Friday, 20 March 2015

A Wrap on 24

24 was a fantastic year for me. I am not one to toot my own horn, but I found direction this year, and is finally feel like I am on track with where I would like to be moving. 

I ate some really amazing food, in many amazing places with a few amazing people. 

I've finally figured out this whole eating well thing. As in not dieting, but as in eating a balanced diet, learning to understand portion sizes, and realizing it's okay to treat yourself sometimes. 

I found yoga. I'm not a yogi by any standards and I am certainly a raw beginner, but I've come to enjoy testing my strength and learning to focus only on my body. 

I have a work-out routine that I enjoy. I have learned to enjoy running. Rather than dreading every moment on the tread mill. Again, raw beginner, but I have seen real progress in my endurance and couldnt be happier. I feel strong from lifting weights. Let me tell you, strong feels good. Mentally and physically I feel strong. 

Moving to such an isolated location has really helped me focus on myself, finally give myself the time I deserved. As a result, I have created habits that I hope will, last a life-time, figured out what I want from my life and still been able to indulge in the occasional Netflix binge watching session.

I have been busy this year, but I have been busy for myself. That is a huge difference to being busy for no good reason. 

Does this mean I am happy and carefree every day? Absolutely not. But, it does mean that I have learned to accept what I cannot change, and I am learning to let things go. Overall, I am generally happier. 

I am writing this from the Baku Airport as I wait for my flight to Tbilisi, airports are a wonderful time for self reflection -as we know there isn't much else to do. Last year, I was Dubai celebrating my birthday  with an amazing group of friends, this year I will explore a new country with two close friends. Two very different experiences but both travel related. I wonder if it will be any indication for a good year. 

I can't wait to see what 25 holds for me! 

Monday, 9 March 2015

Women's Day in Kazakhstan

Source: Google Images
The Royal Treatment

International women's day is recognized world wide as a day of empowerment for women.

Never have I ever been treated like such a princess as I have on women's day in Kazakhstan. They really go out of their way to make women feel special on this day - something that is rather lacking from their society in general.

We celebrated the day in a multitude of ways, the male students prepared a performance for the female students on the Friday in the auditorium and the male teachers did the same for the female teachers on Saturday. 

The men are ready to dance!
The men created many different skits and dances to show their appreciation for the female teachers at the school. It was refreshing to see them not taking themselves too seriously and enjoying a joke or two at our expense. They put together a raffle for the female teachers as well. Note that they were raffling off household items...hmm gifts that give more work for the women to do! I won a vacuum cleaner - woohoo!

In addition to two hours of entertainment by the lovely male staff we were each treated to a long-stemmed rose; the longest roses I have ever been given.

Welcoming the Women with Roses
I appreciated that they welcomed all of the female staff, from the teachers to the teaching assistants, the chefs and the cleaning women. They do a really wonderful job of making sure each and every woman in the school feels treasured on this day.

It is amazing to see the men coming together to celebrate women. From Friday night to Sunday morning the flower shops were insanely busy, filled with men purchasing flowers for the women in their lives. They must make a killing in March!

Happy Women's Day to all my female readers!

To me women's day is about self-empowerment. So, own the day ladies, be strong, be happy and be healthy. Love yourself and your sex. United we can do amazing things. 

Source: Google Images

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Flash Back to Sri Lanka: These are a few of my favorite things

View from our room!

Location: Hikkaduwa Beach
Hotel: Citrus Hikkaduwa

The American and I did Sri Lanka on a really strict budget, but still managed to have a fantastic time. The water was beautiful, even though the waves could get quite rough, the beach seemed endless, the food was mouth watering and the people were absolutely beautiful. 
Our daily budget was about 15 dollars each, and we made that last for meals and fun! Definitely and easy budget location.

1. Turtle Hatchery

Seriously. Best time every, you get to hold little baby one-day old turtles in your hands. Have you seem anything cuter than a itsy-bitsy baby turtle? No, the correct answer is that you have not. The money that you pay to see the turtles, which is very small, goes to running the facility and keeping their rescues, turtles who have lost a fin, safe and happy. I believe that if you volunteer your time you can help them release the turtles to the ocean and watch births in the evening with them for free. You can take all the photos you like and they are happy to take them for you!

2. Galle Fort
Galle Fort

Now, Galle was beautiful, you drive down the coast from Hikkaduwa to get there, and the drive itself is absolutely beautiful, you see tons of coast, beautiful beaches and palm-trees lining the roads, stunning. We rode down in a Tuk-Tuk which was a bit like taking your life into your hands, but an experience for the books none the less. Walking along the old dutch fort is amazing, and you can go for hours, it is absolutely massive. I do wish that there had been more information about the fort, as a history buff, I love to read about the places I visit. I really didn't do enough reading before we arrived (my fault) and unfortunately there were no signs posted, so we wandered around the very cool ruins all morning without knowing a thing about them.

3. Our Tuk-Tuk Driver (and the adventures he took us on)

The American and I lucked out big time with our Tuk-Tuk man, he knew the area well, took us everywhere we wanted to go, and asked for a fair price. He also brought us to a few places that we would not have known about, they were so out of the way, there was a moon-stone mine, a lagoon, and a silk factory in addition to some beautiful monuments to honor the dead from the Tsunami a few years before our stay. The people in general in Sri Lanka are among the most welcoming I have ever met - everyone has a kind smile and a wave for you, and all are very helpful.

4. Thunderstorms.
While I know this is totally un-predictable, and based on the weather patterns, I loved watching the thunderstorms roll. We were in Sri Lanka in mid-April, and catching the tail end of the dry season and the beginning of the wet season. There is a simple beauty in listening to the thunder crack, and seeing the lighting strike. The American and I had a covered balcony with an ocean-view, so we were quite happy to sit and watch. They never lasted long, but there were one of the most memorable parts of the trip.

5. The Moon-Stone Mine
This was one of the random experiences that our Tuk-Tuk diver took us on, and I could not have been more delighted with it. While, I am sure that it was a ploy for us to buy something so he could get some commission off it, the people were not pushy about asking us to purchase anything. They took us on a tour of the property and actually encouraged me to jump in the mine-water and search for moon-stones, luckily I was wearing a bathing suit underneath my t-shirt, so I hopped right in to The American's surprise. Not sure that I found any moon-stones but it was well worth it, for now I can say I went to Sri Lanka and worked in a mine (if only for a short time).

My favorite part of the day was always the sunsets, they were absolutely stunning. It was beautiful to see people just stop what they were doing to admire it, and carry on as soon as it dipped behind the ocean. I will certainly go back and explore more of such a beautiful country.

Morning Coffee is always essential - beautiful location for breakfast!

Colourful Streets!

Fire dancers at the hotel

Our stomping ground for the week,

Galle Fort

Taking a break!
Our Tuk-Tuk Driver


Baby Turtles!

Good-Bye Sun

Simple is Beautiful

Colours, colours everywhere