Last Day at New Life Foundation, Thailand. Sunday 26th October 2014 (17.12 pm)

Today marks a big change on my adventure and journey.

Today, after 2 and a half months I have left New Life Foundation and currently sit aboard a bus bound for Bangkok. From there, i will fly to Nepal & the return to the crazy Kathmandu! In many ways, today is a sad day leaving New Life & all the friends that i have made there. So many good learning experiences and friendships formed. Leaving behind those people I’ve built such strong friendships with is hard. They have been my temporary family and home away from home. Having said that, my main feeling is one of great positivity and appreciation. I believe and feel that this is exactly the right time for me to go. Any sooner would have been too soon, and any longer I may be overstaying my welcome. I feel that I’ve learned so much & that i really applied myself to get the best out of my time at New Life. Now is the time to get back out on the road & see if I can put what I have learned to use. Check how my attitude & view of myself and the world around me has changed.

me brian nat me and nat smile me and keithRight now, I feel very content, at peace, relaxed, tired, excited, bit nervous about making my flight on time, very fortunate & grateful to have found New Life. It has helped me to develop into a much more grounded, confident & comfortable individual. The time has now come for a new adventure & I’m very excited about going back to Nepal once again. I feel that the last two weeks were very mentally & emotionally challenging, with the wrapping up of my New Life life coaching sessions, the 2 Shavasti weekends back to back and the 5 day Vipassanna sandwiched into all that. But i feel that I’ve learned so much and the Shavasti weekends have really changed something in me and opened things up. Very interesting. It has freed me in so many ways. Hopefully that will continue. Now, it has gotten very bumpy on this bus so i’m going to write some one word phrases to describe my experience at New Life. Struggling to much to keep my hand steady to write sentences here!!! So here are few words/phrases to describe my experience, what i have learned/gained & maybe some key points and people that have been part of my journey here ( in no particular order!!!)………………

Communication. Openess. Honesty. Truth. Comfort zone. compassion for myself and others. Meditation. Yoga. Boxing. Mindfulness. Cow Team. Bananas. Lake. Room 47. Community. Volunteer/Resident. Group Process. 4.30am rise. Dream Journal. Journal. Sunset. Sunrise. Problems. Fears. Social anxiety. Impermanence. Addiction. Relapse. Tamkrabok. Julien. Scott. Tom. Life Coaching. Enneagram. Mama’s. Vlad/Smoothies. Vipassanna. Swimming Pool. Awakening Hall. Forest Hall. Dance. Singing Meditation. Creative workshops. Community workshops. Round House. Shavasti. Dining Hall. Yellow wellies. Type “9”. Anger/Frustration. Songthaew. Town. Chiang Rai. Elephant Mountain. Keith Hodges. Brian. Nathalie. Ari. Michael. Samuel. Raj. Laura. Danko. Katie. Per. Mayumi. Mathias. Scott. Guitar. Lung Noy. P seng. Janine. Amber. Cows-Blossom, Pepper, Rose & Bella. Goals/evaluations. Noble silence. Working meditation. Saying No. Challenge set beliefs. Love. Annubee. Chester. Sam. Ducks. Excercise Area. Lisa. Fan. Pay it forward. Quotes. Poems. Awareness. Self confidence. Grounded. Open. Honest. Conquered fear. Peace. Calm. Comfortable. Presence. Inner voice. Respect. Awake. Acceptance. Less judgemental. Sober/using. Saving lives. Night market. Cheese making. Goodbye speech. Mental noting/labelling. Body scan./Total Relaxation. Morning meeting. Visa extension. Visa run. Keith/brians person centred planning. Yan. Jan. Valerie. Kohei. Roberta. Samina. Ciara.  Sonja. Tiia. Uli.  Planning. My plant. Laundry. Control. Will power. Conflict. Courage & awareness. Routine. Gift. Growth. Life stories. Men’s group. Inner dance. Dance mandala. Headlight. Mosquitos. Snakes. Frogs. Understanding. Kindness. Struggles. Hope. Recovery. Inspired. Connection. Bradleigh the DJ. Matthew. Tara. Phillippe. Cassandra. Cycle. Ping pong. Wifi. Stability. Freedom. 6am & 5pm milking. Going to the compost. Happiness. Clarity. Present moment. Helping others. Sam’s wise words. Self discovery. Challenging. Interesting. Thich Nhat Hanh. Smile Breathe and go slowly!! Peace

Day one Kathmandu, Nepal Wed 9th April 2014

Day one of this round of the travels draws to a close. Considering that I didn’t get out of bed till 12 today, I got a lot done.

Breakfast at 12.30. Late start is due to mixture of effects from the flight and the beer last night!! Ended up going out with a few that I met in hostel. 2 Americans, 2 German girls, a Swiss, a Belgian and a girl from Naas!! Good enough night but strange vibe at times!

Had some dinner & then to bar. Then another bar, which was fairly weird. Feeling of tension in the air. Unnecessary tension. A lot of indecision, impatience and narkyness. Exactly why I don’t really travel in groups. People wanting to do different things. Some wanting to do their thing and being bossy. Others wanting to do their own thing but ending up feeling awkward. Ensuring to avoid confrontation at all costs and ending up being too overly accommodating. Nobody satisfied, only frustrated. Great freedom comes while travelling alone. And yet we must learn to handle these group scenarios, or we will end up hermits on the road. Travelling alone is great, yet meeting the people remains the best part of travelling. It’s funny. I value very much spending time alone, and still I regard meeting others as the most important part of the adventure. As I was to learn and be reminded of continuously this year, the key word is BALANCE. A crucial part of life is to have balance in what you do. Crucial.

While out last night, we got onto the subject of age. I felt a bit awkward when I was one of the oldest there, at 29.  29? How the hell am I 29? What the hell am I doing here? Am I too old to be at this craic? Was I nuts to leave home and all that I left behind to go doing this? The negative thoughts creep in and once again, I deeply question my decision which has taken me here. 30 soon………No house, no job, not married, a car fit for the scrapyard!!!! Hard to believe I will be 30 soon. My new temporary friends were shocked at how old I was and how young I looked!!! Made me feel old hanging with them, who were from 19-23 and one was older than me. Looking at it honestly, I have to admit that I envy their youth. But I realise this is an unhealthy state of mind, to envy others youth. This mindset will only get worse as I get older. An attitude like this will only ensure resentment and discontent.

I must learn from this. Learn the lesson that time is precious and we must ensure to make the most of our time. Time passes for everyone and cannot be bought. Money can buy your house, your nice clothes, your car but no amount of cash will buy you time. Someday, our time will be coming to an end on this planet and I wonder how will each of us look back on how we spent our time here.

Will we be satisfied with how we utilised our precious time???

Will we be happy with what we have experienced and content that we have lived our life to the full?? Or will we look back with sorrow and regret that we carelessly wasted our time, living most of our lives blindly on autopilot????

I know I will probably look back at 39 and laugh that I thought 29 was getting on!! I will think of all time I had ahead of me. I am vowing now to enjoy things more  because someday I will look back and envy all the time I had ahead of me………….

So much living to do.

So many places to visit, foods to taste, people to meet and moments to enjoy!!!

I can sometimes be a worrier & can let the small things stress me out. But I can also be brave and am motivated to put myself out there. I must stop worrying about the future and what I will do when I return. I’ve just left and thoughts of what I will do on my return have already entered my mind. Pointless, yet I can’t help it. Must enjoy the experience I’m having now and worry about the future when I get there!!! I reflect back on my time in France when I had back trouble and it makes me feel very grateful to be here in Kathmandu at all. About to embark on a journey and a dream that I’ve had for a very long time. Not even about to embark on, but actually already on!! The wheels are in motion !!

Who knows what lies ahead.

Who knows where it will take me.

Who knows what doors will be opened for me, that I never even knew existed!!

Exciting times ahead.

6th April 2014………..beginning of new adventure

Istanbul Airport, Sunday 6th April 2014 18.45pm

So, here I am in Istanbul. Stopping off on route to Kathmandu. Jesus, it’s all happening so fast after all the waiting! This morning was very surreal. The whole thing is still very surreal. Never really got too excited about this. Only booked this flight on Thursday I suppose but haven’t really thought about or planned it much. Mammy & Eva brought me to airport. Kept the going away thing very low key this time. Much prefer that after my failure the last time!! Felt very weird this morning. Like it wasn’t really registering with me that I was actually going. Strange. Not sure what to expect and don’t expect a lot after the last time (had to return home after 4 weeks due to back trouble!!).


Flight from Dublin to Istanbul flew by. Thoughts going through my head on flight and in the last few days ……………. Am I crazy to be doing this?? Should I not just settle down at home and put my savings towards a house? Settle into a job and do what everyone else my age is doing…….getting engaged/married, buying houses, having kids, saving money. Sometimes I think I would be better off doing that. The more time I spend at home, the more I feel it. Getting sucked in! Then I tell myself that can wait. Go travel. Spend the money! Don’t be wasteful, yet don’t become stingy either! You need a balance, otherwise the fun goes out of it. I want to do this while I can & not look back wishing I’d gone sooner. I realise I’m going against the grain but I feel it is a chance worth taking.

In the airport in Istanbul and suddenly I feel very alone. All on my own. It is a scary feeling and makes me feel like a very small fish in a very big pond! Away from the comfort zone of home. Fending for myself and I have to admit I do feel a bit afraid right now. Big change going from comforts of home & that safe environment to being out in the wild!! No routine & flying solo. Amazing how your daily life and routine can change just like that. Stepping outside the comfort zone. Well out of it!! Some people never leave the comfort zone, through fear. And others are very happy & satisfied in their lives and that is great for them. For me, I need more right now. I want to challenge myself and see what this world has to offer & what it can bring out in me.

One thing that I’m reminded of here in the airport is the amount of outstandingly beautiful women there are in this world!!! Outrageous beauty! People from different places and backgrounds. It is great to see and & just reminds me how small a bubble we actually live in back home. To see such difference and uniqueness is refreshing. Different nationalities, languages, clothes, accents, hairstyles, colours, shapes, styles! It is a great thing to witness and a wonderful thing to experience. To be in the middle of it and part of it at the same time!! Incredible!!

arrival in india 2013

arrival in india 2013

Little did I know what lay ahead…….

India adventure 2013 – plane journey (last summer)

Thursday 6th june 2013 (Airport london)

First meeting with a fellow traveller. Random as ever. Interesting as ever. Something about these people that is so easy to connect with. An appreciation for and understanding of the importance of travel. The importance of seeing these places and meeting these people.  Therese Murphy from carlow. Heading to Uganda for few weeks followed by trip to kenya. All on her own. And people say I’m brave but she makes me look like a pussycat! She makes me feel better when she tells me she has been to india and travelled on her own there for a while.  No real problems. Get talking to another man, Harsham from bangalore but living in L.A.. Big into the cricket & soccer. Going home to Bangalore for a month to visit his family. We swap facebooks and part ways. Another short friendship that travelling always throws up. Most of these people will never be seen again but every meeting/person adds a bit to the story. As we part company,  I think to myself that its my first conversation with an Indian on this trip & if they are all as friendly everything will be sound.

On the plane now waiting for take off from London. Next stop Delhi. €205 has been changed into 11,300 rupees.  Wonder how far that will go? Still no accommodation booked in Delhi.  Think I’ll just wing it when I get there.  Am arriving at 10.40 am so surely manage something.  Plane is weird.  Looks like an Indian decorated sitting room!

Nearing end of flight now. Nice flight, good music on headsets provided makes the long flight a lot easier.  Sitting beside Lucy on flight.  Girl from England heading to Bangkok travelling alone.  Quit her job and has spent last 8 weeks in America.  Now 8 weeks in Asia and plans to go to work in Australia then. Very quiet but nice and pleasant.  Easy company, which is nice on long flight!! I find the fact that she is going solo shiws a certain braveness behind that timid exterior. Shows a bit of character and I like that about her. She reminds me of 2 people I know (unfortunately can’t mention names!!) Talks, acts and looks like them. Maybe they are related but I wont ruin it by asking, I’ll just let myself believe that they are in some way related. We discuss our plans and she says that she wants to be more unorganised and unplanned like me but says she would worry about doing it that way and she could well be proved correct!  She strikes a chord with me when she says I’m on a real ADVENTURE! That is exactly what it is, an adventure.  Not knowing what to expect excites me. The more different and challenging the better. Whatever may happen,  I must remember that it is part of my adventure of life. Try to embrace it and but don’t worry too much about things. Life will go on & situations will come and go. Next stop is delhi airport…… ready for the next step!!

As I sip a coffee in the airport, I try to plan my next move. I have seen outside and it looks swamped with people. I know I will need to be organised and prepared before stepping out into the madness. No accommodation booked. Wi-fi in airport won’t work. Think I’ve already come close to being ripped off by hotel provider area in airport. Asked for cheapest place and she came back with price of 1800 rupees (around $31). Not expensive but sounds like a rip off in India. I decide to pass (turned out to be the wrong option!!) & stop for a coffee as I plan my next move.

I remember the Indian travel book I “borrowed” from library back home (p.s. if anyone reading this works in the library, I will be in to pay all fines soon!) I begin to look up places to stay in delhi and it gives great rundown (what I didn’t realise at the time was this guidebook was about 15 years old and severely outdated to say the least!!) ( I must also admit that i later tried unsuccessfully to sell on that book to a book trader who refused to buy because it was so old! I also find it kind of amusing that I sunk to the low of trying to sell a library book, and even more shameful to think that I failed and had to abandon it in india further down the line!!!)  Oblivious to this at that time, I Scribble down few addresses and my next big move is to find taxi. I know that if I book in airport it will be more expensive,  but safer. If I book outside, it will be more of an adventure but also more dodgy! I decide to make my decision on way to exit. Hopefully, next time I write I will be lying in hotel/hostel after a shower and shave!!

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go!!

Thursday 6th June 2013 ( on bus to airport for flights to new delhi, india)

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go!!

The day, the moment, the beginning of the journey has finally arrived. The beginning of a new chapter of my life. A blank canvas to be painted. A mixture of emotions fill me right now. Excitement are nervousness are in there but i have the happy life loving feeling. The kind of feeling you get on a Friday when the weekend is upon you. The past year has been my week and the next couple of months are my weekend!! I have thought and daydreamed about this moment all year. The word that comes to mind that best sums up my thoughts and feelings is “FREEDOM”. Freedom from routine, freedom from everydayness of life. Freedom to explore the world, meet people and enjoy the journey of discovery. Discovery of myself and the world I live in. It dawns on me this morning one of the reasons I want to travel alone. It’s a challenge. To be able to survive and get my own way around. Find my way in the world. Independence.

I wonder what lies ahead. India? I know not much. No accommodation booked & no plan. Am I carefree & adventurous or stupid & unprepared. Probably a bit of both. I wonder about the people I will meet. This excites me as I think of all the people I have met and friends I have made over the past few years. I wonder about travelling alone. I have been told that I have the personality for it & would mix with anyone. Of course, i grow a few inches in confidence every time I hear this. I do believe that I have the right attitude & open mindedness to make it work. My previous travels have opened my eyes and taught me some valuable lessons. I am sure this Summer will teach me a lot more. That’s what it is all about – experiences and learning.

I think back on some of the high points and low points from my travels last year. One sticks with me. The morning I left 250 euro in an ATM in Barcelona. Hungover and depressed I was that morning. Then, that night at beach party losing my i-phone. Cancelled insurance few months before. Typical. Funny though, i often think of that day as one of the best days of my life!! The craic at the beach party with Fabian (German), the Yanks & all the rest of the crew. A big group of mixed nationalities partying all night on the beach. Crazy shit. I look back on the 250 euro and the i-phone and laugh. Great story to tell I suppose and I’ll never walk away from an ATM again without taking my money!! While reflecting on this, I decide to make a pact with myself right here and now. Whatever happens, good or bad, I promise myself to fully experience what is happening. Be happy, be sad, be afraid, be pissed off, be frustrated, be amazed……but always remember that this is all part of the journey. In fact, it’s part of what makes the journey. I know the journey will not always be smooth but it will be my journey & I am here to enjoy it. Enjoy life. I feel alive today. Really ALIVE and it’s the best feeling in the world!!

On plane for London now………………………………

No turning back now. Strange feeling came over me getting food at the airport. It suddenly dawned on me that I will probably not see a familiar face for whatever time I will be away. 10 weeks without seeing anyone you know is a fair stretch. Tis a funny feeling of excitement and tinged slightly with sadness. One thing for sure, I’ll miss my family, all of them. Family is funny. We are all very close in our own little ways and I will miss each of them a lot. I will also miss football. A big part of me will feel that I’m letting the lads down when there is a game on but I know that I have to do this now. I want to see the world and there is no point looking back with regret in the future thinking about what I should have done.

Brief thought goes through my head…..” Jesus, what if something happens to me out there, nobody to help me out!” The thought is very brief and I try to counteract it by telling myself things will be cool. I am a great believer in faith. I feel that things happen for a reason. If we can always think that everything happens for a reason, then we can learn to better accept and embrace things that happen, be they good or bad. While at the airport, i come across a book called “Shantaram”. Jim Hamilton told me about it last night while we were having a few pints down there. I checked the price (€15.70). Pricey. I thought about all the books I already had. But then I thought to myself this must be meant to be!! Someone could be pointing me in this direction! And I’m not going to mess with faith so I bought the book and now I am glad I did. Would have regretted not doing so. Good man Jim!! Thanks for the free pint of Guinness and the good advice!!

“I learned that…

“I learned that courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear”