Finding the rainbow

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When I came to Europe, I had no plans whatsoever on what to do or where to go, except one which was to meet my Rainbow Family for the first time. I started hitching from Zatec, Czech Republic where I helped out at a small organic farm. The hitch from Zatec all the way to Budapest, Hungary was very smooth and quick and only took me 2 rides and from Budapest, I took a bus up north to the small village of Bercel.

Equipped with my map and directions on a piece of tattered paper, I disembarked the bus and was immediately greeted warmly by 2 guys with great smiles. “Welcome home brother!” they called out followed with hugs. I am home!

As they were heading out to run some errands, me, Victoria the Argentinian woman I met on the bus and her 2 intelligent young daughters started our hike to the gathering site together, which according to the 2 brothers that greeted us, would only take us about an hour. 4 long hours later, with a baby pram on my shoulder and an exhausted crying toddler IMAG0580with us, we finally saw the sun arch we were supposed to see 3 hours ago, and just in the nick of time as it had gotten darker. Greeted with warm hugs and smiles and ‘Welcome home!’, we made our way to the main campsite and pitched tents. This is home for the next month, I happily thought to myself.

Having been on the road for the past 19 months being on the move constantly, the idea of staying in one place for a period of longer than a few days is just beautiful to me. The thought of having a home, even a temporary one is brilliant.

Food circle had just ended prior to our arrival but there were still leftIMAG0482overs for us to fill our bellies. The official gathering would only start a week later so there were only about 20 of us seed campers at the time. Nonetheless, it was a magical first night filled with bonfire, music, chanting, dancing, mushroom tea, and star-gazing.

The following week went very quickly. We were busy setting up the site for the arrival of our family members and that included making shit pits/compost toilets, setting up a kitchen, building the main fire and organizing drinkable running water among other things. People slowly started arriving and the ambience and atmosphere grew livelier.

10626317_10205414787795773_3398185206087546811_oI decided to move my tent from the old campsite to a beautiful empty clearing in the forest (which we later named Dragon’s Nest) by the main fire. I was the first inhabitant of Dragon’s Nest. At the peak of the Rainbow gathering on full moon night, Dragon’s Nest population grew to 25 brothers and sister and the whole gathering attracted over 1000 people altogether.

The gathering is the highlight of my European trip by far. The whole energy of the gathering was just peaceful and joyful. I would just sit there by myself on the meadow and watch the activities happening around me. A whistle flute playing in the background, dancers flying their hypnotic kites in the sky, children running around laughing, people of different backgrounds and appearances coming together sharing stories and laughter.

On a normal day, I would sit by my campfire making chapati for the other campers and IMAG0842family walking past. In return, they would bring chai, music or herbs. There’s actually no monetary exchange at the gathering except for the donation you can contribute at the food circle that goes towards feeding everyone present. Other than that, sharing and bartering are encouraged.

40 days after that moment I walked under the sun arch, it was time for me to leave. I would have loved to stay longer but as I had been in the Schengen zone for almost 90 days, it was time to move on. A very sad day it was. Everytime I look back to that time in Bercel, a smile creeps onto my face. I look forward to my next gathering, wherever and whenever that may be.

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Finding the rainbow

What have I been up to?

Last I wrote on here, I had just been rejected from a flight to Germany from Vietnam because of terrorism suspicion. I was devastated. Well, that did not discourage from trying again so I worked some more to earn the money for another flight. A couple of months later, I made it! I flew from Bangkok to Stockholm and boy, was I excited on that flight. That was 7 months ago, so I have a lot to catch you up on. Instead of writing a long post on how my time in Europe have been, I’ll give you an update with photos.

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Reunited with my vagabro, Jesper who I travelled with in Malaysia.

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Painting at Cuvry squat, Berlin.

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Saying goodbye to my Czech Family in Zatec, CZ.

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World Rainbow Gathering, Hungary 2014.

Continue reading “What have I been up to?”

What have I been up to?

Troubles in Ho Chi Minh City

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I had been looking forward to finally fly to Europe after months of working hard and saving up for the flight ticket. The day finally arrived, I was on the Vietnam Airlines flight bound for Ho Chi Minh City and another boarding pass for Frankfurt in my hands.

As an ex flight attendant, I am always observant on flights. The crew service standards, safety procedures and their general behaviour and demeanor. Horrible english proficiency, I couldn’t understand what was being said during the safety demonstration and the crew members looked miserable. Nonetheless, we landed in Ho Chi Minh city safely.

Upon arrival, there was an announcement being made for me to proceed to the gate for the next flight immediately. I went and saw them, they took my passport and told me to wait. 20 minutes later, the station manager came and took my passport from her colleague and looked at me from afar. She looked at me and my passport photo for a good 10 minutes before approaching me. She asked me what was my intention of going to Europe. I told her, I’m a traveller and I want to see the world. She then insinuated that the passport I was using was not mine. I was asked for all photo IDs I had so I presented her with my old passport, my ID card, my bank card and even a collection of old passport photos I carry in my wallet. She still accused me of travelling using a stolen passport. just because I have lost weight, and I have a beard and afro now.

3 immigration officers came to the scene and took me and all my belongings to the interrogation room. They searched through all my things, asked me a million questions and would not let me have a cigarette which I desperately needed.

Hours I spent in that room answering the same questions over and over. What was I doing in Vietnam? Why did I not take a direct flight to Frankfurt? Whose passport was I using? What was my intention of going to Germany? What is the address of my friend in Europe? Among other stupid questions. One of them even asked me why I decided to grow a beard. I said to him it was none of his business.

They suspected me of suspicious terrorist activity!

I asked to call my country’s embassy but was refused.

After I managed to convince them that the passport was indeed mine, they then accused me of passport counterfeit. It was ridiculous! at this point, of course the flight to Frankfurt had already departed. another hour went by and I was finally set free. Set free to have access to the transit area and finally have access to the toilets.

I was told I had to go back to Malaysia where I started the journey. Vietnam Airlines had the audacity to ask me to purchase the flight back to Kuala Lumpur when this was all their fault in the first place. Of course I refused, solely for the principle. And I could not afford it but of course I did not tell them that. I stood my ground and told them if they refuse to put them on that flight on their expense, I will leave the airport and enter Vietnam. Of course I was told that was impossible as I was already recorded in their system. they were ready to let me wait there until I gave in with no access to any restaurants, food and even drinkable water. Another threat from me, I managed to score a couple bottles of water.

I decided to set up my sleeping back right beside their transit counter and was ready to stay there for as long as possible. Just to piss them off.

I was awoken quite rudely by one of their staffs in the morning, gave me a new boarding pass and shooed me off to the gate. I was treated like a criminal by all of their staff members up to the point I left their horrible flight back in Malaysia. I had asked them for a flight refund earlier and was told that it was a promotional flight so I forfeit my money. ASSHOLES!

Now I am back where I started. Back in Penang. No job, no flight ticket and very little money. Now I have decided to just take it easy and relax with my travels. Do not rush it and not to put so much pressure on myself now. Within 3 months, I will be on that flight heading west once again. And not with that terrible VN airlines definitely.

It was a nightmare but I gained a great story.

I have always asked the universe to give me Tom Hanks’ life in Castaway. Self-sustaining jungle coastal life away from civilization. Instead she gave me Tom Hanks in The Terminal.

Troubles in Ho Chi Minh City

Bigger adventures await!

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8 months since I sold all my belongings and decided to leave home to explore the world for an indefinite period of time. I cannot believe it has been that long, even though it feels like a short period of time.

I have finally bought my flight ticket to Frankfurt, Germany. It is time for this hairy gypsy to leave the comforts and familiarity of Asia and get out of his comfort zone. New and bigger adventures await. ‘Life begins at the end of your comfort zone’, I heard someone say once.

The original plan was to go to Europe to start traveling moneyless together with my sister but she told me a couple of days ago that she is moving on to the Caribbeans very soon. So it seems I will be traveling alone yet again. I mean I do not mind traveling by myself, but the idea of doing Europe without money by myself seems a bit daunting. I blame this fear on settling down in Penang for too long, I have forgotten how exciting the fear of the unknown and being helpless can be.

This time I really need to do my research and do a little planning or I am just setting myself up for trouble. I must at least know which route to go, learn about hitchhiking in Europe, couches to surf or places I am able to pitch my tent. With only 200 euros to my name, if I play it right, should still be in my pocket by the end of the year.

The German volunteer at the hostel I work at has been telling me amazing stories about Rainbow Gatherings and now that I’ll be traveling alone, It will be possible for me to atttend the one in Romania and Italy this summer. I am extremely excited for that!

I guess I should not be too afraid as I have made plenty of European friends the past 8 months. It would be fabulous to see them again in their hometowns.

My vagabro Jesper reminded me a few days ago to start doing the grateful exercise again. The three things I am grateful for today are, the Magnum ice cream my employer bought for me today, this temporary job that I have right now so I am able to make some rainy day money for Europe and also grateful for having the courage to embark on this nomadic journey, for had I not left, I would not have achieved this peace I am currently feeling and be much closer towards achieving the enlightenment I’ve been looking for.

Penang has been extremely good to me. She has been my home for the past few months but it really is time for me to say goodbye. If or when I come back to Asia, at least I know I have a place I can consider making my home.

Bigger adventures await!

Love letter to myself

Dear Freddy,

I know I haven’t really appreciated you for most of the duration of our relationship. It took me 27 years to finally be able to really love you and see the beauty in you.

Please believe me when I say you are such an amazing person. A beautiful soul.
I am very proud of you for always overcoming obstacles and coming out stronger. I know I have not always been there for you when times were tough but you always managed to pull through.

Now I see how much you radiate positive energy all the time. This is a big contrast from what you used to be 3 to 5 years ago. I am extremely amazed at your transformation.

I also am proud of how you don’t just cruise through life. You make your own life. The proudest I am of you is now. You go for what you want and you let nothing stop you. You took the risk of leaving the comforts of home, career and familiarity and left to explore the beauty of the world.

One of your strongest qualities I would have to say is your compassion for others. You are very kind and caring and will put other people’s welfare before you. Not many people possess that quality and for that, you should always be proud of your selflessness.

I know that when it comes to love and relationship, that area you always have problems with but bear in mind, I love you and you love me. For now that should be enough. We have a strong relationship with each other and with that, nothing else matters.

To end this, no matter what situation you are in, always tell yourself, ‘I am capable, I am strong, I am beautiful and I am free,’. Keep being who you are, keep doing what you do and joy will always be with you.

I love you always,
Freddy

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Love letter to myself