I actually thought traveling for four months would wear on us more and that we would grow tired of living out of a suitcase and rushing through airports. But surprisingly we didn’t and both Francesca and I wished we could have continued to travel. In fact, we did brainstorm several ways to extend our trip to South America, one of two continents (along with Antarctica) that we did not reach on our journey.

It is interesting to note that four months is considered a long time to travel only by Americans. In Europe and Australia/New Zealand it is not uncommon to travel for 5 or 6 weeks for a normal vacation from your job and an RTW trip of eight to eighteen months is the norm.  On our trip we met many travelers who were on quit-your-job-and-travel journeys of six months or more, but none that were on journeys of four months or less. They all looked on us with sympathy, shook their heads sadly and said “Only four months?  Awww….you poor Americans.”  Of course, in our case it was a lack of money and not a burning desire to get back to work that limited our travel time.

Sultan Cafe, Istanbul, Turkey.

2. How did traveling together for so long affect your relationship?

Francesca and I are getting divorced.   JUST KIDDING!  Our relationship and marriage is very much in tact and in fact we are now worried about what we’ll do when we get jobs and don’t get to see each other 24×7.  Can you say codependent?!

In truth, it wasn’t all champagne and roses and we definitely found ourselves with shorter fuses, bickering over little things more than we had previously. But we tried to remain conscious of the fact that it was the stress of travel and the constantly being together with very little “me time” that was the cause and that would often diffuse any tension.

Many people asked us if we ever got to a city and went our separate ways for the day, but other than a solo jog here and there and a shopping trip in Ubud for Francesca while I visited the Monkey Forest, we really went everywhere together.

I think it may have been healthy to split up every now and then, but we are generally on the same page as far as things we like to do and see and are very flexible with what we want to eat, etc. so it was never really a problem to stick together.  Plus, Francesca is my best friend and I wanted to share every amazing moment of this trip with her.

Villa Cipressi, Lake Como, Italy.

3. What was your favorite place you visited?

This is a difficult question to answer, but we knew we would get it so we thought about it in advance.  Of course there is no one answer to this question because there were numerous places that were favorites for different reasons.  For example, the Amalfi Coast in Italy was a favorite for the landscape, while Luang Prabang, Laos was a favorite for the fellow backpackers we met and still, Queenstown, New Zealand was a favorite in terms of adventure sports and livability (yes, we considered staying there!).

We also found an inverse relationship between our expectations for a certain city and our enjoyment of that city.  For example, we had very low expectations for Budapest, Hungary – bleak, former Iron Curtain country, what could it possibly have to offer? – but we had one of the best single days of our entire trip.  We’re thankful we didn’t let our expectations dictate our itinerary or we would have missed this gem of a city.

City Park, Budapest, Hungary.

Here is a list of countries and cities we visited as well as some other interesting stats we kept a record of during our four month sojourn. [Apologies if this comes off as boastful, but I wanted to have this recorded for posterity and it was fun tracking the numbers as we went along].

For those of you interested you can see a complete listing of countries and cities by visiting our “Countries & Cities & More” link from our home page or by clicking here.

Countries: 22*

Cities: 76*

Languages Encountered: 25

Currencies Used: 18

Plane Flights: 31

Airlines: 19

Buses/Mini Buses: 15

Trains: 12

Boat/Ferry: 12

Taxis: 8

Rental Cars: 7

Subways: 5

Trams: 4

Cable Car/Funicular: 3

Bicycles: 3

Scooters: 3

Tuk Tuks: 3

Chair Lift: 1

Horse: 1

* We included a city as long as we left the airport and went into the town to do or see something (even if we didn’t stay overnight).  So Dublin is included, but Doha is not (since we just had a several hour layover in the airport).

Adventure activities engaged in on our Eat, Play, Love RTW Trip:

- Dune Bashing in Dubai

- Great White Shark Dive in Kleinsbaai, South Africa

- Horse Trekking in Sossusvlei, Namibia

- Sand Boarding in Swakopmond, Namibia

- Safari in Mkuze Falls, South Africa

- Sea Kayaking in Halong Bay, Vietnam

- Zipline in Queenstown, New Zealand

- Jet Boating in Queenstown, New Zealand

- The Lost World, Abseiling & Caving in Waitomo, New Zealand

- Harbor Bridge Climb in Sydney, Australia

- Surfing in Lombok, Indonesia

- Mountain Biking in Bali, Indonesia


International Friends** made on the trip:

** As defined, of course, by whether or not they are now our Facebook friends.

- Andrea, Elenor & Nika, from Croatia (owners of Villa Elly in Dubrovnik)

- Martina, from San Francisco (met at La Perla Hotel in Praiano, Italy)

- Sharon and Norm from Michigan (met on boat to Capri)

- Allison Bryan from Oregon (we met Allison and her sister-in-law Gina in Tuscany and latter met up with her in Prague where she is living as a teacher).

- Guiseppi from southern Italy (met at B&B in Florence.  Studying to be a doctor).

- James Abraham and his wife from the United Kingdom (met in Plazza del Michaelangelo, Florence).

- Massimo Bernadini from Italy (owner of Cantine Bernadini in Lucca, Italy)

- Bea Juvancz from Hungary (Wharton/Lauder ’98 & friend of JL we met in Budapest)

- Michaela Ponweiser from Austria (JL’s friend in Vienna)

- Ruthanne & Nate Heyward from Wisconsin (met in Vienna and Prague)

- Micheal Kavan from Pittsburgh (met in Prague)

- Eva Leitner & Schnaps Ziggy from Austria (met in Prague on Halloween night)

- Sabine Berthele from Germany (met on the train from Munich to Fussen)

- Seda & Nisa Kilic from Turkey (met in Istanbul. Friends of John Lusk)

- Rona Shedid from Egypt (met in Dubai, fellow Wharton grad a few years behind me)

- Aparna Verma from India (met in Dubai, brother of my friend Ashwin)

- Nadine Orossa from the United States (met in Dubai, friends of JL)

- James & Emma from the United Kingdom (met in Kleinsbaai, South Africa on our Great White Shark dive)

- Anja Becker from Namibia (she was the guide on our overnight horse trek)

- Emmy Andersson & Julia Lindesson from Sweden (met sandboarding in Swakopmund, Namibia)

- Ron & Cora from Holland (met at the Mukuze Falls Private Game Reserve)

- George Marchetti from North Carolina (met in Morandava, Madagascar)

- Mike Fitton and Sarah Laundy from Canada (met at a Luang Prabang, Laos cooking class)

- Duncan Murray & Alysan Higgins from the United Kingdom (met in Luang Prabang, Laos and met up with in several other cities)

- Elisabeth Gager & Andi Mertl from Austria (met on our Halong Bay tour in Vietnam)

- Eugene Arutyunyan & his wife from Russia (met in Kuala Lumpur)

- David  & Charlie Smith from the Channel Islands (met on our Waitomo Caves adventure)

Jan Russell & Avi Hazuria from Ireland and India (met in Bali, Indonesia where they founded a magazine called Kabar for expats and run a publishing business in Ubud)

- Brian Aldinger from Queens (the owner of Naughy Nuri’s restaurant in Ubud, Bali)

- Mike & Kim Krupnick from New Mexico (met in a yoga class in Ubud, Indonesia)

Bayon Temple, Siem Reap, Cambodia.

We hope you all enjoyed following along with our journey.  It was great to keep in touch with so many friends and family while we were away and to share with you all the stories and images of this amazing voyage.

Our round the world trip is over for now…..but keep an eye out for RTW Redux some time in the future……

Hong Kong & The Last Sunset

Posted in Travel Blog on February 21, 2010 by Dan Jahns

Even though we only spent about ten hours here we get to include Hong Kong on our list of cities visited on our RTW trip since we did stay over night. We arrived around 10pm, checked into the Bishop Lei Hotel on Robinson Road in the mid-levels and immediately went back out to meet my good friend Dominick Falco, my former boss at Morgan Stanley when I used to live and work in Hong Kong.

Dom, Me & Francesca at one of the trendy Italian restaurant in the mid-levels.

I have known Dominick since I was 22 years old working for Morgan in Tokyo and spent 2 1/2 years working for him in Hong Kong before Britain handed it back to China.  Dominick, a New York native, has been jumping back and forth between Japan and Hong Kong ever since.  It was great to catch up with him, albeit briefly.

The morning came too soon and Francesca and I lugged our bags into a taxi for the last time before we hit US soil four months after leaving it in October. Hong Kong runs as efficiently as ever and as the taxi door opened automatically to let us out at the train station and the Airport Expresses whisked us quietly away towards Check Lap Kok Francesca and I squeezed each other’s hand in acknowledgement that our longtime dream of traveling around the world was coming to an end.

In the airport I got one last thrill ride – we had our bag shrink-wrapped at one of those machines.  I have often laughed (to myself) at travelers who get their suitcases wrapped in this fashion as I see it as largely unnecessary, however, we had a large, cheaply made duffel bag that we bought in Bali filled with breakables so we figured this would be the perfect opportunity to use the shrink-wrap machine!  And we had just the exact amount of Hong Kong dollars to pay for it.   Boy what fun!!

I even took a video of it.

Somewhere over the Pacific Ocean Francesca and I fell asleep and woke up to the Captain’s announcement that we were approaching John F. Kennedy airport.  Home again….


Sunset from our Cathay Pacific 747 somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.

Teva, We Salute You!

Posted in Travel Blog on February 21, 2010 by Dan Jahns

Me and my Teva Rivas in Tuscany, Italy

Those of you who read our first posting know how excited we were to get sponsored by Teva with a “pro deal” for our around the world trip. A pair of Tevas were the only shoe that Francesca and I brought with us and boy did they go through a lot.  I kept trying to find a suitable place in the blog to give a formal shout out to my Tevas, but each time I thought it would not be doing them justice to tuck mention of them in another posting that might steal their well deserved limelight.  So this posting is my homage to Teva.

Teva Riva

My Teva Rivas are THE MOST comfortable shoe that I’ve ever owned. And they are versatile as heck. My Tevas have been around the world and back, protecting my feet from the cold cobblestones of Europe, the hot desert sands of Namibia and the wet jungles of Southeast Asia. They have stood on volcanic rock in Cappadocia, Turkey and in underground river systems in Waitomo, New Zealand. They kept my feet warm and safe and dry.


The Teva logo (right) looks very similar to the hand of this Buddha wood carving in Laos.

They are an amazingly comfortable walking shoe AND surprisingly supportive running shoe. These babies were on my feet during several runs including ones through the canals of Venice, the sandy streets of Madagascar, the mountains of New Zealand and the beaches of Australia.

Teva Sunkosi

Francesca wore the Teva Sunkosi amphibious shoe and was equally pleased with her choice.

Francesca and her Teva Sunkosis taking a rest in Sossusvlei, Namibia.

Now what?  Our original idea in taking one pair of shoes on our trip was to abuse them for four months of daily wear and then chuck them figuring they would be completely dead by then. However, we are definitely both keeping our Tevas because (1) they are still in excellent condition and (2) they are the most comfortable shoes we own. Actually, I may end up cheating on my Rivas because I also got a pair of Sunkosis which have been waiting patiently for my return.

Our Tevas at Hohenschwangau Castle in Fussen, Germany.

I want to give our friends at Teva, Jaime Eschette and Peter Warren, a big shout out for helping us fulfill PART our round the world travel dream.  Our Tevas have been to FIVE of the SEVEN continents.  Guys, we’ll be contacting you for our RTW Trip #2!  :)

My Teva Rivas overlooking Lake Como in Italy.

Become a fan of Teva on Facebook by clicking here!

Civet Cat Coffee and the Dreaded Durian Fruit

Posted in Travel Blog on February 18, 2010 by Dan Jahns

Apologies for not having posted in a while and for leaving all of you stranded with us in Bali (although it’s not a bad place to be stranded).  Truth be told we were not stranded in Bali and as some of you know we have already returned to the United States from our round the world tour.  But we had an opportunity to go on a medical mission to help the victims of the earthquake in Haiti and we jumped on it.  My job (in case you were wondering where I suddenly came up with a medical degree) was to record the mission in still photographs and video to help create awareness for the charity organization “Unity for Haiti” while Francesca utilized her Physician Assistant skills.

As part of my responsibility I kept a blog (yes, another one!) during the five days we were down there which pre-empted my final Eat, Play, Love postings (click here if you would like to view the ‘Operation Hope For Haiti’ blog).  But now I’m back to get us all home from Bali.

On one of our last days in paradise Francesca and I signed up for a mountain biking tour from the top of Mount Batur – one of many volcanoes in Bali – back down to the town of Ubud.  The route was mostly downhill on pavement – so not your hardcore, single track mountain biking – but it was a pleasant ride filled with many cultural side trips like visiting a traditional village and a rice field trek.  Francesca and I had seen so many beautiful rice fields in Bali that we were curious as to how the cultivation and harvest process worked and this tour promised to educate us in all matters rice.

Tasting different Balinese coffee varieties.

But first we had to wade through a tourist trap in the form of a coffee plantation.  It was actually quite interesting and even though I don’t drink coffee it was fun tasting the different varieties, except for the dreaded Kopi Luwak variety otherwise known as the Civet Cat Poo Poo Coffee.

This variety of Joe is made from cherry coffee beans that have been eaten by these little muskrat looking creatures high up in the trees where they live, then fermented in their stomachs and finally passed out through their….uh… digestive system in tact (and then some!).

Here is a poor Civet Cat in a cage at the coffee plantation.  Their scientific name is Paradoxurus, but they are known as Luwaks in Indonesia (hence Kopi Luwak coffee).  The peanut looking things next to him are his excreted cherry coffee beans.

The Civet Cat is adorable, but his coffee tastes….well, like crap (no pun intended there), although it is expensive and generally liked by the locals.  However, some of our expat friends told us that there is a real problem with fake Kopi Luwak coffee whereby some coffee growers charge Kopi Luwak prices when the beans haven’t been fermented by the civet cat.  Shame on you!

Francesca enjoying the downhill ride through a bamboo forest.

Good thing I had my dry wick shirt on.

We rode past rice fields…..

….and temples…..

We stopped by a traditional Balinese village.

Our guide Ketut walked us through the layout of a traditional Balinese house compound.

Ketut shows us the kitchen……

….and the pig pen.   Apparently the pig is the prize possession of the Balinese family.  Some have more than one (which is good – more is better as far as pigs are concerned).

But no family has both a male and female pig. They only have the female and then when they want to have little piglets they call the one guy in the village with a male pig and he either makes a house call with his pig or they bring their lady pig to his place so they can get piggy with it.

All Balinese houses have a temple or altar type structure in them.

Franny bids adieu to the youngest member of the family.

This little girl spent the entire time in her room combing her hair.  We could see her through the open doorway, but she did not come out until just as we were leaving to wave goodbye to us.

Ketut stopped the group to point out these massive spider webs with dozens of huge spiders living there……

We stopped to watch some local villagers make wood carvings.  These wood carvers get commissioned by companies to make carvings to spec (some days its horses, other days its tigers, etc.).  They do the initial rough carving and then they are picked up and the company finishes them off with a thorough sanding and staining or paint.

It was interesting for me to see these things being carved by an individual because I had assumed that all the vendors in town got the exact same wood carvings to sell from some big company that mass produced them by machine.  It’s nice to know that my wood carving purchase (had I made one) would go to help the lives of one of these local craftsmen.

We also stopped at a street side fruit vendor to taste the infamous durian fruit with its hard, thorn covered husk and pungent order.  While these fruits are illegal to bring into certain countries and onto airplanes due to their malodorous nature, they are revered in Southeast Asia as the “King of Fruits”.  Francesca had wanted to try one since our days in Vietnam and Cambodia, but didn’t have the courage before.

Durian fruit, it’s finger lickin’ bad!

After Ketut helped us bargain her down to an acceptable price – these things are expensive and even more so for tourists! – we dug in.   It was probably the most disgusting thing I have ever eaten.  Surprisingly I didn’t think it smelled badly, but the taste was uncommonly horrendous.  It was somewhat sweet, but had the consistency of a block of sweaty brie cheese.  I couldn’t even finish my one piece.  Francesca had a similar experience and it took us hours to get the durian taste out of our mouths.

We shared the road with other two wheeled vehicles.

After another nice, long downhill stretch we dismounted and started our trek through several rice fields and a jungle to reach the restaurant where we would have lunch.

As we walked through the rice paddies we met some adorable children who were definitely not camera shy…

….and a cast of other colorful characters.

He needs a tooth

She needs a bra!  At least she’s keeping the sun off ‘em.

Along the way ketut talked us through the fascinating rice planting and harvesting process.  Many of the rice producing areas, like the one we were trekking through, are made up of land owned by several different rice farmers and they all cooperate to utilize a common water source for irrigation.  This method of common irrigation of rice fields is called the Subak System.

The water source typically comes from a mountain lake and miles of aqueducts are built to get the water to the rice fields.  The flow of water is controlled by weirs or sluices which sends the water to one side of the aqueduct or the other.  In this way the rice farmers stagger their harvesting with one side lush and green…

…while the other is dry and brown from post-harvest.

As you can see in the previous lush photo above, the rice fields are dotted with personal shrines erected by individual farmers (you can’t pray hard enough for a good rice harvest!).  There are also larger temples or shrines erected by the collective group of farmers.

It’s amazing how these farmers make rice fields using every possible scrap of land.  It’s the staple of their diet and while I assumed they would harvest most of it to sell, Ketut told us that most goes to feeding the farmer’s (sometimes extended) family, although whatever is left over is certainly sold at the local market.

Most of the time you see the farmers plowing the field with a water buffalo drawn tiller, but some now are fortunate enough to have a motorized one (above).

After about an hour trekking through rice fields and jungles we finally arrived at the restaurant and enjoyed a bounty of delicious Indonesian dishes.  Then it was off to get one last massage before we left Bali to return to the US.

Country Stats:

Official Name: Republic of Indonesia

Official Language: Indonesian (although several different dialects are spoken)

Population: 240,271,000

Capital City: Jakarta (also the largest city)

Government: Presidential Republic

Current Leader(s): Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (President)

For more information about Indonesia click here.

Pretty Girls Do Yoga

Posted in Travel Blog on February 3, 2010 by Dan Jahns

In truth, attractively challenged girls do yoga too it just didn’t make for as catchy a blog title.  Plus that’s what I noticed as I was looking around my Forrest Yoga class when I was supposed to have my eyes closed, “looking into myself”, or something equally esoteric, as our teacher Kat had instructed.  I scanned the room.  “Hmmm…there are quite a few pretty girls in this class” I thought to myself.  None as pretty as my darling wife of course.  That said she was often still comatose in our bed as I slipped out of the wooden double doors of our villa into the early morning sunshine to head to The Yoga Barn, one of several places of yogic worship in Ubud.

Ubud, located in the mountains to the north on the island of Bali, is about as diametrically opposed to New York City as you can get.   The pace is slow, the local people are outwardly friendly and all the Westerners (expats and tourists alike) seem to be on a quest for healthy living; eating vegetarian, drinking daily wheatgrass shots (only slightly less disgusting than a shot of Jaeger), getting massages, and, of course, practicing yoga.

Francesca and some of the “tight white guys”.

The first class I took was called “Tight White Guy” and the tag line was “You don’t have to be white, you just have to be tight.”  Since my hamstrings are about as tight as a tube top on an opera singer I figure I qualified on all three requisites.  Francesca joined me while Brett, our American yoga teacher, took us through a series of poses that stretched out our entire bodies and got us into a relaxed state of near meditation.

One of the main goals of yoga seems to be to correct poor posture and Brett was constantly reminding us to lengthen our spine saying things like “pretend someone has a string attached to the top of your head and is pulling you up by it.”  He would also have us stretch out our feet and legs long and our arms over our heads calling it “the yogic rack.”  He was continually telling us to breathe into a stretch until it “felt juicy”.  I had no idea what a juicy stretch should feel like, but I got a kick out of him saying that.

The Yoga Barn

I definitely enjoyed my first class, but it didn’t seem like hard core yoga and I needed more to be convinced if it was really for me.  Francesca and I met a girl named Sharon at Jan and Avi’s party the night before who encouraged us to take the 7am Pranayama yoga class taught by “Skye” as it was a great way to get your day started.   We winced as she mentioned the start time and she laughed and said “people in Ubud get up around 6am.”  The next morning I dragged myself out of bed at 6:30am and donned the only wardrobe I thought would be yoga-acceptable – a pair of loose, brown drawstring pants purchased in the Night Market in Laos and my favorite yellow t-shirt from Bangkok that read “Free The Weed” on it.  Francesca respectfully declined so I set out on our scooter by myself to cover the short distance to “The Barn” (as the cool kids call it).

Sharon – who did not show up that morning – was right.  It was an excellent way to start the day and I felt invigorated and alive.  I was glad that I took the Tight White Guy class the day before as I felt more confident in knowing some of the basic poses.  During Skye’s class I also improved my siddhasana pose, essentially sitting “Indian style” (although that’s probably not p.c. anymore).  As you can see from the photo below I was still not very flexible (ideally my knees would be touching the floor), but I was now able to sit up tall and straight on my Ischial Tuberosity (aka “sits bones”) for a longer period of time.

Tight White Guy

What made the class seem more authentic than Brett’s TWG class was that for one, Skye was Indonesian and two, she would use the Hindu terms for all of the postures and chant mantras during certain poses encouraging us to chant along with her.  That said, it was mostly a stretching and breathing class and we only got into a few of the basic yoga poses, but I was hooked nonetheless.  I couldn’t wait to return the next day for the 8:30am Hatha Yoga class which was a hugely popular (and apparently more difficult class).

The entrance to The Yoga Barn from the inside looking out.

That night we went out hard with our local friends Jan and Avi and didn’t get home until about 4am so needless to say neither Francesca nor I made it to the 8:30am class, but I managed to drag my alcohol reeking body to the 10:30am Forrest Yoga class.  This class was taught by an American girl from Boston named Kat.  (That sounds like a very yoga teacher name doesn’t it?).  Forrest Yoga is, according to the blurb in the brochure, “about breath, strength, integrity and spirit” and is essentially a core workout.

I was curious to know more so I googled “forrest yoga” and found the following entry. It seems to have been invented by a former bulimic, alcoholic, epileptic.  Wow, now I get it.

Forrest Yoga is the invention of west-coast yoga teacher Ana Forrest. Known for her acrobatic, dance-like yoga demonstrations, Forrest drew upon her personal history of abuse, epilepsy, alcoholism, and bulimia to create an intensely physical vinyasa-style practice that aims to heal psychic wounds. Forrest incorporates elements of Native American healing, encouraging students to go deep within and to use their yoga practice as therapy. Forrest Yoga pays special attention to abdominal work and breathing. Vigorous sequences of poses are intended to build heat in order to sweat out toxins and release emotions stored in the body.

Looking up at the ceiling of The Yoga Barn from savasana or “corpse pose”.  I like this pose.  It’s just resting.

While I found myself getting into yoga I still didn’t feel completely at ease with the jargon.  Kat would say things that I just didn’t know what to do with.  For example, she would say “breath into your pelvis” or “find your truth” and I’d look around the room like “WTF, does anybody know what the heck she is talking about?”  Of course I’m sure the majority didn’t, but much like surfing, looking cool in a yoga class is the primary goal of many practitioners it seemed.

Zen fountain in The Yoga Barn courtyard.

Francesca and I did make it to the 8:30am Hatha Yoga class on our last day in Ubud and it was definitely the most challenging session yet.  This class is taught by a British woman (who’s name I did not catch) and it is a very popular class, always a packed house.

Hatha Yoga class.

This class was definitely more hard core as the teacher took us quickly through the basics (child’s pose, cobra pose, upward facing and downward facing dog and camel pose) and then into some more challenging poses (like warrior poses I & II, tree pose and eagle pose) and finally to ones that my body had no business attempting (like cow-face pose, shooting bow pose and lotus pose).  I definitely felt like a tight white guy during that class.  To make matters worse the teacher would come around and force my body into positions and hold it there. Isn’t that illegal?  In a soothing, mellow voice she would say “let me know if this is too much”, but of course she had bent my body into a pose that cut off my windpipe so I was unable to inform her.

Francesca not happy about having to wake up early for a yoga class.

But we lasted the entire class and I felt great; stronger, more flexible, more empowered.  I found by the end of the week that I was walking straighter and taller and with more confidence.  There may actually be something to this yoga thing after all.  Both Francesca and I think we’ll continue with yoga once we get to Los Angeles.  Then again, maybe we liked it so much because of the zen-like environment we were in.  Doing yoga in a thatched roof hut looking out over rice fields definitely adds to the experience.

View from The Yoga Barn studio.

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