AN INDIAN 50TH BIRTHDAY PARTY + SAYING YES

Design and Travel

The end of our Himalayan Trek took us to the mountain town of Rimbick, India, where we had to stop at one more passport check point so they could make sure we didn’t sneak into Nepal. Mike and Brad took care of the important passport stuff while I ran down the block to grab some tasty momo’s for the four hour share-jeep ride that would take us back to Darjeeling. When the boys arrived at the momo shop they not only had the passports but they also had the passport security worker, Sisir, by their side. He was going the same way and needed to catch the same jeep as us, so the four of us, plus our guide James, walked to where we would catch the jeep. We had only been in India a week but had already learned that anything called a share-jeep was not going to be a comfortable ride and like expected, Mike, Brad, Sisir, and I all squished into a makeshift seat that was in the trunk, while our guide James hopped on the top, THE TOP of the jeep!

Design and Travel

Design and Travel

Two hours into the ride Sisir had convinced us to abandon our Darjeeling plans and come to stay at his house with his family in Kalimpong, after all they were having a party to celebrate his Uncle’s 50th birthday.

Design and Travel

We stayed two nights at this lovely little home surrounded by lush green jungle. The running water was outside from the hose, the toilet was a squatty in the garden, the cutlery was non-existent, the food was to die for, and I think they would have let us stay forever. It was perfect. We danced the night away with this family of Christians, Hindus, Muslims and one superhero (pictured below, he never did tell me his real name the whole time, only that he was an indian superhero god.)

Design and Travel

Design and Travel

Design and Travel

Design and Travel

Design and Travel

It’s when you say yes to last-minute invitations, unplanned destinations, and unfamiliar places that the richest experiences sneak up on you. Thank you India family, we will never forget your generosity…and your food!

OUR BIG HUGE RIDICULOUSLY MIND-BLOWING YEAR

Design and Travel

by Ashley

So, it’s true, we are back in the great white north, although its 20 something degrees right now and not white at all, thank goodness!

We left New Zealand after six weeks of living in a van, had one last hoorah for a week in Bangkok, then boarded the plane with the surreal knowledge that we were finished our year of travel, and would soon be landing at the YVR airport.

There is so much to be said about being home, but for now, here are some words to sum up our year.

OUR BIG HUGE RIDICULOUSLY MIND-BLOWING YEAR

We walked, ran, climbed, hiked, trekked, drove, rode, cycled, scooted, flew and hitched our way through seven countries; swam, dove, snorkeled, paddled and surfed eight seas, endless rivers, many lakes, streams and even a fjord. We got sick, got tired, got lost, got lucky, got perspective, got inspired, got tricked, got lice, got infections, got a tan, got laughed at, and got invited for dinner while we sweat our butts off, laughed ourselves silly, puked our guts out, and collapsed from exhaustion. We breathed the thin air of the Himalayas, walked on the ocean floor in the Gulf of Thailand, swam in the crater lake of an Indonesian volcano, grieved at the killing fields in Cambodia, and touched the ancient city of Angkor Wat. We motorbiked with Sweds, dove with Germans, hiked with Israelis, fished with the Vietnamese, kayaked with Kiwis, surfed with Indonesians, drank with the English, underwater fought with a Russian, danced with Indians, rode trains with the Irish, and in-between slept on beds, floors, trains, buses, tents, food court benches and for six weeks a van. We lost clothing, sunglasses, plane tickets, a bicycle, almost lost our minds and definitely lost our cool. Oh, and one big toenail in India and the other in New Zealand. We got chased by a monkey, rode camels through the desert, got bit by a dog, spotted a wild elephant, saw molting penguins, watched a shark jump out of the water, got barked at by a sea lion, found a scorpion on our pillow, and fell asleep to cicadas and geckos. Throughout the year hearts were broken, tears were shed, wounds were healed, relationships were restored, friends were made and dreams became reality. We said goodbye to my Oma and found out we are going to be an auntie and uncle. Our marriage is stronger than ever and our vision for our lives has morphed and grown. We were shocked, amazed, in love, in awe, torn apart and put back together, thrilled to be alive and yet sometimes barely alive. On those mountain tops and in those streets we have breathed deeper than we ever have before and now there is no settling. We want to wake up every morning with the advice of the Dalai Lama in our heads and remind ourselves, “Today I am fortunate to have woken up. I am ALIVE, I have a precious human life. I am NOT going to waste it.”

A PORTRAIT OF INDIA

travel india

words by Bradley Peters | photos by Ashley Peters

Another train. My ears vibrate with the motion and the resistance of the wind. We’re blowing through India with a relentless fervour, jumping between each key locale like darts thrown at a map, shrugging our cold shoulders to the raw culture that is beating on the double pained glass of each train or taxi or air conditioned coffee shop.

I watch a dog scamper beneath the weight of a cab in the chaos of the street, rolling and clamouring and fighting to escape before being carelessly crushed and tossed in the fury. The carcass of a cow slowly decays on a city road among the piles of dung and trash, sending waves of nausea with the smell of piss in the heat. Men desperately clambering over one another to give you anything and everything for rupee, and a child holding a newborn covered in rags and soot, begging, pleading.

Two men carry a body wrapped in white cloth to burn by the river Ganges. Struggling beneath the dead weight, they toss him limp on the lighted stack and recoiled from the smoke and heat as the white linen is devoured in patches of hungry red ember, revealing the man, naked, tired, bald and burning, the flame licking and gnawing his submissive flesh like a demon.

I saw this and more in the span of an hour of a day, and I’ll see this and more on sleepless nights in the moons shadows and my rooms shallows dim and grey.

I’m painting an image of India with black ink. This image is realistic and true, but the reason it is so vibrant, so shocking, so pitch and so stark is because the canvas on which I paint is so great and so pure and so white and so raw.

travel india

travel india

travel india

travel india

travel india

travel india

travel india

travel india

travel india

travel india

travel india

Travel India

travel india

Travel India

Travel India

travel india

travel india

travel india

 

THE HERE AND NOW: UPDATE

Travel New Zealand

by Ashley

Friends, it’s been a while, and A LOT has happened (including turning 29!). But, first of all, my blogs have been on hold because, tear, my computer screen cracked on our LAST day in India. The day before it happened I was celebrating that my computer “made it through India in one piece!” Dang. But with the help of my back up system and my mom-in-law, I have just recovered my pictures onto Mike’s computer.

I have so many pictures and adventures I want to share with you from India, but first I thought I would give you an update on where we are and what we are up to right now.

We arrived in New Zealand a few days ago after a 41 hour journey from Bali that included crazy long layovers and sleeping in food courts. After a couple of days of sleep and grieving over leaving Asia, we awoke to the beauty that is Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. We are staying with some generous friends Mike met a couple of years ago in their little house perched meters from the beach.

Our plan is to work for a few months, purchase a van that we will turn into a camper, then spend one month tiki-touring (NZ for road-tripping) around New Zealand. Then back home to Canada just in time for an endless Summer.

Rough, right?

Coming into 2015, and leaving Asia, we are feeling so much gratitude for the past nine months. For the adventures we have had, the beautiful and interesting people we have met, for the stories we have to tell, and for the healing, growth, and changes that have come with taking the time and space to explore.

We also know that this past year has been different for everyone and for some it has been a difficult and challenging one. To those friends we send our love and for everyone we pray this next year will be filled with the strength and courage to follow a dream.

Travel New Zealand

New Zealand Surf

Hawke's Bay New Zealand Surf

I promise I will follow with some stories of India, Bali and whatever else I wanna throw at you guys!  xox

ON TOP OF THE WORLD IN INDIA | SINGALILA RIDGE TREK

Singalila Ridge Trek India

by Michael Peters | Photos by Ashley Peters

Three quick knocks on our lodge door wakes us out of a fitful, chilled sleep. Rolling over I look at my watch, it’s five am, and the mute grey early morning light is giving way to an eager sun, and we have a date at the top of the world.

My blonde headed, smart smiling brother Brad had met Ash and I three days earlier in Bangkok. After two planes, multiple taxis, potent smells of spices and sewage, getting lost once, the kindness of locals, some haggling bouts over rupees and a wild elephant, we began our five day Singilila Ridge Trek out of Manebhanjang in West Bengal, India.

Dressing warmly with heavy eyelids we make our way out of our first tea lodge in Tumling, which sits at 2, 895 meters on the border of Nepal and India. We shrug our shoulders to the sharp morning air and begin walking.

“This way,” our stout, warm guide James waves us through the small Napalese style village and along a rough cobblestone path leading to the view point. A couple of dogs curl up near a neat pile of hay as we pass a a small well with a hand pump, while prayer flags of white, green, blue and yellow sing wildly in the early morning wind.

Squinting we step atop the brown grassed hill and come face to face with Mt. Kanchenjunga, the world’s third largest peak at 8,508 meters. “Oh my,” Brad exhales as Ash laughs giddy from the soul. Kanchenjunga stares immutable and serene with a broad golden lit face and austere peaks. We stand staring back in mornings ethereal light, silent mouthed, hearts flapping wildly like three prayer flags blown by beauty.

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India
Namaste

Singalila RIdge Trek INdia

Singalila Ridge Trek India
Mt. Kanchenjunga | 8, 508 meters

Singalila_591

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila_69
Watching sunrise on a mountain of prayer flags

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India
My heart burst every morning as we watched the sun rise over the mountains

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India
Our guide James is the second from the left. We call him the Red Panda.

Singalila Ridge Trek India
Morning yoga

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India
Gazing out over Mt Everest

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila_9

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila_481
A village school

Singalila_461

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Singalila Ridge Trek India

Have you gazed on naked grandeur
where there’s nothing else to gaze on,
Set pieces and drop-curtain scenes galore,
Big mountains heaved to heaven, which the blinding sunsets blazon, 
Black canyons where the rapids rip and roar?
Have you swept the visioned valley
with the green stream streaking through it,
Searched the Vastness for a something you have lost?
Have you strung your soul to silence?
Then for God’s sake go and do it;
Hear the challenge, learn the lesson, pay the cost…
Have you seen God in His splendors,
heard the text that nature renders?
(You’ll never hear it in the family pew).
The simple things, the true things, the silent men who do things —
Then listen to the Wild — it’s calling you.

~ excerpt from The Call of the Wild by Robert Service

*We have been in India almost three weeks now and every bit of it has been incredible. We have rode hours and hours of trains, been to deserts, mountains and cities, been shocked, awed and exhausted, but have loved every minute of it. We are finishing our time in the north and fly south in a few days. Wi-fi is really hit or miss, but we will post some more of our India adventures soon. So much love. Ashley, Mike + Brad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MY DAY AS A VIETNAMESE SQUID FISHERMAN | HOI AN, VIETNAM

Hoi An, Vietnam

 

By Mike

I was trying not to let the pain show as I pulled hand over hand on the small green fibrous rope that was closing the net on our hopeful catch. My hands were cut, my back was sore, and my throat was dry as we pulled together on the nets. There wasn’t much conversation as the diesel motor coughed and the small boat swayed. I watched them pull in those nets for probably the millionth time, backs working rhythmically and steadily. Binh’s small frame bulged with muscle and now I understood why, squid fishing isn’t easy.

Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam

I asked Bihn if they fished every day, “Yes everyday, when no rainy we fishing.” Our catch that day was only 5kg’s.

“Binh is this a small catch?”

“Everyday different, sometime 10kg some time 30kg. It’s ok, everyday different.”

I think Dad must of seen I was getting tired as the sun beat my hatless head because they called it a day at one in the afternoon. We sat silently in the boat as it chugged us toward shore, Dad controlling the throttle with a thick string and content smile. Beads of sweat fell from our foreheads and Dad passed around some sugary cookies.

Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam

We had met Dad, Mom, their twenty eight year old son Bihn and Uncle, Dad’s brother, the day before on Hidden Beach in Hoi An. Ash was snapping pictures of the curiously small basket boats that spotted the beach of the shining South China Sea. A lady carrying two buckets on a bamboo pole invited us to take pictures of her family that was approaching in a basket boat after a day of squid fishing. Bihn called out to us as they were heading home, “Come eat rice,” so we followed the family down a sandy path to their grey squat concrete home that sat amid bent palm trees a couple hundred meters from the sea.

Hoi An, Vietnam

We sat smiling at each other as fresh squid bounced around our mouths mixed with basil and mint, all washed down with rice wine served from a juice bottle. Bihn suddenly looked at me, “You come fish?”

“What’s that Bihn?” I wasn’t sure I heard him right.

“You come fish tomorrow at sic morning?”

“Fishing?” I repeated trying to tone down my rising excitement. To make sure I heard right I made a rod casting motion and fought an invisible fish.

“Yes Fishing!”

I looked at Uncle, he sat smoking with a half smile, Dad’s wrinkles shone and Ash’s elbows dug into my ribs, “You should go babe!”

“Ok that sounds great! Where do I meet you?”

“Sic morning my home, eat breakfast and go fishing.”

Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam

The next day Ash was waiting on the beach with Mom as our fishing adventure ended and our basket boat dug into shore.

“How was it?” Ash asked squeezing my hand.

“It was great, and harder than I thought it would be,” It really was.

Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam

We walked back to the house where more people had gathered, we were the honoured guests. We feasted on fish soup, squid and rice and laughed at our black ink stained teeth. Mom gave us cookies and Bihn cut open coconuts so we could drink the water. As the rice wine was being passed around I looked at the smiling eyes that surrounded us and breathed easily.

Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam

With the sun starting to set it was time to go. We all hugged tightly as we said our goodbyes and snapped some final pictures together. We were sent on our way carrying coconuts and our full hearts. Grandma and Mom squatted beside each other on the sandy embankment waving goodbye and watching the sun go down in pinks and yellows.

Hoi An, Vietnam

My hands hurt as I gripped my bike handles and my heart was happy and humbled as I reflected on the day. The work was hard and simple and flowed with the weather. The family was together every night enjoying the fruit of their labour. I learned that they sold the squid in the market for roughly five dollars a kg. I thought about the pride in the fathers eyes as he showed me Bihn’s blurry wedding photos and the joy in Uncle’s face as I learned about his two kids. There was an uncomplicated steady joy that lingered around that squat grey home and that sat in those deep wrinkles around Dad’s eyes. The family shared everything they had with us, and when I sheepishly offered money for their generosity I was sternly refused. Those deep, simple smiles and that easy laughter were worth more than all the paper in our pockets.

Hoi An, Vietnam

 

 

SOMEWHERE IN SOUTH EAST ASIA // FACES

FACES_TITLESapa, Vietnam

Admit something:

Everyone you see, you say to them, “Love me.”

Of course you do not do this out loud, otherwise someone would call the cops.

Still, though, think about this, this great pull in us to connect.

Why not become the one who lives with a 

full moon in each eye that is always saying,

with that sweet moon language,

what every other eye in

this world is

dying to

hear?

~ Hafiz ~

 

Sapa, Vietnam
Sapa, Vietnam

Hoi An Vietnam - Faces
Hoi An, Vietnam

Bali, Indonesia
Bali, Indonesia

Sapa, Vietnam - Faces
Sapa, Vietnam

Sapa, Vietnam
Sapa, Vietnam

Sapa, Vietnam - Faces
Sapa, Vietnam

Sapa, Vietnam
Sapa, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam
Hoi An, Vietnam

Sapa, Vietnam
Sapa, Vietnam

Sapa, Vietnam
Sapa, Vietnam

Hoi An, VietnamHoi An, Vietnam

Chiang Mai, Thailand
Mon Cham, Thailand

Sapa, Vietnam

Sapa, Vietnam

Sapa, Vietnam
Sapa, Vietnam 

Sapa, Vietnam
Sapa, Vietnam 

* I left my computer in safe hands in Bangkok for a bit while we roam the north. When I get it back, we will have some Vietnam posts for you! Also, countdown, two and a half weeks till Mike’s bro Brad meets up with us!

 

 

 

 

The Temples of Angkor : Sunrise to Sunset

Angkor Wat CambodiaAngkor Wat Cambodia

Angkor Wat Cambodia

Angkor Wat Cambodia

Angkor Wat Cambodia

Angkor Wat Cambodia

Angkor Wat Cambodia

Angkor Wat Cambodia

Angkor Wat Cambodia

Angkor Wat Cambodia

Angkor Wat Cambodia

Angkor Wat Cambodia

Angkor Wat Cambodia

Angkor Wat Cambodia

Angkor Wat Cambodia

Angkor Wat Cambodia

Angkor Wat Cambodia

Angkor Wat Cambodia

Angkor Wat Cambodia

Angkor Wat Cambodia

Our Cambodia journey started out with a pretty adventurous overland trip from Thailand through the Poipet border and onto Siem Reap. We met our friends Sam and Claire, who we first met in Bali, in Siem Reap with plans to see Angkor Wat together before hopping a bus and a boat to a lush remote island.

The temples of Angkor did not disappoint. Mike and I chose to do the three day pass, which cost about $40 each. We saved the main temples, including Angkor Wat, for the third day when we met up with Sam and Claire. And if you only do one day at the temples, this is the one to do, sunrise to sunset, starting at Angkor Wat and finishing at the Kings Pool at sunset. The entire day was magical. From the moment you enter the archway on your tuk tuk you imagine yourself taken back to the 12th century when over a million people lived in these grounds during the Khmer Empire. From afar, the magnificence takes your breath away, but up close its the detail that astonishes you. Wall after wall of bas reliefs and carvings telling stories of wars and gods, of kings and lords.

We started our day with about a few hundred other people who came to see the sun rise over the grand silhouette of Angkor. Funnily, at the bridge everyone turned left, so we turned right, put our blanket down on the grass and enjoyed the view crowd-less. It was 5:30am and no less than a minute after one of us said, “all we need is a coffee”, a Cambodian man calling himself James Bond shows up with a menu, we ordered coffees and a few minutes later he returned with a tray of hot Cambodian coffee and a can of condensed milk. Only in Asia.

After sunrise we explored Angkor Wat for about three hours, only to come out to find our tuk tuk driver, Mr. Tom, had thought we had ditched him. Apparently we take our time because Mr Tom kept reminding us at every temple to hurry up, ha.

Another favourite was Bayon, a temple built by a Khmer king in the 12th century. 200 slightly smiling stone faces on 37 remaining towers look down upon you. Some accounts say this is a face of a buddha and some say it was the face of the king. No matter where you are on the temple grounds, there is a face watching you.

Mr. Tom drove us around all day, napping or chatting with all the other drivers while we explored. We saw at least five magnificent temples that day then decided to avoid the crowds again and head to The Kings Pool, a small lake, for sunset. We stopped and grabbed a beer each, spread out the blanket and finished the day like we started, chatting and marvelling at the sun.

– ashley

 

 

 

 

Five Lessons from a Month with Yogis

Yoga in Ubud Bali

“Alright yogis, take a vinyasa and we will meet in down dog”

I have probably heard this hundreds of times over the last month.

Over the last 30 days I completed my One Song Yoga 200 hr teacher training at the Yoga Barn in Ubud, Bali.

I have barely worn shoes, chanted many OM’s, sat cross legged for hours, sweated intensely, ate more raw food then ever, drank kombucha and turmeric juice, prayed through my mala beads, saluted the sun daily, balanced in warrior three, created sequences, taught classes, aligned my chakras, slacklined, and most of all learned to love and appreciate these yogis and our beautiful teachers.

Many lessons have been learned, but here are five that have stood out for me:

1. INTENTION
If you have ever been to a morning yoga session you may have been asked at the beginning of the class to take a moment to set an intention for the day. This may be as simple as “be more patient with myself today” or “take time to appreciate the people around me today”. I remember the first few times I heard a teacher suggest this and it took me a while to catch on, but last January I took part in a 40 day yoga intensive at One Yoga in Saskatoon. This meant I went to 7am yoga every morning (well, almost) for 40 days and it was so powerful to set an intention every morning, and continue to come back to that throughout the day. Be INTENTIONAL.

2. TEACHERS
There is an ancient saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear”. Mike and I were hanging out with his Aunt and her friend in Bali and some really beautiful conversations took place about Mike’s family history. The fact that history and patterns will repeat themselves unless someone decides to, “stop the shit.” This can only happen when someone meets a teacher and recognizes an opportunity in their current circumstances to learn a lesson. The teacher may be a person, it may be a book, but often the teacher IS the circumstance. If there is something to be learned right now at this very moment in your life, and you don’t recognise it, it will keep coming back until it has been absorbed. What teachers can we identify right now so that we can move forward in life more powerfully?

3. I GET TO GET UP IN THE MORNING
This was a small conversation in our training, that came from our teacher Denise, in which afterward she declared, “That was just one of my ramblings.” But this rambling was a super powerful message! Every once in a while, or maybe every day, we all just need a perspective shift. I believe that small, daily perspective changes can lead, and fast, to huge changes in our happiness. Every time we were given a project, someone in the group, wanting to summarize the homework, would begin with , “So tonight we have to…”, and Denise would instantly interrupt with the powerful perspective shifter of , “So tonight you GET to…” So good! I don’t HAVE to get up in the morning, I GET to get up in the morning.

4. OUR MANTRA FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
Denise taught us that “your mantra for the 21st century is to serve.” I have a deep belief that we can live out our passions and serve others at the same time. And that actually our passions were given to us for that very purpose. Watching my two teachers and how they are living out this mantra in their lives was inspiring and challenging at the same time. This lead me to ask myself some very important questions, questions that I have asked myself before but realize I need to be continually asking myself. “What are my passions?”, “What are my skills and strengths?”, “What do I have to give?”, “What are the fears/aversions stopping me?”, “Am I living this out daily and not always projecting it into the future?”

5. MY RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
Lastly, I feel like I have a second chance at something so sacred to me. I have always felt like I have had a connection to God, but in so many circumstances, I just didn’t feel like I fit in with what I had thought it was supposed to look like. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know I could fall into the same trap and just trade one form for another by going all yogi here, but I don’t feel like that is what happened. This last 30 days has shown me that no matter what the method, I can just BE with God.

Written by Ashley.