Time at home, visiting family and friends was pretty great! It was nice to spend time with loved ones and enjoy some of the luxuries of the American lifestyle.
Choosing Thailand to write the book about my yearlong Ayurvedic-Yogic lifestyle experience at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat in the Bahamas was another unexpected and bold leap for me. I've not had any inclination to visit Thailand in the past, and yet so many signs pointed me in that direction when I neared the end of my year in the Bahamas.
I again leaped into an adventure that I would never have dreamed of taking - at 62, as a single woman in a foreign country so far from home.
Traveling this past week from Chicago to Abu Dhabi to Bangkok to Chiangmai proved challenging, interesting and doable. In total, I spent more than 40 hours traveling and nearly 22 hours of flying time. Admittedly, it was a long trip - But I did it!
I met such interesting people on each leg of the journey. A young woman sat near me on my first flight. She is from Pakistan, grew up in Abu Dhabi, and is newly married to an American, living in St Louis. She was on her way home to visit family and attend a wedding.
A friendly and kind, 27 year old man from Saudi Arabia sat next to me on the flight. He is an engineering student in Kansas currently and was on his way to visit family going through Abu Dhabi. He really liked living and traveling in America. The three of us kept each other company and made the trip as pleasant as possible.
We had such fascinating conversation, and I felt blessed to have met such nice people to share the 13 hour flight. Speaking of the flight, Etihad airlines is an excellent carrier, with good food served throughout the flight, lots of movie selections, wifi available, very attentive and efficient staff and a smooth flight. I'd choose to fly them again.
One thing I discovered about myself, reading or computer work were not happening on such a long flight. I had big plans of getting some things done, but with limited space, less than optimal lighting and generally feeling tired throughout most of the trip, movies, talking and sleeping were what I could manage.
Abu Dhabi was quite surprising to me. The airport is not large, but it is extremely clean, modern and quiet - actually felt peaceful. People weren't looking perplexed and lost, running to and fro, as I'm used to seeing and experiencing myself at most airports.
I took a 2 hour taxi ride to tour around the city. I was exhausted from the flight; it was 97 degrees outside; and I had an 11 hour layover. I wanted to see the sites though, and I'm so glad that I did. It is a beautiful city! Gorgeous architecture and a colorful cityscape that had me oooooohing and ahhhhhing as I snapped pictures of mosques and buildings and the waterfront.
My taxi driver was so nice, and he tried to be in the closest lane of the highway whenever possible for my photos. Interestingly, he is a man from Kerala, India who had been in Abu Dhabi for a relatively short time. Yet, he pointed out sites and seemed to thoroughly enjoy my delight at the tour.
I was ready to go back to the airport and maybe even sleep a bit, as I was 'hardly keep my eyes open' tired, since it was about 4 am back home, and I'd only slept about 4 hours on the plane.
Some good past karma provided a woman, sitting on these nice green cushiony chairs, with her feet propped up on her suitcase who looked really comfy. I got tea and a muffin and sat near her, following her lead by putting my feet atop my suitcase. I asked her if she had a long layover, and that question would turn into an 8 hour friendship.
Isabelle is a Bosnian woman, living in Australia. She traveled to Sarajevo to visit her mom and family. Her total travel time was more than 50 hours, and she had a 15 hour layover. Wow! She made my travel situation seem much easier:)
We hit it off right away, and neither of us ever ended up sleeping, but chatted until her check-in time for a 10pm flight. She had a really cool hairstyle - cute cut and her highlights were varied, with some of them having violet colored tips. It was subtle and yet, vibrant and eye catching.
Once the sun went down, we spent hours outside, sitting and watching the people coming and going at the airport. The breeze was lovely, and the temperature was quite pleasant - amazing how it cooled down so much, so quickly.
I felt good about helping Isabelle by teaching her abdominal breathing to calm down her nervousness about her travel and relieve the tightness she was feeling in her chest. She said the abdominal breathing helped:)
My next flight was much shorter, not quite 7 hours. I sat by a nice Italian business man. He works for a petrol and chemical company and travels to the East regularly. His wife and 3 children preferred to not make the long journey, but they are willing to relocate to the East if his job provides that opportunity.
He was also quite interesting and very nice to chat with. He reminded me of my son, as he struggled with having enough room with his long legs.
Arrival in Thailand brought more typical noise and confusion at both of the airports.
Bangkok Airways does provide a nice waiting room with light refreshments for all its passengers - a nice treat! And for an hour and 15 minute flight, they served a meal. I was so surprised at their efficiency, both serving and cleaning up. We finished eating with only 10 minutes to go until touchdown - was an easy and good flight.
My legs and ankles had swelling from the travel, and the rest of my body was ready for some good horizontal sleep and some yoga, but all in all, I fared pretty well.
God provided safety and wonderful people for the 3 days of travel, and I feel very grateful.
Stay tuned for impressions of Thailand as the journey continues.
Sending You Love from Chiangmai, Thailand.
Thank you for taking this journey with me!
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