All Year Summer

11 countries, 11 months, 5 religions, 4 continents, 4 seasons, 3 health issues that required clinical treatment, 3 foreign pre-paid sim cards, 3 times diarrhoea, 3 secret hopes, 2 quick stops at “home”, 1 motorbike accident, 1 constantly overweight suitcase, 1 single solo Western blond traveller, 0 travel vaccinations, numerous dreams fulfilled, a great number of amazing people met, countless times spent laughing and crying…

There were good times, there were hard times…

I took my sabbatical year of non-paid leave at the University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague, left the editorial of the cultural web portal whose editor in chief I had been, promised the Coo Boo publishing house that I would complete my book commissioned by them on my travels, said goodbye to my yoga and language students, to my family and friends, sold out my things, brought a few of the remaining ones to my mum´s place in the Czech Ore Mountains and took off with the amount of 8,666 USD in my life savings…

The money got spent throughout the 11 months mostly on flight tickets and other means of transport, travel insurance, national insurance I kept paying back in the CR, gifts, experiences etc. Yes, I could have bought a second hand car. I could have laid down a mortgage instalment for a nice little apartment. I could have done a lot of other things. But I did not. I went travelling. I decided to spend the money I had on fulfilling my dreams, on experiencing, on broadening my horizons…

The 11 countries were (in the order I travelled through them): Bali, Gili Air, Gili Meno – Indonesia; Krabi, Bangkok – Thailand; The Blue Mountains, Sydney, Byron Bay, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Cairns – Australia; Phnom Penh, Kampot, Kep, Koh Rong Samloen, Siem Reap – Cambodia; Dubai – United Arab Emirates; Maceió, Cascavel, Iguazu, Rio de Janeiro – Brazil; Santiago de Chile, Viña del Mar, Valparaíso – Chile; Lima, Pisac, Cuzco – Peru; Quintana Roo, Yucatán – Mexico; San Francisco – USA; Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang, Vientiane – Laos… and a return to Bangkok, Thailand, before my travel back to the Czech Rep.

I know. A better planner would not have kept jumping from various places back to South-East Asia. But I did not plan things much in advance. I went with the flow. All my flight tickets were a single-way ones. And I don’t regret it. And I do understand now that South-East Asia kept calling me back as it was my karma… Now, we are settled. It´s all been explained, meditated through, forgiven, understood. Or so I believe. That is why my journey took me through the wet season in Thailand in the beginning and in the end… because my relationship to rain is special… As much as I love water and do most of the healing of the self and others via the help of it, I had a real issue with the rain… and storms… and thunder… and lightening…

The 11 months covered: the end of June 2018 – the end of May 2019.

The 5 religions included: Hinduism (Bali), Buddhism (Thailand, Cambodia, Laos), Islam (Dubai), Christianity (Brazil, Chile, Peru, Mexico), and Shamanism (in the very same countries). The places I visited in Australia and San Francisco did not show many signs of a religious inclination…

The 4 continents were: Europe, Asia and Middle East, America (South, Central and North) and Australia.

The 4 seasons require the following explanation: though I followed the summer across the globe, even the weather can be moody and unpredictable and it certainly was in the Blue Mountains (Australia) and in the Sacred Valley (Peru) were it resembled spring and autumn more likely and early mornings, evenings and nights even winter, with temperatures dropping down to 5 degrees Celsius (and there were no heaters available in my place in Peru). And then I was in Dubai actually in winter, but the winter there is really the summer with temperatures around 26 degrees Celsius.

These 3 health issues occurred: inflammation of urinary bladder (in Thailand), allergy to insect bites (the Blue Mountains), ear inflammation (Sunshine Coast).

The 3 foreign pre-paid sim cards I bought were: Australian (the 1st one for 25 AD per month – 30 GB data, unlimited calls and texts in Australia, 150 mins international calls; the 2nd one for 9.99 AD per month, a special deal which only differed in the international calls – 30 mins), Cambodian (2 USD per month for the card, each data top up – about 2 GB – about 2 USD; unlimited calls to the same operator in Cambodia included in the price) and Mexican (26 USD for the card per month, including 3 GB of data and unlimited texts and calls in Mexico).

The 3x diarrhoea happened in 2 cases in Cambodia: once because of Chinese dumplings in a Sihanoukville restaurant, another time God knows why… Nevertheless, I loved Cambodia and would always go back again… My third time diarrhoea was basically a constant struggle to digest anything I ingested in Peru… I lost several kgs and eventually resigned on eating anything but vegetable soup and drinking warm herbal tea.

The 3 secret hopes that have not come to their fulfilment will remain my secret for the time being… But for any of you travelling in hope of the Eat, Pray, Love experience I have one little piece of advice: forget about movies, forget about books – your journey is YOUR journey. It is bound to be different.

The 2 quick stops at “home” happened in August 2018 and in February 2019: in August I needed to arrange and settle certain work issues. In February I came back to have my passport renewed, to deal with the taxes payment, to sort out my internet banking (oh well, when banks decide to change their online system and don´t expect anyone to be travelling for “that long”…) and to see my family after my dad´s big surgery. Both times I had a chance to lead some amazing yoga lessons and workshops in the region of my home town, which I am grateful for to Ilonka, Miluška and Nikol (opted for the alphabetical order as my love to you is equal)…

The 1 motorbike accident (and the first ever in my life) happened in Vang Vieng, Laos, when going down a rocky and sandy hill (I had always been afraid of such hills when driving a bike or a motorbike – now, I know why). My injuries were minor, including knee and instep scratches, haemorrhages and bruises. The scooter ended up in a worse state than me with a mirror destroyed, major scratches on the wheel covering and even some breaks of the plastic parts. Luckily, I got away with paying only 100,000 Kip as the man in the scooter rental felt compassionate with me…

The 1 constantly overweight suitcase was something special. In fact, I set off for the journey with one that got broken on my way from Santiago to Lima. I spent three hours arguing at the airport of Lima with the airline responsible – and eventually, I gained (some weeks later) a compensation that covered a half of the expenses on my new suitcase bought in Lima.

There was no backpack for me. I travelled my way. The suitcase was constantly overweight, carrying about 27 – 28 kg. So, if you think you cannot go travelling because you are not a typical backpacker, no worries – give it a go. I travelled in my own style and it worked out. Actually, the best thing about the suitcase is that you can push it or pull it most of the times and you can literally live in your suitcase, without needing to unpack and pack every now and then.

I just recently found out that “my way” of travelling is called flashpacking. Volunteering for board (via Workaway and Yoga Trade), Couchsurfing, finding cheap hostel accommodation via Airbnb… yet willing to spend open-handedly on experiences and enjoyments… That was the way I did it.

As for the 1 single solo Western blond traveller: Of course I was worried when setting off for the journey. But you know what? There truly is NOTHING to be afraid of. Because IF something shall go wrong, it can just as well happen while you´re “safely” settled in the comfort zone of your country, your street, amidst your friends and family. TRUST, RESPECT, INFORMATION and OBSERVATION are the magic words.

About the 0 travel vaccinations (and no antimalarials used preventively or brought onto the travels): I am generally not keen on vaccinations or pills. Some years ago, I got vaccinated against hepatitis A and B (God knows if these are still effective) when travelling to Vietnam (my first time in Asia). This time, I did not bother. Had I had myself vaccinated in correspondence with all the recommendations for the particular countries by the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I would have probably gotten sick just because of all the injections that my body (not even used to antibiotics any more or painkillers) could not cope with. But – each to their own.

The numerous dreams fulfilled cannot all be named out but shall all be remembered: such as seeing 3 of the 7 New World Wonders (Christ the Redeemer, Iguazu Falls and Machu Picchu – there are three remaining yet, as Colosseum has been the first one I experienced a long time ago), diving in Bali (for the first time in my life) and at the Great Barrier Reef, praying at the part of Ulun Danu Beraten temple in Bali (the temple in my dreams which brought me onto the journey) which is normally closed to tourists, practising Suriya Namaskar at sunrise on Gili Meno, experiencing the Balinese traditional Ngaben ceremony, meditating with Buddhist monks, receiving blessings in several Hindu and Buddhist temples, visiting Angkor Wat and the paradise island of Koh Rong Samloen, opening myself up to sound healing therapy, experiencing cacao ceremonies and rapé ceremonies, connecting with the water in the Sacred Valley, experiencing the carnival in Brazil and dancing samba in Rio de Janeiro, fully opening up to the potential of water and shamanic healing, practising yoga with several amazing international teachers (thank you, Karl, Nick, Dawn, Shawn, Courtney, Duncan, Jeff, Blooming Lotus, Kelsey, Cat, Julia and Kasper), experiencing Christmas in a foreign country, trying out surfing (Australia), paddle boarding (Brazil) and caving (Laos) for the first time in my life, having my first ever photo taken with Santa, cuddling a koala bear, taking a selfie with a mother wallaby with a baby in her tummy pocket, seeing my first ever hummingbird, swimming in cenotes and the Caribbean as well as the Gulf of Mexico, or experiencing the Alms Giving in Luang Prabang which showed me the importance of humbleness and acceptation of “what there is now”.

A great number of amazing people met: many thanks to you, Dream, for being so inspirational at your youthful age of early twenties, thank you, Kerry, for passing on the words of “love and light” that shall never be just words, thank you for all you have done for me and for the “Something good has to come out of this!” Ashley, I shall remember your tears of sincere compassion at the airport when I was at my lowest, your patience when teaching me to surf, the magical New Year of sushi and fireworks (still hope to have a painting by you in my place someday), feeling so grateful to you, angelic Maggie, vibrant Melanie and all you other amazing folks at the Happy Buddha retreats for showing me the various ways of community living, volunteering and the different “realities” that CAN be lived as our CHOICE is the only thing that truly matters, thank you Ethan and Athill for being the two so needed, so contrasting yet equally loved and appreciated “life” teachers to me, thank you for the chance of cooking with you, Laughing Chef and Mindfulness Cooking, your food is a blessing on the plate, many sincere thanks to you, dear Nabil, you undiscovered yet preacher of light and collectiveness, for bringing me to stunning, dearly beloved Dubai and allowing me to experience the night of magic, karmic forgiveness and meditation in the desert, thank you to my sisters and brothers in spirit for crossing my path when I was ready: love you, Angie, Gosia, Marcela, Celine (just for what you are), missing you, my little brother, Marco, love and light and the “tamarindo sagrado” blessing to you, my dear Oscar; and last but not least, muchas gracias, Oscar Joe, for helping me discover my Mayan spiritual connection, I shall remember the goodbye by the fire in your back-yard and the spinal sensations that showed me the undiscovered yet bits of my being that is so much more than the body and mind… Those of you not named out here but met on the journey of the self, through the self, to the self – even without naming you out, I remember you and keep you in my prayers…

Thank you to my family and Czech friends who supported me thoroughly during my journeying and who were there for me when I was down and hopeless… a special thank you to Jana, Vojta and Jan for helping me find cheaper flight tickets to comply with my budget, and you, Nabil, for being the Emirates back-up for me – especially on my way “home”… and a dear, loving than you to Janicka, Eliska and Misa for being there when I needed a friend on the phone..

Last but certainly not least, thank YOU, my best ever webmaster and dearly beloved friend Milan, for always being ready to help out with my web and blog and being flexible with my crazy schedules and timings, for putting up the articles regardless time differences, for coping with the pressures of “I need it now, right now” (as sometimes the Wi-Fi was limited or none and then I simply “needed to have it done before it slips my mind”)… thank you mostly, for being so grounded when it came to my melodramatic artistic nature and all the “I feel so much at ease here, I cannot leave the place, it breaks my heart apart” and then “I find it so hard to fall in love with this new place” and then “I love it here” a few days later… you have known me since I was eighteen, you know, oh you just KNOW, and I am so grateful that you “took it for what it was” and always came with the “Don’t sit in the corner, Baby” which made me get up and go to the streets to gather the shy and sincere smiles of the locals and to imprint them into my heart…

Finally, as for the countless times spent laughing and crying… There were easy times for sure, but there were tough times too… life – especially traveller´s life – is no bed of roses… or actually – it is: it literally IS a bed of roses: sweet and beautiful and colourful and noble – but oftentimes, nobody removes the thorns for you…

And – to answer the FAQ I got a lot during my travels:

1. Where did you get the money for this?
I have been saving up since my first ever summer job (of making pancakes and scooping ice cream) when I was 14.

2. What did you volunteer with?
I volunteered as a yoga teacher, a yoga retreats space-holder, a social media manager, a chef´s assistant, a receptionist, a dog-sitter, an English teacher and a university lecturer. I also did a bit of housekeeping and healing.

3. Were you always working/volunteering during your travels?
I took some vacation time (spending ten days in the house of my Brazilian friend Marcela) and was joined for three weeks on my travels by a friend of mine and for a week by one of my two sisters in blood. Still, I oftentimes ended up “volunteering” even in the “holiday” period, saving two puppies in Pisac (Peru), giving yoga lessons to friends and their families, helping out in temples, or teaching Lao children how to deal with waste differently than throwing it into the sacred cave water…

4. What would you recommend to pack for travels:
– passport, USD cash, credit/debit card
– smart phone (my travels were made easier by several offline apps; I cannot imagine travelling without (How did people do it in the past?): Google Translator, CurrencyPlus Convertor and Maps.Me
– driving skills – and an international licence
– contact lenses, dioptric glasses, medicine – if you use/might need any in particular, as well as several pairs of shoes if you travel to South-East Asia ad have big feet
– prayers, open heart, open mind, respect, gratefulness and the will to step out of your comfort zone

You can buy everything else at the airports, including sunglasses, mosquito repellents and bikini.

As for now…

I am coming back “home”, to the country of my origin, to sing up the leave at the university… my steps need to continue onwards, into the future yet unknown…

I keep using the word “home” in inverted commas as I know now that there is no such thing as one home, home is everywhere, anywhere, where your soul is (or grows into being) at peace. It can be the country where you were born, it can be the other end of the world. It can be a big house or a tiny weeny room in a shared apartment. It is a place where you are yourself. Otherwise it is not a home… it is merely a place where you live… That´s what they mean by “the home is in your heart”. If you don’t know yourself, your dreams, your hopes, your tools, what makes you tick, how can you really be at home? If you do know all of these, you will be at home on the floor of a 5 square metre shared room with no furniture, and your yoga mat for a mattress.

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