I made it to my 30th country, one that has always been high on my list to visit. Australia, you're wonderful, and I enjoyed every minute of my visit. I know I will be back to work for a period of time.
My time in Australia flew by. One of my best friends, Kayla, did a solo trip through SE Asia and ended up moving to Australia. Seeing her was one of my main reasons for going to Australia when I did. Kayla left for her trip the same time I left for India in 2015. Her original plan was to travel around SE Asia for three months, but fell in love with an English man, Josh, and the two of them moved to Australia. They dedicated a year to working hard and saving all their money for another travel adventure. I returned home after 7 weeks in India, and remember being so envious of Kayla and her continued adventure.
When I first met Kayla, I wouldn't have expected her to be the woman she is today. I admire her for taking a leap of faith and getting rid of everything to travel. She knew what she ultimately wanted and has found it in her travels. Watching Kayla's adventures unfold after I returned back to work was an inspiration for me. It was the motivation I needed to do the same. I am proud to be her friend. She shines brighter now than she ever has and is living life to the fullest. Because of this, I knew I had to go to Australia to see her.
Kayla and Josh were wrapping up their last month of work when I arrived. It was fun to be with them during the transition of getting back to the travel life. Since Kayla and Josh worked opposite schedules, I got to spend quality time with both them. Meeting Kayla's mystery man was great. Josh is laid back and easy to get along with which made me really enjoy our time together, not to mention he loves yoga. Before they wrapped up work, I found a yoga Ashram outside of Sydney to volunteer at for a few weeks.
Finding yoga Ashrams along my travels is the one thing that makes me feel most grounded. I love being part of a yogic community where judgement does not exist. Although the daily routine was long and left me exhausted by 8:00 pm, I craved the routine and lifestyle. I felt so welcomed and loved the moment I arrived. I stayed at Mangrove Ashram for 11 days. There was no wifi at the Ashram, so I got to completely disconnect for a bit. Not having my devices or having to come up with a daily routine freed my mind and allowed me to be completely present. It was magical. I cherish my time at Mangrove Ashram and left with some incredible friendships.
One of the girls I met, Jean, has instantly become a life-long friend. I can already see the reason why the universe brought us together. You see, Jean is very into meditation, and her dedication to a two hour daily practice was inspiring for me to be around. Not to mention, we have the same sense of humor. My perfect Jean has completed three Vipassana courses (10 days of silence) which is something I've been wanting to do for awhile. Jean's presence in my life came at the perfect time because I've been debating on signing up for a course, and now I know my time is coming soon. Besides meditation, Jean is a traveler and free spirit like me. I'm looking forward to the day we meet again, wherever that will be.
The most challenging thing I have faced while traveling is my desire to be a vegetarian vs. the reality of actually being one. I have let eating chicken slide quite a bit. I am not okay with the poor treatment of animals and being a vegetarian makes for a more sustainable world. So, in a perfect world, I would actually be vegan. But, that being said, I love the taste of meat and it's hard to work around this when you aren't around other vegetarians, esp as the newbie that I am. I am not the type to beat myself up over this. So I've decided to continue to eat vegetarian whenever I can, and be okay when I can't. It's the best of both worlds, and I know I'm still making an impact by cutting back the way I have. It's crazy to think about how much I used to eat meat and how little I do now. I would love to hear advice from anyone who has gone through this transition themselves and any tips they might have while traveling? I'm over the label of calling myself something based on what I eat, but I want to continue to be mindful about the topic.
Before coming to Australia, Kayla had mentioned that her and Josh wanted to get a camper van and do a road trip up the coast. When I arrived, their original plan fell through and the person they were getting the van from sold it. The cost of getting our own van wasn't in the budget, so we were stuck trying to come up with a plan of how to see more of Australia before we left. We had found cheap flights to the Philippines and booked them out of Brisbane, so we knew we had to make the 9 hour trip up the coast. The question became, how can we do this the cheapest way possible?
Once again, the universe aligned in our favor. Josh's friends from home, Fiona and Fran, were selling their van and found someone to buy it in Brisbane. It couldn't have worked out any better since we needed to be in Brisbane to fly out. Our road trip dreams became a reality, and we got to take Venus on an adventure up the coast. Let me just say, this road trip is one of the biggest highlights of my life. I think everyone should rent a van and go on a road trip once in their life!