Emily Wandering Around the World...

My little online journal so my family & friends can keep in touch with me as I wander around the globe, and loving every minute of it.

Happy Holi!

March 16th is Holi - the Festival of Colour! All I can say is wow. What an amazing experience!

The story behind Holi is that it is essentially letting go of the past hardships of last year the night before with a large bonfire where you throw in pieces of paper of what you want to let go. There is a lot of drumming, dancing around the fire (which is wild and fun) and free food!! (AMEN TO THAT.) I went to two smaller bonfires with some local people and some travellers, there was a great mix of techno 2008 remixes, authentic live Indian drumming and some punjabi club hits which really brought the house down. My compliments to the DJ, he knows how to set the party mood in the best way.

The next day is the day most people know about, the morning of the colour fight. Originally, many of us in the group were a little nervous and weren’t 100% sure on going out to the busy street party (there were reported incidents of “groping” and very “friendly” people) but I had made the decision the night before that I would be going, come ass grab or not. Because realistically, I have never felt unsafe in Rishikesh, I frequently go on walks around town by myself (usually twice a day) and never get more than some looks that say “Good god has that woman ever seen the sun before!” So when someone told me “be careful you don’t want to get groped” I politely responded with “You’re right I don’t, not here or back home at EVERY club in Vancouver, I’m not missing this once in a lifetime moment. BYE!”

Let me tell you, this was definitely the opportunity of a lifetime. The visuals of that morning I can’t even really put info words. There’s something about seeing such a large group of people throwing the brightest and most vibrant powders at one another mixed with all the music, laughter and well wishes that can bring any person to well up inside.

The idea of the “colour fight” is to symbolize the death of the devil (last nights bonfire” and the leaving of all the pasta bad experiences and energies. It’s a time where quarrelling family members forgive and forget, and people come out in the streets to wish each other nothing be happiness and prosperity. There are many photos of people throwing these coloured powders at one another, but mainly people (in my case complete Indian strangers - men and wooden alone by the way) came up to smear coloured powder on my face, neck and arms to send their blessings, happiness and forgiveness to you. They gave me a hug and I returned the colour and blessings onto them. It was so wonderful, very healing and very transformative. I never once felt like I was being “groped” even though there was a few men who asked for pictures with us and everyone was extremely friendly. I just felt loved and like everyone wanted the best for me, who doesn’t want that?!

The pictures, yes they are wonderful. And I’m keeping my crazy coloured shirt forever. The best thing though was the feeling of everyone just wanting the best in their new year, letting go of the past and wanting you and your loved ones to do well from that moment on. That’s better than anything. That is a fact.

Rishikesh - Anand Prakash Ashram

At the moment I’m staying in Rishikesh which is just at the base of the Himalayas and the first larger city (bigger than the hill tribe villages) that the Ganges flows through. It’s considered quite a holy place and we’ve actually seen many Indian tourists here, coming to pay respects the “Ma Ganga” (Mother Ganges).

The ashram is so peaceful and there is such a great sense of calm around the entire city compared to all the other cities I’ve been to so far, which have just been complete chaos and exhausting. Here I can actually go out for a walk by myself and shop without being hounded every two steps I take. It’s a little weird taking so many pictures with the Indian tourists but it’s also pretty funny, I just wonder what they’ll do with that photo, make it they’re facebook profile picture? Haha it makes me laugh.

Rishikesh so far is easily my favourite place we’ve been to, we only have one other stop at the Sri Ram Orphanage for two days then it’s back to Delhi for 6 hours before my mum and I fly back home. We do have 6 glorious more days here though. My days are filled with about 2-4 hours a day of yoga and meditation, sunshine, fresh Himalayan breezes and walks around the town.

Did I mention I love it here? Cause I do.

The Update:

I have officially been here 7 days and so far the best way to describe it is….. Overwhelming. India amazes me and also exhausts me.

I never really put together just how many people are here…. There are a lot of people here, one might say too many people in fact. My senses have been assaulted with all kind of extremes, especial all the smells (let’s just say there are high points and low points to that one in particular). There is constantly something to see, touch, taste, hear and like I said before - smell (whether you want to or not).

So far I’ve been to Delhi (twice), Jaipur, Agra, Haridwar and Rishikesh (where I am now) in only 7 days. It’s been a week filled with long days, early mornings and lots of time on a bus with a hilarious your guide named Raj.

Raj has not only shown the 15 of us all the sights to be seen around the Golden Triangle, but had also had many little stories and fantastically great sayings. He also explained about traditional culture and current affairs (there is an election going on in the next two months) and talked a lot about religion as well (my favourite part!). He talked about the caste system and the people named Hijeras or “the 50/50’s” as Raj affectionately called them.

Hijeras were something I’ve never heard of before and their history and culture was quite a shock when I heard about it. Now, being in Thailand for 2 and a half months this summer, I had seen my fair share of lady boys. With that said Hijeras are a whole new ball game. The history of Hijeras dates back to the time where India was ruled by Rajas and Maharajas, they each had many wives and the wives wanted to be entertained, enter the Hijeras. The Hijeras, to explain the way Raj did “the man born in the man body but is feeling like a woman” would dress up in extravagant saris and jewels and dance around and entertain the Maharani (head wife). Here is where the twist comes in, to make sure there was no “risky business” going on between the Maharani or other wives and these Hijeras, to be employed as a Hijera you have to undergo a “surgery” (yes, that kind of surgery) to make sure nothing physical will ever happen, it’s done to show devotion the their lifestyle and craft, making it a permanent and irreversible life career. There’s much more to the story - so google it.

All in all the sightseeing was great, long days and a little tiring, but great. We went to so many forts, palaces, and cool restaurants and I even got my palm read by a wise old man. Very cool. We saw the Taj Mahal at sunrise which was breathtaking to say the least. We’ve also rode in Tuktuks, rickshaws and, horse drawn carriages. We’ve shopped at giant western shopping malls, quiet village shops and main Bazaars so full of people it was hard to breathe.

It’s been a crazy first week and I’m glad to be settled now for the next ten days in a peaceful ashram nestled at the base of the Himalayas, where the Ganges first starts to flow. Our days start at 5am with meditation and then yoga until 7:45, then breakfast followed by fire chanting and then free time for me! I’m using a little free time now to write this very post! The best part so far of Rishikesh is the amazing deal I get on ayervedic spa treatments, yesterday I got a full body hot oil massage for an hour for the smoking price of….. 15$! Needless to say I have found a good use of my 3 hours of free time in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon. We have 3 yoga classes a day taught by the resident guru Vishveji and so far I have had a wonderful first morning.

India - the land of extremes. Or as Raj puts it “Incredible India!”


Just a quick note to say hi to everyone, for some reason my mobile app for the blog isn’t really working. I’m here safe with mum, currently in Jaipur about to go have breakfast and then go see the city and buy a few things at the bazaar! 

More to come, if I ever fix this stupid app!

Wow how the time has past and looking back on this blog I can’t believe I forgot to include the photos of my time with the elephants. All in all I can say it was a pretty magical experience. I never thought that I would become so attached to my Elephant (Beebo) and the lovely volunteers I lived with in the jungle for those 3 weeks. I wish I had time to fully describe it, although I don’t think I could ever adequately do it justice, but I’m preparing my next trip to India. 

Which is actually tomorrow… so I better get to bed and get myself ready for yet another adventure!

Here’s a quick video of our first arrival at the elephant camp, the yellow houses you see in the video is where I stay over night! They overlook one of the elephant paddocks so I wake up at 5:30am to 6 elephants eating they’re morning grass and trumpeting. The word perfection is an understatement.

On our way to the Elephant camp, some of the general scenery around where we are.

The Chiang Mai Update:

So I have been in Chiang Mai for almost a week now, mostly working at Maetan Elephant Camp. I will do a big post about them soon enough but ill cover the things I have photos of now.

My first weekend in Chiang Mai I was staying at the volunteer house in the heart of Chiang Mai city. I stay there on the weekends or I can travel around Chiang Mai. This weekend for instance I’ll be going up to Pai, a small city or town about 3 or 4 hours away from Chiang Mai. It’s apparently one of the nicest places in all if Thailand and has a great local culture so I’m excited to check it out!

On Monday I left for the elephant camp which is where I stay Monday through Friday afternoon. The camp is about an hour and a half away from any kind of city or town, beautifully built inside the jungle, surrounded by misty mountains covered with the greenest trees you’ve ever seen and right next to a gorgeous fresh water river where we bathe our elephants twice a day. It’s really indescribably beautiful. But more about that in the next post.

Over the course if my first week at the camp we went hiking everyday in the mountains in our free time, went swimming in the near by resort and got some very rare wifi and visited the local Long Neck tribe.

The Long Neck tribe that lives in the village is one of the only tribes in all of Thailand. Originally they come from Burma running from persecution most if the time and now have citizenship here in Thailand. They live up on the mountain and sell beautiful scarves, tapestries and other woven or wooden handicrafts. They truly have such a peaceful Ora around them and are so kind, we met so many beautiful women and their adorable children! The Long Neck tribal people was definitely high up on my “favourite things I’ve done so far” list.

Ill post more about my elephant (Bee Bop) and his and my home next, and get some more pictures posted.

I’m constantly learning while I’m here and becoming so thankful for what I have. The things you learn and experience traveling like this can’t be learnt or experienced any other way. I love it.

A quick flashback to Ayutthaya where I was teaching the first graders with a few other volunteers. Here we were teaching them colours, some better than others.. Haha!

Only two more days left in Ayutthaya then I leave for Chiang Mai and for the elephant camp! Although I’m just getting over some travellers flu I got yesterday, but it was nice to indulge in my Pinterest page and FaceTime with my friend Dana! So all in all not so bad.

I’m so excited and sad at the same time to leave my little volunteer family, luckily ill be meeting up again with a few later in my travels and my friend Jonah as well from back home!

At the same time it’s a new adventure and I know that if its anywhere close to the experience I had here in Ayutthaya it will be another life changing learning lesson.

I cannot recommend traveling more after only being here a month I’ve learned so much and grown so much. I feel so different already and I’m so excited to continue learning and exploring! Especially at the age that I am (20 years old) its really helped in solidifying my priorities really are, where I want to be in life and what I want out of life. I just hope I can keep this same passion back at home, ill try my best!

Spent this weekend in Bangkok and met up with Jonah, a friend from back home and his friend Alois from Germany. It was so good to see someone I knew and to hear all about his amazing travels (He’s been traveling through Australia for the past 4 months).

We took a boat tour around one of the canals in Bangkok, visited the temple of the “Big standing Buddha”, went to Sky Bar and also saw Chinatown at night.

My two favourite things and something I wuld highly recommend doing was our night trip to Sky Bar (famous for being in the movie “The Hangover Part 2) and Chinatown was unlike anything I have ever seen (and I live in Vancouer which has a very high asian populaiton!). I will definetely go back to chinatown on my last days in Bangkok before I fly out to buy a few things, like Goji berries and Tiger Balm (Both can be found in large quantities for less that 5$!!!)

I love you Thailand, you have so many different things to offer.

*I should also mention that there are a ton of new pictures of my trip on my flickr account, click here!

National Teacher Apprieciation day was last thursday and I felt so trully lucky to have such wonderful students. We were given flowers and the students said some prayers in our name. It is such a great thing to watch someone learn and the joy they feel when they finally start understanding and learning.

It is a little strange when the kids ask for my signature or to take a photo with them, never really felt like such a celebrity. It is really sweet and they are so kind and loving Im happy to ablige, but I can see how it would get old if you were a big star.

I start teaching the little ones again this week (preschool - grade 3) and Im hopeful that maybe I can start small conversation work with them. They love to sing songs and playing pictionary, especially boys vs. girls (which has now been exiled.).

Teaching has really helped open my eyes to how much education at an early age like that really sets you up for the rest of your life. I have really been conciously thankful for my education and the things I have been able to do because of my countries education system.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
It truly warmed my heart to read this sweetheart. There is nothing more rewarding as a parent than to hear such loving words from my daughter. I am so happy that you are throwing yourself into this experience. You are so incredibly precious to me and I love you so much! xx
little-nomad little-nomad Said:

Love you mum & dad xoxo

Thank you!

Missing my mum and dad tonight, thinking of you guys under the stars in Thailand! Thank you so much for being the most supportive and loving people I’ve ever known, and always pushing me to do the things you know I need to do.

You have both always been a great inspiration to me and the biggest influence on how I live my life. I hope I do you proud.

*also big shout out to my dad and his company Quickmobile who won a BCTIA award tonight, I hope to be as good a business owner as you are someday dad. I’m so proud to call you my father and I’m so happy and thankful that all your hard work is finally being recognized. I hope I get my work ethic from you, because I will be unstoppable if so!!

Love you both! Xox

Koh Tao: Paradise has been found.

Spending the weekend on the Island of Koh Tao with my new friends Linda and Julia (from Germany) some fellow volunteer teachers in Ayutthaya. They are so sweet and we make an excellent 3 travelling musketeers!

The only aggregating part about this beautiful and I mean UNBELIEVABLY beautiful place, is that it takes you 18 hours of straight travel (not including delays, and there are always delays) to get here. We started our trip at 4pm Wednesday afternoon and arrived finally at Koh Tao at 11am the next day. With that said, once your here you completely forget that you traveled so far and how exhausted you are. You lay on the beach and your troubles just melt away!

Koh Tao has many reefs and is a hot spot for scuba diving, so guess what I’m doing today! Learning to scuba dive for the first time! No time to do my full certificate but never the less, scuba diving!!!

Today we can expect to see (according to our instructor): a Whale Shark, giant sea turtles, more than 2,000 different species of fish and sting rays!

I’m so excited I can barely wait, I think I’ll come back near the end of my stay and do the 3 day certificate program so I can dive around the other southern islands without paying as much and being certified would be awesome for future travels!

So excited! Love it here, what a good way to spend a weekend.