not all who wander are lost.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Photos from my Kathmandu adventures with Maria...

Thank God for Good People

Thank God for Good People. 

1. Maria:
Maria and I were seated next to each other on the broken-down, beaten-up bus that was making the long bumpy journey from Pokhara to Kathmandu. We were instant friends, talking about everything from our Asian travels to yoga to "boys". We giggled and teared up, we slept and then drank chai. Just as I'd done on my
arrival into Kathmandu I did on my departure: I hopped in a cab with a new found friend and followed suit. She took us to Thamel, the touristy hip area in the capital. I was so grateful because emotionally I was shot- my brain was toast. She arranged our room and then put us in a bicycle rickshaw for a tour through town, which ended in Darbur Square. She acted as my tour guide, showing me the amazing sights around the square and filling me in on the backstory. We ate momos in a dodgy little hole in the wall, sipped tea at a fancy rooftop restaurant and then walked and shopped and talked. She saw me off at 5 this morning and we vowed to meet up again somewhere someday soon. 

2. Johnny + Steph:
While waiting in line to board the plane I had a brief but nice encounter with a couple. Lucky me, I was seated in their row for the flight. Johnny and Steph have been together for 10 years, and have been living and working in Thailand for about 5 of them. Johnny is from Ireland and Steph is from Germany. They are travel junkies, and love living in Bangkok thanks to its easy accessibility to travel to amazing (and cheap!) places. Have one of the worlds largest international airports in your backyard definitely has its perks. We shared and compared out adventure stories, I read their palms, and we talked about trips that we look forward to taking in the years ahead. After an emotional week and exciting morning I was so grateful for the down-to-earth, totally stellar couple, who made my flight to Delhi a memorable one. We exchanged details and next time I'm in Bangkok I will certainly be hitting up their guest bedroom. 

3. Nidhi: 
Picture're in an airport and you can't leave. Just a few steps outside the door is everything you need: Internet, SIM cards...and Internet! These are two things that cannot be purchased in the airport for any price. So my cell phone wouldn't work, I couldn't get on the Internet, and I had no way of even making an expensive overseas call (sometimes these newer high-tech airports aren't so accommodating to those who aren't "connected"). Again, I could feel my throat tighten with sadness and anxiety. The problem was that now I would be arriving around midnight. A friend in Sri Lanka had arranged my transport and where I was staying. I had no way to contact him to tell him of the change, to come up with a new game plan, or to book a cheap hotel near Galle. Anywho I started talking with Nidhi, the girl at the AirTel (cell service) counter. Her hands were stained pink from this past weeks Holi festival, and she was the one who (sadly) informed me that there was no way for me to make a call or go online. Well, what to do what to do? I told her thanks and that I was headed to grab a tea at The Coffee Bean. She said "No! Go to the Starbucks. They have fancy coffees with chocolates and all sorts of beautiful things". She said that she'd never had one but that they looked great and that I should go there for one of them. We started talking about my dilemma before I headed off and she let me use the company's computer (a major no no which she could have gotten in trouble for) and then she called a hotel in Galle from her cell phone to tell them about my 3am arrival. She really saved my butt, so a few minutes later I returned with the largest, fanciest, froofiest, chocolatey-whipped-cream-Frappacino goodness that Starbucks had. Her eyes were the size of tennis balls and she must have said thank you about a thousand times. I don't think that she enjoyed the flavor so much, more accustomed to the uber-sweet chai of local India, but it was more about what the modern beverage meant- so she slurped it down with a smile. 

All in all, I could not have survived these past 24 hours without these four very special people. I think that good people attract good people, but I also would like to think that my Dad had a hand in all of it too. The lesson here: that a smile will attract more love and kindness than a frown. Thank God for Good People. 

And so the journey continues...wish me luck with my delayed arrival and visa-issue in Sri Lanka! 



Have you ever experienced the feeling "FUCK, I JUST GOTTA GET OUT OF HERE!!"?? Well that's how I felt about Nepal at 5:30 this morning. So when the woman behind the ticket counter here at Kathmandu International airport told me that I wasn't allowed to get on my flight, I just about curled up into a fetal position to cry until my mom came to recover me. My flight, which was already expensive, was from Kathmandu to Delhi, Delhi to Chennai, and Chennai to Colombo. Again, expensive and a long flight, but I was happy to pay it because I just wanted to be out of Nepal. Alas, the flight from Delhi to Chennai is domestic, so I was told that I needed an Indian transit visa to pass through (despite having an onward ticket to Sri Lanka). You think that they would tell you something like this on the websites when you're booking a ticket like this... So, in a frantic spur of events, I was lead into a back room at a full run to get onto the airports computer to try to book a ticket from Delhi International nonstop to Sri Lanka. I held back the tears, taking deep breaths- assuring myself that no matter what happened that it simply WASN'T a big deal. So what, I'd have to spend another night in Kathmandu? Wait a day or two for an Indian visa? And the thoughts that I was using to calm myself down were actually making me more upset. Anywhere else maybe I would go with the flow, but I have just been SO sad in Nepal- I needed to Get Out. So tears on the brink of overflowing and my stomach doing flips. Also, it wasn't until I tried my FOURTH airline site that I was finally able to find a ticket. Okay, take a deep breath, everything is okay, you'll make a bunch of money when you get home so stop stressing. Problem solved. Boom. Thank god for credit cards! And then...the immigration counter. I politely explained again and again that I didn't need a visa for India because *now* I will only be passing through the international airport, not the domestic. It was about 20 minutes of us going back and forth as I tried to remain calm, showing him my just-purchased-and-printed onward ticket and explained it slowly and clearly. Eventually I think that he just got tired and let me go. I'd like to say that from here on out its smooth sailing, but I'm betting a thousand bucks that my checked bag does not arrive in Sri Lanka (luckily I packed some clothes in my carryon, as I learned my lesson in the beginning of the trip when they lost my boardbag). Also, I was informed that I could get a Sri Lankan visa on arrival and figure out about how to get 2 months instead of one, and I have a feeling that it's not going to be that easy. Putting a positive spin on this:

"I am happy to be moving from Nepal to Sri Lanka. I am grateful for the lessons that I learned which will help me while traveling in the future. I am so excited that Sri Lanka will be receiving me with open arms, and a 2 month visa. I am bountiful and blissful." *and maybe I should add in "I'm sure that they will have extra sets in first class, and will offer me a seat with open arms (and free of charge)."

Wow, I just need to say that about a thousand more times and chant a few "Om Gung Ganapataye"s and I'll be golden. And now the tears have started. Like the shock and 'excitement' from this morning has worn off; I'm exhausted, I don't feel well, I miss my mom and dad, and I'm simply tired of being sad. Onward and upward, onward and upward. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Traveling On...

You know that you've been traveling (in asia) for a while when you can't remember your cell phone number, but you can easily rattle off your passport number along with the date you were issued it and its expiry date; when you don't need toilet paper to go to the bathroom or to blow your nose; when you know what month it is, and maybe even a vague idea of the date, but not the slightest clue as to what day of the week it is; and when a meal costs more than a buck you walk away talking about the nerve of the restaurant to charge so much!

Cailin Callahan

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


This is happening!!!! Nicole, Ari and I are teaching a 200hour training this don't want to miss this! Whether you want to be a teacher or just deepen your practice, we promise to deliver an amazing training!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Old Lady.

I've always been told that I was an old lady living in a young body. But this year my travel habits have definitely become a bit more 'old lady', erring on the side of quiet and comfort instead of indulging in the young, hip backpacker scene. So instead of paying 200-300 Nepali rupees ($3usd) a night for a dorm style room with a shared bathroom, I'm staying at the Little Tibetan Guest House, where my room is 650nrs a night (about $7). My room is huge, I have a big beautiful bathroom with hot water, I have a table and sitting room inside and outside (on my patio), and I even have a closet to hang my clothes. There is wifi, towels, and toilet paper. How luxurious! But my favorite of all is that it's set in the most beautiful fauna in a quiet courtyard, which reminds me of the "secret garden". And the youngest person that stays here, aside from me, is in their late 40s- with most of the guests in their 60s. Yep, this is my kind of place. I feel like a stubborn old grandma at the moment...coming from India, this scene is a bit of a culture shock. In India there is no meat, no alcohol, and certainly NO SHORTS OR TANK TOPS. There is also very little public display of affection, and it is a modest place in general. Arriving here was a rude re-introduction to the "west". Yesterday, the Hindu festival of Holi, and girls were walking around in short shorts and tank tops with their tatty's hanging out. I was in shock. People were roaming the streets with beers in their hands and "getting amongst it". Maybe if I hadn't just come from rishikesh then I would look a this is a different light. But I *did* come from Rishikesh, and this isn't my scene, so I found that yesterday I was really struggling. And I have felt the pressure to trek here, because I'm in the most beautiful trekking capital in the world, but really- I could give a shit about trekking! It's never about where I am, or what I'm doing- the importance is on who I'm sharing that with. And if I can't share the Himalayans with the people that I love, well- I think I'll pass. So, Nepal - it's just not my vibration right now. At another time it will be, but I found myself yesterday super anxious, sad and discontent...three emotions that I refuse to purchase and allow in my life. The solution: get the hell outta here. I've had a beautiful time, and now it's time to go. I'm going to do a short day hike, buy some Nepali goodies, and maybe even raft my way back to Kathmandu- but I'm Sri Lanka bound in the next week. My motto: "when in doubt, don't think about it, surf about it". I think my time in the water is log overdue. Namaste my friends! 

Little Tibetan Guest House

Calm amongst the chaos.

Monday, March 25, 2013


Obviously I have yet to find my rhythm. And I've discovered that the rhythm only comes once I've figured out my purpose. So: what's my purpose? This is the dilemma. In Sri Lanka it was "surf", in India it was "yoga". Everywhere there has been prayer, food, and community. But now I'm just not sure what the hell I'm doing, what I want to achieve or even internally what it is that needs some attention. What I do know is that Pokhara has it all: whether you want to party your face off, pray until the cows come home, or climb to the top of Mount Everest. So maybe instead of having a "plan" I just go with it and do a bit of everything. It'll be challenging because I find comfort in a routine, but maybe my routine will just have to be where I have my meals. After covering most of Lakeside, Pokhara on foot yesterday I have sussed out the restaurant situation. (I know that it seems crazy that this is my first move once I arrive in a town, but even though I love travel, I love family even more so this is my one "familiar" bit that makes me feel at home). I walked in and checked out the menu at a million places, but more than that I was feeling out the energy. I decided upon a little hole in the wall for most of my meals- it's run by a super sweet Nepali family, the menu is 1/4 the price of all the touristy places in town, there are terrible Hindi films blasting through the television and it's dancing that borderline between clean and dirty that I love. I also found a spot that charges 40rs for momos (that's ALL they sell), which is 100rs cheaper than what they charge in town and even 20rs cheaper than my cheap local place. And now I found my morning chai spot. It's right on the lake, and it found me as I was strolling through the rising sun. I (literally) bumped into the cutest little old round Nepali lady as I was walking along the path parallel the river. She had her sari on, her bindi, all her bangles, and she looked up to me with the largest, most delightful toothless smile, her eyes twinkling with a bit of magic. So we walked hand in hand, and I pretty much followed her into her home. Her son has a little restaurant on the lake so here I sit, sipping my chai. Mama (that's what we will call her for now) pleased me as she did the morning prayer- burning incense around me, mumbling a prayer, touching my head and then putting some orange and red powder in my hair and on my hairline. And so my adventures in Nepal begin...

Travel Day.

I ate a bunch of junky snacks on the long, cramped, dusty micro-bus ride to Pokhara, but now that I'm sitting lakeside sipping tea I feel like I'm where I should be. Tomorrow I'm going to really explore town, but for now I think I'll just decompress. Namaste.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Local Eats Love.

Local Eats Love. 

I don't eat at local places because they are super can get fancy meals for a small price here in Asia. But I love the local places because that's where you encounter the heart of a community. And it's where you can taste the flavor of the country for just a few rupees. Once I find my spot, I tend to stick to it...for breakfast, lunch and dinner. My whole approach to travel has changed really in this direction. In the past I thought that to see, experience and understand a country that I had to travel to every inch of it; to eat at many different restaurants, and to do do do. Now, I pick two places, eat at one restaurant and I just "be be be" instead of "do do do". So my trips now consist of lots of sitting and sipping tea, talking with locals, and just walking around one town instead of 10. I spend a lot less time on public transport, and a lot less time packing and unpacking my bag. It's only my third day now at Chhorten Restaurant, but already I'm getting familiar smiles and "namastes" from the locals who frequent this spot for their chai and rotis, and even the stern owner finally gave me a smile today. 

At Chhorten I have had the spring rolls, the momos (dumplings) thepthuk (deeeelicious fresh homemade noodles that are huge, served in a thick salty spicy broth with vegetables), noodles, Tibetan breakfast (2 roti, channa curry and Tibetan tea, which is made with buttermilk), and today I had the Nepali breakfast (scrambled egg, roti, channa curry and Nepali chai, which is just black tea with milk). Oh yeah, and I've had lots and lots and lots of tea here throughout the day. The total I've spent on all of these meals: about $10usd. 

If anyone is passing through Kathmandu I highly recommend this town, and especially this restaurant. It's entrance is directly across the street from the entrance to the Stupa. In the hours that I've spent here I have not seen one foreigner here, so it's about as authentic as it gets. Local Eats Love ❤

Be the Light.
Share the Light.
Shine the Light.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

More Prayer.

I enjoyed a comforting meal of red wine, pizza and Caesar salad on a rooftop with my momentary travel partner Lisa last night after puja. We both chatted about our personal experiences with the powerful prayer time. Early to bed and early to rise, as I joined the morning ritual of circling, chanting, prayer and puja. I fed the pigeons some corn and then took a Tibetan breakfast at my new local joint. I love being the only foreign amongst a flurry of locals, in a run down place that only serves a few items. One more day in Boudha, I need some more prayer time...

Inseparable Oneness.

After getting settled into my hotel I cruised around the Boudha Stupa. It was an emotional afternoon. There's definitely a different energy in the air, which I attribute to the magic of being surrounded by any mountains, but the majesty of the Himalayas is even greater. Then around 4pm it begins. The Nepalese walk around the circle, many times. Some chanting, some doing walking meditations, some are walking and texting, and others are walking hand in hand with their best friend as they gossip about the day (their free hand is holding their mala of course). People are spinning the prayer wheels, which are lined around the stupa. There are also a few large ones which range from being my height to being the size of a small car. They are a part of the meditation, at least that's how I understand. So you walk around, pushing them so they twirl, while chanting Om Mani Padme Hum (which is what's engraved onto them). I don't know if it's the twirling, the chanting, the incense (which is very woodsy and smells like my dad), or just the energy in the air....but it's moving. And so I walk in circles and cry and chant- and that has been all I've done since I've arrived; in the hours that the day moved into darkness, and then for a few hours this morning as the sun rose and the air was crisp. I noticed a heat last night and saw a room full of candles. I shyly made my way over and noticed that it was like a church where you'd light a candle. So I gave my donation to light a candle and on the way in I saw the prayer. The f*ing prayer. So after finally getting a handle over my tears, I began to read...and they began again. In Asia the parents are the highest thing next to Buddha himself. So I lit candles for my mom and this life and in all their future lives may they be able to experience the pure and perfect inseparable oneness. God Bless. 

A Light Offering Prayer By Glorious Atisha Dipamkapa:


May the lamp be equal as vast as the entire billion fold universe.

May the stem(trunk) of the lamp be equal to the King of Mountains Mount .

May the butter be equal to the infinite Ocean.

(Regarding quantity) may there be billions of trillions of lamps in the presence of each and every Buddha.

May the light illuminate the darkness of ignorance of all the sentient beings from the peak of samsara down to the most tortuous hell, whereby they can see directly & clearly all the Buddhas & bodhisattvas of ten directions & their pure lands.


EH MA HO, wonderful, marvelous butter lamps. (1 offer these) beautifully exulted clear and luminous lights to the thousands Buddhas of the fortunate on, to all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the infinite pure lands of the ten directions and to all the gurus, deities, dakas, Dakinis, dharma protectors and the assembly of deities of the mandalas.

(Due to the prayer) may my parents and all the sentient beings in this life and in all their future lives, be able to see directly the actual pure lands of the complete and perfect Buddhas and unify with Amitaba Buddha in inseparable oneness.

Due to the power of the truth of the Triple Gem and the assembly of deities of the three roots.

Please bless and may the prayer be swiftly accomplished.

Om Mani Padme Hum

Om Mani Padme Hum

This is something that I've been chanting since I've arrived. And even without knowing the specific breakdown of meaning of the pose, I chanted it anyways- because chanting it changed the whole vibration in my body. After just a minute of chanting it- whether out loud or mentally, tears would start coming down my face. Now that I've done my research, I realize how and why it's been so moving....

OM : 
Helps to overcome: Pride, Ego

MA :
Helps to overcome: Jealousy

NI :
Helps to overcome: Passion, Desire

PAD : 
Helps to overcome: Ignorance, Prejudice

ME :
Helps to overcome: Poverty, Possessiveness 

Helps to overcome: Agression, Hatred

"It is very good to recite the mantra Om mani padme hum, but while you are doing it, you should be thinking on its meaning, for the meaning of the six syllables is great and vast... The first, Om [...] symbolizes the practitioner's impure body, speech, and mind; it also symbolizes the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of a Buddha[...]"
"The path is indicated by the next four syllables. Mani, meaning jewel, symbolizes the factors of method: (the) altruistic intention to become enlightened, compassion, and love.[...]"
"The two syllables, padme, meaning lotus, symbolize wisdom[...]"
"Purity must be achieved by an indivisible unity of method and wisdom, symbolized by the final syllable hum, which indicates indivisibility[...]"
"Thus the six syllables, om mani padme hum, mean that in dependence on the practice of a path which is an indivisible union of method and wisdom, you can transform your impure body, speech, and mind into the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of a Buddha[...]"

Thoughts to be had whilst chanting:

Being and non-beings proliferate loving compassion and indivisible intelligent equanimity; Om Mani Padme Hum.

That is the natural ubiquitous pervasive force of consciousness. These frequencies are in the Sanskrit tongue, act as a harmonic sound resonance against blocking energy, or sleeping energy. 

Mountain Time.

Ironic moment: as we are flying into Kathmandu, I'm craning my neck to get a glimpse out the window (im the aisle seat) at the magical Himalayas and the woman who is in the window seat is blind. I don't think it mattered though, because being in their presence is actually a tangible thing, you can feel them. 

Aside from knowing that there's lots of hiking, I know absolutely nothing about Nepal. This thought hit me this morning as I was half asleep, waiting to collect my bag at the carousel. I had no plan, no ambition, and (momentarily) no energy. So, I saw a woman that looked like she'd be nice and I asked her where SHE was going. She mentioned a town that I've never heard of, but I just got a good vibe off her, so I asked if she wouldn't mind if I tagged along. And so, here I am, in Boudha. There's a gorgeous stupa here and some cute cafes and shops. Currently my thought is that I'm moving on tomorrow, 6 hours northwest to Pokhara. Boudha is nice, but there's no water around here- and I realize that this is throwing my whole vibration off. In Sri Lanka I was surfing everyday, in Goa there was the Arabian Sea, in Rishikesh I had the Ganga and now....cement, and not the best view of the Himalayas. So, Pokhara is a town built around a picturesque lake, which reflects the Himalayas that are reaching into the clouds. I'm feeling a bit restless after being sick for those few days, so I'm looking forward to getting back to my regular self practice and taking some classes. I might try my hand at Ayurvedic massage. We'll see how it goes. I also might be up for one of the shorter treks. For now, I'm delirious- typing this with eyes half closed as I sip some fresh lemongrass tea. Badabing, I'm in Nepal and life is good. 


I swam and sunned, and then when I asked about the sauna I was also handed a spa menu...
I spent a full hour going from the complimentary sauna to eucalyptus steam room, to hot tub to cold plunge. I moisturized and scrubbed, and scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed. I got a magnificent 90 minute deep tissue massage and a 60minute pedicure-- I am now a full inch shorter as she took off that much dirt and dead skin from the bottom of my feet.

After cleaning myself up, I threw on a skirt and headed down to listen to the live music and relax. Well, don't quote me and don't judge me, but I think I'm off meat and booze. When I settled into my chair at the lounge, I sipped a dirty martini and I didn't enjoy it AT ALL, i actually didnt even finish it. Then I was asked to dinner by two elder British gentleman, international exporters, to Thai supper. We had the chefs menu, which was a bit of everything- all of it perfectly executed and totally delicious. The prawns were the size of lobsters- and I ate everyone's share. These men eat like this regularly and had no problem leaving food on the plates- but this was a treat for me, so I ate my fair share, and then theirs as well! We had two bottles of wine amongst the three of us- and I sipped mine at half the pace they were consuming theirs. After one glass I was quite content and actually ready for bed, but I didn't want to be rude to my hosts who were being super generous, so I slowly sipped a second glass. Many of the dishes had some form of meat- and though I tried them, I didn't enjoy them so much- and instead opted for the veggie dishes. I didn't make it to bed until nearly 1am, asleep by 2:30am, and up at 4:30am for checkout and coffee and then I hopped into my 'personal car' to the airport. I felt like shit this morning, which I'm sure could be partly because of 6 hours sleep in two nights and a long travel day- but physically I feel it's from the meat and alcohol. I have been a "clean vessel", and I do not like how either of these things made me feel. I also have had a few coffees lately and I don't like the way that they make me feel either. So when I get home, vegan (ive discovered that cheese does NOT make me feel good....sad discovery, i was in denial for a bit...) and fresh seafood, *limited* coffee consumption and wine on the regular- but only a glass. And that's what I gotta say about that.

Cailin Callahan

Friday, March 22, 2013

Whoa! Whitewater Rafting!

Whoa! I just realize that I never posted about white water rafting with my posse on the Ganga!!! It was amazing! And scary!!! And beautiful!! My first time and certainly not my last. Big props to our amazing (and patient!) guide.