Janu in Manila

Many times, I had thought and wondered when I would at last get the opportunity to visit the Philippines. A large and important country, most especially for the US, that sits so near to the rest of Southern Asia that I have come to know and love.
And so we arrived, greeted by our wonderful hosts, and shuttled off to our cozy apartment in the sky, overlooking downtown Manila.  This city had the sprawl of Jakarta, but with brand new skyscrapers being built with stunning alacrity, I was reminded of the only and last time I’d seen such feverish mega-construction in Beijing back in 200

view from our windowOur hosts were overachievers, and quite fell over themselves to make sure we experienced all that Manila had to offer.  We were shown around the downtown area where we were staying, as well as taken to Old Manila, which had been recently reclaimed as a heritage and tourist destination.  We decided to go for a tour of the area, ostensibly the center of the Spanish colonialists, who ruled the Philippines for over 300 years.  The mantle was then taken on by the US for a time, and shortly by the Japanese.  You can see the influence of Hispanic culture throughout, and in fact, it rather reminded me of a mesh of Mexico and Bangkok…


They were so excited to share with us the full tapestry of Filipino tastes available, and we did partake in sampling the veritable smorgasbord of tastes, including probably my person favorite, if just for it’s weird-factor: Halo-Halo.  This interesting-looking desert consists of  a blend of fruits, sweet preserves, evaporated milk, and shaved ice, and frequently topped with a scoop of ice cream. The name literally means “Mix-Mix.”

And this seemed rather apropos considering the variety of cultures and peoples that have mixed up on these shores.  Manila feels, in a way, so very cosmopolitan and modern just due to this world mix of ingredients that are openly intermingled and, at least it would seem, tolerated.

 Teaching here was a blast, as the students were generally quite experienced, open, cool.  They were serious and dug what we had to offer.  There were even some rather avid Sadie-fans who showed up.  This included a woman and her beautiful daughter, who’d created probably one of the coolest things I’ve seen yet in our travels: the Sadie doll.  Forreal!  It was the spitting image, a tiny, cute Sadie replete with red milkmaid hair and her signature black yoga gear.  We decided to add a star tattoo on her wrist, to really compete the likeness ;)

Sadie Doll!


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On to Jakarta.
Flying in we were greeted with a phenomenal site: lines of barges, ships, tankers, and mega-tankers, like christmas lights, stretched out into the ocean as far as the eye could see; presumably all waiting their turn to enter or leave this booming megalopolis. Though ostensibly only the eighth largest city in Asia, I stood in awe of its expanse (both solid and smoggish).

On the ride from airport to our hotel, I was reminded of Bangkok with its steaming mix of jungle and shantytowns, punctuated by arching, brand-new Chinese-style skyscrapers screeching up in the timeless quest to erect the tallest Viagra wonder; all splattered with a liberal dose of Dubai’s mega-advertising that turns buildings into billboards…

Our hotel was an odd mash up of disparate Lego pieces crammed in the middle of the nebulous urban everywhere. Sadie and my first stop: the English/Irish pub nestled into the lobby.

The hotel turned out to be quite nice, especially the pool, with its cool seclusion and picturesque palms, recalling a bygone era of luxury travel.

Outside was another matter: tiny, dirty streets that had apparently been choked to two-lane threads due to the expansion of the secure, secluded private developments of the ‘haves’. For us and the rest of the ‘have-nots’, this meant a frustratingly slow, hot, noxious 20 minute journey each day back-and-forth between the hotel and our workshop space, about 3/4ths of a mile distance.

The workshop space shared it’s grounds with a travel agent – and rather resembled a YMCA aerobics room from the mid-1980s.
The students were all lovely and delightful… But with little knowledge or experience with yoga, many of them seemed satisfied with the opportunity to be close to a ‘famous American icon’, And took the opportunity to obtain as many photographs and autographs on as many things as they could.
Although we were there so shortly, Sadie and I had the chance to explore a bit in the up-and-coming section we found ourselves.
I was quite fascinated by the interest and avid, yet somewhat sweetly naive absorption of Western entertainments in this staunchly Muslim conservative capital.
For example, the newfound ‘joie de vivre’ of their honeymoon period with alcohol was apparent all over, but nowhere so much as Alcoholics Kitchen and Bar – “The only place you can eat alcohol” – aka ‘beer-can chicken’ et al.

We ate at one of the best establishments in town, which was quite nice, high class, great food.
I just couldn’t have foreseen the extras that came with.
While Sadie and I were savoring our meals, I glanced to my right to see us reflected in some antique wall mirrors on the other side of the room. And something else. Rapidly descending the wall which I saw reflected behind me, was a large brown creature, I figured to be a medium-sized rat. Seeing this, I felt more bemused than scared – that even one of the best restaurants in town couldn’t keep the jungle at bay – and was thinking to myself how to whimsically express this to Sadie- When the furry visitor took a flying leap landing *splat* on my back, before leaping back off to scuttle to safety.
All Sadie noticed was my ‘YELP’ with a look of aghast surprise, and she assumed I was shocked by a tiny tuft of brown hair, a gift left by our visitor, floating in front of my face.
We informed the restaurant staff of the incident, thinking in this day of instant media they would certainly offer us a free meal, to avoid any wrath– but instead, we got free ice cream!


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Melbourne to Rock!

On to glorious Melbourne! Always had heard such phenomenal things about this city, and I’d say it effectively exceeded expectations. Though only there a few days, I think we got a good taste of it.
Our hosts graciously put us up in a beautiful apartment overlooking the Melbourne skyline.

We were walking distance from the Australian Yoga Academy, where we were to workshop, in the hip Prahran area of town.
I enjoyed walking around Chapel st, exploring the quirky/cool shops and cafes. And the workshops were just amazing. The students and teachers who showed up were experienced, knowledgable, and über-excited to learn! We had such an amazing experience with all involved, we have already planned a return trip there next spring to do a training.
And I do certainly look forward to having a bit more time to explore and enjoy what the city has to offer.


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Sydney, Australia

We flew back to Sydney for our second grouping of workshops. The fact that it seemed strikingly similar to America was not helped by the fact that we were picked up at the airport by 2 American girls! Ananda, the owner, had been at a workshop with me in Austin a few months prior; and Vanessa – was in fact from Texas!
They took us straight to our gorgeous apartment in Woolamaloo. The views were stunning- overlooking a large park, downtown and the opera house and bay.


Our workshops were walking distance, in a really cool area, and a nice new studio called Preshana. Students were hella keen and sweet.
And Sydney- such a happening city, huh? Walking distance from us were a clutch of uber-cool, tiny restaurants, bars and cafes; some breathtakingly hip. One that pops to mind is Owl House- some of the coolest, most delicious and thoughtful tapas-esque treats I’ve ever tasted.


To my estimation, the city- so clean, modern, hip- kinda reminded me of a mash-up of 3 cities (Mas o menos):
60% LA;
28% NYC;
& 18% BsAs
- Buenos Aires, that is :). The first 2, of course, due to the overarching hipness, fashion-consciousness, and air of naughtiness; the last, from the wide oak and bush-lined sidewalks that abound in the back streets…


On our last night, we went out on the town with Vanessa for a little fun. She took us to a beautiful Chinese restaurant/bar called Ms.G’s. There some wildness hijinks occurred~ dancing, shot-taking and paddling, to name a few- until we were politely asked to leave the premises ;)


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Australia and on..

Begun our yoga’adventure tour, we landed on the 6th continent after a relatively painless 14 hour shot from New Orleans, to then jump up to Coff’s Harbour, a beautiful, pristine town an hour north of Sydney.  Our gracious and wonderful host, Suzanne, had put us up in an airy apartment that directly overlooked the Harbour.



A few days had been luckily set for us to recover from ze jet lag. And in such a gorgeous location, we recovered quickly, with daily visits to Old John’s, a newish and totally fabtabulously artist and stylish cafe a few minutes walk from our apartment. Almost every morning we would start our day with one of their delicious latte’s and, perhaps, the world’s most mouth-watering, bowel-quiveringly delicious scrambled eggs. Simply, fresh eggs with feta, cream, truffle oil, chives, on a toasted olive bread. It was worth the trip alone.



But yes, we did teach, and how. . such great workshops at Hara Beyond Movement studio, and our lovely host Susanne. The students were wonderfully receptive and solicitous. The wonderful amount of time we’d scheduled allowed us even to have a day of respite and adventure, where we were taken up into the highlands for a little jungle-trekking, Wallaby sighting, dancing with Emu’s on Olivia Newton John’s farm, and ‘Roo hunting! (just with our cameras – though I was very keen to try their meat… what?) We ended up running across a(rather large)  mother and Joey in someone’s yard in the suburbs!


All in all it was such a delightful and relaxing way to begin our trip.. Suzanne and Rob were just fantastic hosts, and it was really a pleasure to get to know them.  To wrap it all up, I decided to try my hand at surfing, for the second time in my life, the last day we were there… Rob picked me up early in the morning, and we headed out to the beach.  In the waves like liquid crystal, I floated and watched the sun rise and other surfers around us.  We talked about life, politics, and women, and I, amazingly enough, managed to catch a few waves!

The beauty and clarity of this place has left me wanting to go and spend a little creative, surf-oriented time there.  Next time we well might :)

out for a run to the Coff's Harbour Jetty

out for a run to the Coff’s Harbour Jetty

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Hello everybody!

Welcome to my new blog.  Keep checking back to learn about all my global yoga adventures.


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