Yes! I made it in time to see the beauty of this past winters craze. In India I only seen FB posts of how much this winter sucked in NY, but I secretly admired and wanted to come. The winter is over it's a meltdown, the snow is dripping down, the ice is cracking and the fog is raising. 

I am alone in silence and the beauty of this snow-white is making me say — I've missed this place.

Here are few shots to bring you here with me.











Yes! I made it in time to see the beauty of this past winters craze. In India I only seen FB posts of how much this winter sucked in NY, but I secretly admired and wanted to come. The winter is over it's a meltdown, the snow is dripping down, the ice is cracking and the fog is raising. 

I am alone in silence and the beauty of this snow-white is making me say — I've missed this place.

Here are few shots to bring you here with me.













I am two hours away from landing in Budapest, and I am super excited. Six months in India can be life changing, but quite demanding. I am ready for a strong shot of civilization. What exactly does that mean? I want to stand online without someone cutting me off, I want to have fresh salad, I want to go running, I want to walk down the street in privacy, I want to take a hot shower, I want to drink water from the tap, I want my kitchen. I don’t want a bindi on my forehead,  I don’t want to bargain for food, I don’t want to wake up to the smell of burning plastic, I don’t want to hear dogs barking all night, I don’t want to hear Indians forcefully clearing their throat, I don’t want a mouse eating my food, and I certainly don’t want any more ants chewing on my panties.

- India, for now I must leave, but don’t worry in October I plan to come back.

There is something about this place that makes people return, including myself. I traveled to 38 countries, yet India is the one that I gravitate towards the most. This time was my third time and who knows how many more times I will return.

One of my friends, who’s never been to India, can not believe that I would even want to go there in the first place. - The poverty, the people, the smell, the food, the hygiene - he kept the negative list rolling out of all the things he picked up from TV and the net.

Yes, it’s hard to believe, but how can you believe if you’ve never been?

To enjoy India you have to give it a chance, minimum one month or more. If it’s only two weeks you will most likely hate it. If you give yourself a couple of weeks for the hectic to become the norm, only then the inner bliss of India will shine through.

I can’t answer my friend why I keep returning. Amongst all the craze I find peace, a peace which allows me to go deeper in and connect with my being. Somehow India provides a perfect environment to slow down and reconnect with the self. Time is not an issue, daily routines don’t really exist, and the facilities for yoga, meditation and other spiritual activities are simply incomparable to the western money making establishments. Ok, maybe they are not so clean, and not so fancy looking but that’s all part of it, to find peace and depth within, you don’t need to look out.

India has the roads to spiritual awakening. It’s where a new journey for me began, where I realized that I am not my thoughts, I am not my body and not a long list of things I thought I was.. It’s here where God became so clear to me, and now I believe. How can I hate this place? Why wouldn’t I want to come back?

During my second time visiting India, I was walking to Mooji’s satsangs and it became so clear to me why India rocks. A rickshaw driver was driving on the ghats near the river Ganges, mid aged women were doing laundry in the water, visitors were doing a puja in the soapy water, a dog was eating dead goats’ corpses on the banks of the river and little kids were insisting that I buy flowers, all happening in the same time and place. There were no rules, no fines, simply survival and daily chores. It was then that I realized that in India you can be free, there is only one rule, the rule of nature, and no one else is there to tell you how to walk, when to walk and how much you should pay to walk. It’s the subtle freedom in the “unfree” India that makes it one of a kind. But there are many more things that makes India awesome, you simply need to be open and try to see things from a different perspective. Coming from a society with strict rules, where the grass is green and the social order is automatic, one can very easily learn to hate India. This is why you need time.

Aside from spirituality, the colors, the festive mentality and the wobbling head gestures are a must see. India will break you, teach you, scalp you and then most likely fix you. Don’t be afraid, don’t listen to the media, use your instinct and experience it for yourself. It can only be magic if you believe. There will be hate, there will be love but it’s the perfect balance to it all.

As I write this, I recall my first post Holy Cow Wow, when I first arrived to India and wow, there is definitely a change.



I am two hours away from landing in Budapest, and I am super excited. Six months in India can be life changing, but quite demanding. I am ready for a strong shot of civilization. What exactly does that mean? I want to stand online without someone cutting me off, I want to have fresh salad, I want to go running, I want to walk down the street in privacy, I want to take a hot shower, I want to drink water from the tap, I want my kitchen. I don’t want a bindi on my forehead,  I don’t want to bargain for food, I don’t want to wake up to the smell of burning plastic, I don’t want to hear dogs barking all night, I don’t want to hear Indians forcefully clearing their throat, I don’t want a mouse eating my food, and I certainly don’t want any more ants chewing on my panties.

- India, for now I must leave, but don’t worry in October I plan to come back.

There is something about this place that makes people return, including myself. I traveled to 38 countries, yet India is the one that I gravitate towards the most. This time was my third time and who knows how many more times I will return.

One of my friends, who’s never been to India, can not believe that I would even want to go there in the first place. - The poverty, the people, the smell, the food, the hygiene - he kept the negative list rolling out of all the things he picked up from TV and the net.

Yes, it’s hard to believe, but how can you believe if you’ve never been?

To enjoy India you have to give it a chance, minimum one month or more. If it’s only two weeks you will most likely hate it. If you give yourself a couple of weeks for the hectic to become the norm, only then the inner bliss of India will shine through.

I can’t answer my friend why I keep returning. Amongst all the craze I find peace, a peace which allows me to go deeper in and connect with my being. Somehow India provides a perfect environment to slow down and reconnect with the self. Time is not an issue, daily routines don’t really exist, and the facilities for yoga, meditation and other spiritual activities are simply incomparable to the western money making establishments. Ok, maybe they are not so clean, and not so fancy looking but that’s all part of it, to find peace and depth within, you don’t need to look out.

India has the roads to spiritual awakening. It’s where a new journey for me began, where I realized that I am not my thoughts, I am not my body and not a long list of things I thought I was.. It’s here where God became so clear to me, and now I believe. How can I hate this place? Why wouldn’t I want to come back?

During my second time visiting India, I was walking to Mooji’s satsangs and it became so clear to me why India rocks. A rickshaw driver was driving on the ghats near the river Ganges, mid aged women were doing laundry in the water, visitors were doing a puja in the soapy water, a dog was eating dead goats’ corpses on the banks of the river and little kids were insisting that I buy flowers, all happening in the same time and place. There were no rules, no fines, simply survival and daily chores. It was then that I realized that in India you can be free, there is only one rule, the rule of nature, and no one else is there to tell you how to walk, when to walk and how much you should pay to walk. It’s the subtle freedom in the “unfree” India that makes it one of a kind. But there are many more things that makes India awesome, you simply need to be open and try to see things from a different perspective. Coming from a society with strict rules, where the grass is green and the social order is automatic, one can very easily learn to hate India. This is why you need time.

Aside from spirituality, the colors, the festive mentality and the wobbling head gestures are a must see. India will break you, teach you, scalp you and then most likely fix you. Don’t be afraid, don’t listen to the media, use your instinct and experience it for yourself. It can only be magic if you believe. There will be hate, there will be love but it’s the perfect balance to it all.

As I write this, I recall my first post Holy Cow Wow, when I first arrived to India and wow, there is definitely a change.

Budapest, home away from home, where Toddies reunited and spent few sunny days, riding, laughing, dancing, and gasping what they have missed since their last meeting in Dublin. Check out a short video, Iza's creation, of few shots during out 2nd reunion. And if you like continue to Toddies fun facts about Budapest

Budapest, home away from home, where Toddies reunited and spent few sunny days, riding, laughing, dancing, and gasping what they have missed since their last meeting in Dublin. Check out a short video, Iza's creation, of few shots during out 2nd reunion. And if you like continue to Toddies fun facts about Budapest

Every late afternoon in Arambol Beach, Goa, a unique collection of the most interesting people gather to enjoy the sunset and dance to the improvising drummers. This is the place where hippies mingle, sing, dance and love.

The drumming circle gatherings were my favourite time in Goa. Most of the clips in the video were taken while sitting on the beach waiting for the sun to fade and complete the day.

Additional to the music, artist and creative people. There are many western vendors selling energy balls, strong coffee and hand made jewellery, along with occasional tarot card readers.

Wish you were there.


Every late afternoon in Arambol Beach, Goa, a unique collection of the most interesting people gather to enjoy the sunset and dance to the improvising drummers. This is the place where hippies mingle, sing, dance and love.

The drumming circle gatherings were my favourite time in Goa. Most of the clips in the video were taken while sitting on the beach waiting for the sun to fade and complete the day.

Additional to the music, artist and creative people. There are many western vendors selling energy balls, strong coffee and hand made jewellery, along with occasional tarot card readers.

Wish you were there.


Since I have been back to India, Rishikesh seems to be always the first place I visit. It's here were my spiritual path began and it's here where I feel home away from home. Rishikesh is considered the yoga capital of the world, many knowledgeable yogis reside here and share their knowledge. It's a place one should definitely visit when coming to India. If it's not for yoga or other spirituality then one can come for its beauty, its energy, the Ganga, and the singing hippies on the ghats. Best time to visit is October to April. See you there, but if you don't have the time, check out the video for a sneak preview of Holy Rishikesh in 2 minutes. Feel free to share. Thanks to all the people and scenery for making the video.


Since I have been back to India, Rishikesh seems to be always the first place I visit. It's here were my spiritual path began and it's here where I feel home away from home. Rishikesh is considered the yoga capital of the world, many knowledgeable yogis reside here and share their knowledge. It's a place one should definitely visit when coming to India. If it's not for yoga or other spirituality then one can come for its beauty, its energy, the Ganga, and the singing hippies on the ghats. Best time to visit is October to April. See you there, but if you don't have the time, check out the video for a sneak preview of Holy Rishikesh in 2 minutes. Feel free to share. Thanks to all the people and scenery for making the video.



The sun is shinning, birds are chirping, crows are crowing, bells are ringing, bees are pollinating and I, Aga, am crying.

Noble silence is active in Dhamma Giri’s main Pagoda, I am sitting still in the second row, surrounded by 150 indian women of all ages. A 70 year old woman from Tamil Nadu is sitting to my left and a young college girl is sitting to my right. I can’t help myself, tears are rolling down and I don’t even know why. Are all my suffering, sorrows are clearing out? Or did I just realise that I have no control over my mind’s reactions. 

My conditioned mind has been living my life for me. Embedded childhood traumas and conditions created who I identify as I, Aga. I get angry, I avert, I am happy, I crave. All life I have been living in the past or future, craving or averting. Without realising how much misery it has created over the years. As Goenka* says, deep sankharas, the imprints of experiences that form the habit patterns of the mind.

I am a happy kid, I would say. I never felt any need for improvements in my life, according to my mind I never suffer, I am not miserable. Perhaps because my mind has lead me on. It wants to feel pleasant sensations always and forever. 

So why am I crying? What is crying? Is it because I am training my mind to cooperate and instead? Its a toggle war.

I operate by using my senses, we have 5 or 6 senses depending what book you read. The eyes that see, the ears that hear, the nose that smells, touch that feels, the tongue that tastes and maybe I am missing one more there, but you get the gist. Using my senses is how my mind connects the dots of what’s happening and my unconscious reacts with craving or aversion. 

A double dutch chocolate  cake will make me crave. A piercing sound would make me avert, the pleasant smell of jasmine flowers will make…. and the list goes on. This is how my mind differentiates between what I normally call good or bad. My mind’s reactions to these sensations sculpt who I think I am. But what if there was no good or bad? What if the feeling of love and pain was the same? What if the smell of jasmine flowers or dog shit was the same. How would my mind operate then. Who would I be? Will I float in the universe without any opinion? Would I live a hippie life and feed on berries? Or perhaps, I might just be liberated from creating a fiction world that I project onto others. 

You ever smelled someone’s perfume and wondered why in the world they sprayed this stuff on? - Oh lady, you need to wash yourself, this perfume smells straight up like an ass crack! - meanwhile she is feeling like a million dollars.

But in reality, the smell whether pleasant or foul is just a smell. The taste whether delicious or disgusting is just a taste. What about the color pink? How does it make you feel. Take notice, not to the reaction, but feel the subtle sensations that your senses create. 

It’s all the same.

The first thing that David, my boyfriend said when he came out of his second Vipassana retreat - The feeling of pleasure and pain is the same, it’s all made of the same material.

- When my 10 year relationship ended with my ex, I was laying in bed and felt this feeling, the very same feeling that I felt when I fell in love. It was then that I realised, that the two sensations had no difference. - Said Nina a 15 year Vipassana meditator, who I met in India.  

A young girl gets raped, this deep sankhara is embedded in her for life. She has managed all her life to cope with this sensation and this reflects in all her actions. She might never want to have sex again, or she might be the highest paid porn star in Hollywood, or there might be a completely unrelated action, which is how her mind coped with the rape, and she keeps repeating it. It is her deep sankhara, that is directing her actions.

- I am never upset for the reasons I think I am. - Said Eckhart Tolle

So why are addicts addicts? What made my mother smoke for most of her life, knowing that this is slowly killing her. Tobacco, alcohol, drugs all put you in a certain state, to which your mind associates the feeling of pleasure, and you crave for more. Or the opposite, you had a bad experience and you will avert.

I am crying because my mind is going though a deep surgical operation, and it simply does not like it. I am training my mind not to react to pleasant or painful sensations and to remain equanimous. I am sitting for an hour without movement with pain in my knee, which is a gross sensation, I ignore my feeling of aversion. I simply acknowledge the present moment and observe as the sensation dissolves. This is how all things happen. Anicca, anicca, anicaa. Change, change, change. All things change and never remain the same. All feelings or sensations, they all change. So if I remain equanimous, I will not create new sankharas and the old ones will surface and dissolve.

The first step is to realise that craving and aversion is all derived from your five - or six - senses, which your mind categorises into good and bad. Second step is to be aware of the current sensations they create, and third step is to be equanimous and not react to them. These three steps will guide you to liberation and a happy hippie life. 

Vipassana is a ten day silent meditation where you meditate for ten hours a day. Your mind, the wild beast, goes under a deep surgical operation. Goenkaji guides you each day deeper into a technique that digs into your mind and its habit patterns. It’s a technique which will make you aware what makes you tick and react. The main difference between Vipassana and other meditation techniques, is that it not only calms your mind to stillness, but it also makes deep stuff resurface and with time, dissolve. 

It’s one of the hardest things I have done in my life and one of the most rewarding experiences on this journey. In the ten days I learned a technique which trains my mind not to react with craving or aversion that leads to my unconscious misery. I did not become liberated from all my sufferings, I am not yet enlightened and I might not be in this life time. I have learned a golden tool invented by the Buddha, passed down through generations from teacher to teacher. With practice and patience day-by-day, I am closer to step out of the wheel of suffering.

Perhaps I will not look for imperfections or perfections and accept beings and things for what they are. Perhaps the smell of flowers or sewers will just bring me to recognise my presence. Perhaps all sounds will create music in my ears and perhaps a touch will bring me to the present moment. Because reality is, you and I only live in this present moment.

As I sit and observe my body sensations my tears have stopped, and a feeling of vibration has taken over my body, yet another sensation has arisen. I feel light. Anicca, anicca, anicca.

May all beings be happy, be peaceful, be liberated.– Goenka 

Sign up for Vipassna Meditation! Become Liberated.

Individual meditation cells

View from my residency

Pogoda

Goenka's residency

This is one of the biggest centres in India, where Goenka spent most of his time.

=======================================================================

*Mr. S.N. Goenka- is a teacher of Vipassana meditation in the tradition of the late Sayagyi U Ba Khin of Burma (Myanmar).

Although Indian by descent, Mr. Goenka was born and raised in Burma. While living in Burma he had the good fortune to come into contact with U Ba Khin, and to learn the technique of Vipassana from him. After receiving training from his teacher for fourteen years, Mr. Goenka settled in India and began teaching Vipassana in 1969. In a country still sharply divided by differences of caste and religion, the courses offered by Mr. Goenka have attracted thousands of people from every part of society. In addition, many people from countries around the world have come to join courses in Vipassana meditation.

Mr. Goenka has taught tens of thousands of people in more than 300 courses in India and in other countries, East and West. In 1982 he began to appoint assistant teachers to help him to meet the growing demand for courses. Meditation centres have been established under his guidance in India, Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, France, the United Kingdom, Japan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Nepal and other countries.
The technique which S. N.Goenka teaches represents a tradition that is traced back to the Buddha. The Buddha never taught a sectarian religion; he taught Dhamma - the way to liberation - which is universal. In the same tradition, Mr. Goenka's approach is totally non-sectarian. For this reason, his teaching has a profound appeal to people of all backgrounds, of every religion and no religion, and from every part of the world.
=======================================================================

The sun is shinning, birds are chirping, crows are crowing, bells are ringing, bees are pollinating and I, Aga, am crying.

Noble silence is active in Dhamma Giri’s main Pagoda, I am sitting still in the second row, surrounded by 150 indian women of all ages. A 70 year old woman from Tamil Nadu is sitting to my left and a young college girl is sitting to my right. I can’t help myself, tears are rolling down and I don’t even know why. Are all my suffering, sorrows are clearing out? Or did I just realise that I have no control over my mind’s reactions. 

My conditioned mind has been living my life for me. Embedded childhood traumas and conditions created who I identify as I, Aga. I get angry, I avert, I am happy, I crave. All life I have been living in the past or future, craving or averting. Without realising how much misery it has created over the years. As Goenka* says, deep sankharas, the imprints of experiences that form the habit patterns of the mind.

I am a happy kid, I would say. I never felt any need for improvements in my life, according to my mind I never suffer, I am not miserable. Perhaps because my mind has lead me on. It wants to feel pleasant sensations always and forever. 

So why am I crying? What is crying? Is it because I am training my mind to cooperate and instead? Its a toggle war.

I operate by using my senses, we have 5 or 6 senses depending what book you read. The eyes that see, the ears that hear, the nose that smells, touch that feels, the tongue that tastes and maybe I am missing one more there, but you get the gist. Using my senses is how my mind connects the dots of what’s happening and my unconscious reacts with craving or aversion. 

A double dutch chocolate  cake will make me crave. A piercing sound would make me avert, the pleasant smell of jasmine flowers will make…. and the list goes on. This is how my mind differentiates between what I normally call good or bad. My mind’s reactions to these sensations sculpt who I think I am. But what if there was no good or bad? What if the feeling of love and pain was the same? What if the smell of jasmine flowers or dog shit was the same. How would my mind operate then. Who would I be? Will I float in the universe without any opinion? Would I live a hippie life and feed on berries? Or perhaps, I might just be liberated from creating a fiction world that I project onto others. 

You ever smelled someone’s perfume and wondered why in the world they sprayed this stuff on? - Oh lady, you need to wash yourself, this perfume smells straight up like an ass crack! - meanwhile she is feeling like a million dollars.

But in reality, the smell whether pleasant or foul is just a smell. The taste whether delicious or disgusting is just a taste. What about the color pink? How does it make you feel. Take notice, not to the reaction, but feel the subtle sensations that your senses create. 

It’s all the same.

The first thing that David, my boyfriend said when he came out of his second Vipassana retreat - The feeling of pleasure and pain is the same, it’s all made of the same material.

- When my 10 year relationship ended with my ex, I was laying in bed and felt this feeling, the very same feeling that I felt when I fell in love. It was then that I realised, that the two sensations had no difference. - Said Nina a 15 year Vipassana meditator, who I met in India.  

A young girl gets raped, this deep sankhara is embedded in her for life. She has managed all her life to cope with this sensation and this reflects in all her actions. She might never want to have sex again, or she might be the highest paid porn star in Hollywood, or there might be a completely unrelated action, which is how her mind coped with the rape, and she keeps repeating it. It is her deep sankhara, that is directing her actions.

- I am never upset for the reasons I think I am. - Said Eckhart Tolle

So why are addicts addicts? What made my mother smoke for most of her life, knowing that this is slowly killing her. Tobacco, alcohol, drugs all put you in a certain state, to which your mind associates the feeling of pleasure, and you crave for more. Or the opposite, you had a bad experience and you will avert.

I am crying because my mind is going though a deep surgical operation, and it simply does not like it. I am training my mind not to react to pleasant or painful sensations and to remain equanimous. I am sitting for an hour without movement with pain in my knee, which is a gross sensation, I ignore my feeling of aversion. I simply acknowledge the present moment and observe as the sensation dissolves. This is how all things happen. Anicca, anicca, anicaa. Change, change, change. All things change and never remain the same. All feelings or sensations, they all change. So if I remain equanimous, I will not create new sankharas and the old ones will surface and dissolve.

The first step is to realise that craving and aversion is all derived from your five - or six - senses, which your mind categorises into good and bad. Second step is to be aware of the current sensations they create, and third step is to be equanimous and not react to them. These three steps will guide you to liberation and a happy hippie life. 

Vipassana is a ten day silent meditation where you meditate for ten hours a day. Your mind, the wild beast, goes under a deep surgical operation. Goenkaji guides you each day deeper into a technique that digs into your mind and its habit patterns. It’s a technique which will make you aware what makes you tick and react. The main difference between Vipassana and other meditation techniques, is that it not only calms your mind to stillness, but it also makes deep stuff resurface and with time, dissolve. 

It’s one of the hardest things I have done in my life and one of the most rewarding experiences on this journey. In the ten days I learned a technique which trains my mind not to react with craving or aversion that leads to my unconscious misery. I did not become liberated from all my sufferings, I am not yet enlightened and I might not be in this life time. I have learned a golden tool invented by the Buddha, passed down through generations from teacher to teacher. With practice and patience day-by-day, I am closer to step out of the wheel of suffering.

Perhaps I will not look for imperfections or perfections and accept beings and things for what they are. Perhaps the smell of flowers or sewers will just bring me to recognise my presence. Perhaps all sounds will create music in my ears and perhaps a touch will bring me to the present moment. Because reality is, you and I only live in this present moment.

As I sit and observe my body sensations my tears have stopped, and a feeling of vibration has taken over my body, yet another sensation has arisen. I feel light. Anicca, anicca, anicca.

May all beings be happy, be peaceful, be liberated.– Goenka 

Sign up for Vipassna Meditation! Become Liberated.

Individual meditation cells

View from my residency

Pogoda

Goenka's residency

This is one of the biggest centres in India, where Goenka spent most of his time.

=======================================================================

*Mr. S.N. Goenka- is a teacher of Vipassana meditation in the tradition of the late Sayagyi U Ba Khin of Burma (Myanmar).

Although Indian by descent, Mr. Goenka was born and raised in Burma. While living in Burma he had the good fortune to come into contact with U Ba Khin, and to learn the technique of Vipassana from him. After receiving training from his teacher for fourteen years, Mr. Goenka settled in India and began teaching Vipassana in 1969. In a country still sharply divided by differences of caste and religion, the courses offered by Mr. Goenka have attracted thousands of people from every part of society. In addition, many people from countries around the world have come to join courses in Vipassana meditation.

Mr. Goenka has taught tens of thousands of people in more than 300 courses in India and in other countries, East and West. In 1982 he began to appoint assistant teachers to help him to meet the growing demand for courses. Meditation centres have been established under his guidance in India, Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, France, the United Kingdom, Japan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Nepal and other countries.
The technique which S. N.Goenka teaches represents a tradition that is traced back to the Buddha. The Buddha never taught a sectarian religion; he taught Dhamma - the way to liberation - which is universal. In the same tradition, Mr. Goenka's approach is totally non-sectarian. For this reason, his teaching has a profound appeal to people of all backgrounds, of every religion and no religion, and from every part of the world.
=======================================================================

Traveling all around the world you see many unusual things, however I’ve never seen anything like this, but it just might be me. 

Traveling all around the world you see many unusual things, however I’ve never seen anything like this, but it just might be me. 
Latest Greatest...

DSC06621.jpg


Nearly 4 months passed and I, Aga, am back in India. Yes, back for yoga. More yoga, but before the yoga season fully started, David and I - along with our friends Nina and Daniel - decided to take a tour around Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh, in the northern part of India. 

Spiti Valley simply screams beauty, isolation, high Himalayas and rocky landscapes. Tibetan culture rules the valley, momos, thukpa, and tsampa is what we mainly ate. Monasteries, farming culture, high altitudes and amazing panoramas is what we inhaled and lived on.

The month of October was not quite tourist season, as the temperatures were dropping and Spiti Valley was becoming more isolated. Less tourists meant more freedom on the roads and often we found ourselves riding alone between the rocky formations.

One word, STUNNING. 

Luckily I had my GoPro, and SONY RX100 and was able to record some of the sceneries along with life and movement. 

Check out the video for riding movement and photos for jaw droppers.




Map of all the places we have stayed in for over night. (click to bring you to the full link)


 Photo Journey through Spiti Valley




Latest Greatest...

DSC06621.jpg


Nearly 4 months passed and I, Aga, am back in India. Yes, back for yoga. More yoga, but before the yoga season fully started, David and I - along with our friends Nina and Daniel - decided to take a tour around Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh, in the northern part of India. 

Spiti Valley simply screams beauty, isolation, high Himalayas and rocky landscapes. Tibetan culture rules the valley, momos, thukpa, and tsampa is what we mainly ate. Monasteries, farming culture, high altitudes and amazing panoramas is what we inhaled and lived on.

The month of October was not quite tourist season, as the temperatures were dropping and Spiti Valley was becoming more isolated. Less tourists meant more freedom on the roads and often we found ourselves riding alone between the rocky formations.

One word, STUNNING. 

Luckily I had my GoPro, and SONY RX100 and was able to record some of the sceneries along with life and movement. 

Check out the video for riding movement and photos for jaw droppers.




Map of all the places we have stayed in for over night. (click to bring you to the full link)


 Photo Journey through Spiti Valley





Are you planning to take after the Toddies, and go overseas? If so, you should be aware that dealing with foreign money can be a veritable minefield. 

For instance, if you use your normal debit or credit card abroad, you'll likely be charged a host of hidden fees. Moreover, if you decide to exchange currencies at the airport bureau de change, you'll get by far the worst exchange rate. 

So how can you avoid these hurdles, and get the best possible deal for your foreign money? Well, that's what I want to share with you in the following post.

1. Fees for using your normal credit or debit card abroad.
As I mention, if you use your normal plastic abroad, you'll likely be charged several fees that you wouldn't ordinarily pay at home. These include:

A fee for withdrawing cash from an ATM (around, £1.50 / €2 / $2.50).

2. A fee for paying with the card in a shop, especially with debit cards (£1.50 / €2 / $2.50).

A 3% load fee, so that, if you spend £100 to buy euros for example, you'll actually be charged £103.

Sub-standard exchange rates, so that you're getting less foreign currency for your money.

This is just a rough guide; to find out how much you'd actually be charged for using your debit or credit card abroad, talk to your card issuer.

In any case, you can almost certainly save money by not using your normal plastic abroad, and instead either exchanging currency in advance, or getting a specialist overseas credit card.

2. The best overseas credit cards.
The following are the best value credit cards you can use overseas. With these, you will almost certainly save money compared to using your normal plastic. 

Be aware, however, that to avoid paying interest charges for these specialised overseas cards, you should pay them off IN FULL at the end of each month. Moreover, they're only good value if you use them overseas. If you intend to spend money at home, you're better off using your normal plastic than these credit cards.

In addition, while there are good debit cards available for overseas use, the only way to obtain these is if you change your bank account, and live in the area where they're issued.

1. Halifax Clarity.
With the Halifax Clarity, there's no load fee nor ATM cash withdrawal fee. This card also gives you the best foreign exchange rate possible. 

However, even if you pay the card off in full each month, you'll still pay interest at 12.9% APR (around £1 per £100 withdrawn.)

2. Capital One Classic Extra.
With the Capital One Classic Extra, there's no load fee and you get 0.5% cashback for all spending. This card also offers outstanding exchange rates. 

However, there's a cash withdrawal fee of 3%, and the APR for this card is 34.9%, even if you pay it off in full each month.

3. Pre-paid currency cards.
If you dislike the idea of applying for a credit card to use abroad, or if your credit score isn't good enough for you to receive one, you might like a pre-paid currency card. What happens with these cards is, you load them with currency before you go, then use them like you would an ordinary debit or credit card while you're abroad.

Moreover, though the exchange rates they offer aren't as good as what you get with specialist overseas credit cards, they're better than what you'd get from a bureau de change.

The biggest downsides to these cards is that you have to pay to get them (£10 / €12  / $16.50), and if you lose them there's a replacement fee (£6 / €7 / $9).

1. Fair FX.
You don't pay load fees with the Fair FX card, nor extra fees for using the card in shops. Moreover, it offers the best exchange rate of all the pre-paid currency cards.

On the other hand, if use the Fair FX card to withdraw cash, there's a fee (£1.50 / €2 / $2.50). If you spend money in a currency other than the one you've selected, there's also a 1.4% fee.

2. Caxton FX.
There's no load or transaction fees when you use the Caxton FX card, nor a fee to withdraw cash.

However, on the downside, the exchange rates you'll get will often be worse than those provided by Fair FX, and there's a 2.4% fee if you pay with a currency other than that you selected.

3. Bureaux de change.
If you have your heart set on using foreign money while you're abroad, you can of course exchange currencies at a bureau de change.

Be aware, however, that you'll likely get worse exchange rates than if you were to use either a specialist overseas credit card, or a pre-paid currency card. This is especially the case at an airport bureau de change, where the exchange rates are the worst. What's more, make sure NOT to exchange currencies with your debit or credit card. You'll be charged a 2.5% fee to do so from most card issuers.

To find out where you can get the best foreign exchange rate, check Martin Lewis's comparison tool:  http://travelmoney.moneysavingexpert.com/

Conclusion
In brief then, the best way to save money when you go abroad is to get a specialist overseas credit card. These offer the best exchange rates, and the fewest fees.

If, however, that doesn't appeal to you, there are both pre-paid currency cards (which offer worse-but-still-good exchange rates), as well as bureaux de change, still available.

About the writer Peter Lavelle is a currency dealer at foreign exchange broker at Pure FX.

(Please bear in mind, this article is the author's opinion and doesn't constitute financial advice.)

Are you planning to take after the Toddies, and go overseas? If so, you should be aware that dealing with foreign money can be a veritable minefield. 

For instance, if you use your normal debit or credit card abroad, you'll likely be charged a host of hidden fees. Moreover, if you decide to exchange currencies at the airport bureau de change, you'll get by far the worst exchange rate. 

So how can you avoid these hurdles, and get the best possible deal for your foreign money? Well, that's what I want to share with you in the following post.

1. Fees for using your normal credit or debit card abroad.
As I mention, if you use your normal plastic abroad, you'll likely be charged several fees that you wouldn't ordinarily pay at home. These include:

A fee for withdrawing cash from an ATM (around, £1.50 / €2 / $2.50).

2. A fee for paying with the card in a shop, especially with debit cards (£1.50 / €2 / $2.50).

A 3% load fee, so that, if you spend £100 to buy euros for example, you'll actually be charged £103.

Sub-standard exchange rates, so that you're getting less foreign currency for your money.

This is just a rough guide; to find out how much you'd actually be charged for using your debit or credit card abroad, talk to your card issuer.

In any case, you can almost certainly save money by not using your normal plastic abroad, and instead either exchanging currency in advance, or getting a specialist overseas credit card.

2. The best overseas credit cards.
The following are the best value credit cards you can use overseas. With these, you will almost certainly save money compared to using your normal plastic. 

Be aware, however, that to avoid paying interest charges for these specialised overseas cards, you should pay them off IN FULL at the end of each month. Moreover, they're only good value if you use them overseas. If you intend to spend money at home, you're better off using your normal plastic than these credit cards.

In addition, while there are good debit cards available for overseas use, the only way to obtain these is if you change your bank account, and live in the area where they're issued.

1. Halifax Clarity.
With the Halifax Clarity, there's no load fee nor ATM cash withdrawal fee. This card also gives you the best foreign exchange rate possible. 

However, even if you pay the card off in full each month, you'll still pay interest at 12.9% APR (around £1 per £100 withdrawn.)

2. Capital One Classic Extra.
With the Capital One Classic Extra, there's no load fee and you get 0.5% cashback for all spending. This card also offers outstanding exchange rates. 

However, there's a cash withdrawal fee of 3%, and the APR for this card is 34.9%, even if you pay it off in full each month.

3. Pre-paid currency cards.
If you dislike the idea of applying for a credit card to use abroad, or if your credit score isn't good enough for you to receive one, you might like a pre-paid currency card. What happens with these cards is, you load them with currency before you go, then use them like you would an ordinary debit or credit card while you're abroad.

Moreover, though the exchange rates they offer aren't as good as what you get with specialist overseas credit cards, they're better than what you'd get from a bureau de change.

The biggest downsides to these cards is that you have to pay to get them (£10 / €12  / $16.50), and if you lose them there's a replacement fee (£6 / €7 / $9).

1. Fair FX.
You don't pay load fees with the Fair FX card, nor extra fees for using the card in shops. Moreover, it offers the best exchange rate of all the pre-paid currency cards.

On the other hand, if use the Fair FX card to withdraw cash, there's a fee (£1.50 / €2 / $2.50). If you spend money in a currency other than the one you've selected, there's also a 1.4% fee.

2. Caxton FX.
There's no load or transaction fees when you use the Caxton FX card, nor a fee to withdraw cash.

However, on the downside, the exchange rates you'll get will often be worse than those provided by Fair FX, and there's a 2.4% fee if you pay with a currency other than that you selected.

3. Bureaux de change.
If you have your heart set on using foreign money while you're abroad, you can of course exchange currencies at a bureau de change.

Be aware, however, that you'll likely get worse exchange rates than if you were to use either a specialist overseas credit card, or a pre-paid currency card. This is especially the case at an airport bureau de change, where the exchange rates are the worst. What's more, make sure NOT to exchange currencies with your debit or credit card. You'll be charged a 2.5% fee to do so from most card issuers.

To find out where you can get the best foreign exchange rate, check Martin Lewis's comparison tool:  http://travelmoney.moneysavingexpert.com/

Conclusion
In brief then, the best way to save money when you go abroad is to get a specialist overseas credit card. These offer the best exchange rates, and the fewest fees.

If, however, that doesn't appeal to you, there are both pre-paid currency cards (which offer worse-but-still-good exchange rates), as well as bureaux de change, still available.

About the writer Peter Lavelle is a currency dealer at foreign exchange broker at Pure FX.

(Please bear in mind, this article is the author's opinion and doesn't constitute financial advice.)
— You are a great kisser — he said. Too bad that we won’t know how it would have been the second time around. He continued complementing our one night, while I got ready to leave.

We met a few weeks prior through traveling friends, never had any intention of going beyond the friendship line, but this night we did.

Love, sex and intimacy is boundryless when you are out of your element and in the wild. All rules are set aside and the fast forward button is on. A few seconds to impress, no time to mingle, no time to play games, you cut straight to the chase. Within seconds you’re naked, all insecurities aside. Who are you? You dont even recognize yourself.

Luckly Facebook at least gives a scan.

— Yes, too bad. But the world is small and you never know, we just might have a second chance. — I smiled and stepped out.

The question is do we really want to have a second chance, or is it better to leave it as an exotic experience - a treat of fantasy for when you return home. The whatever happens in ____ stays in ____ kind of words. All part of the traveling experience.

But what if there is a chance?

Falling in love, finding that perfect one far far away from your home somehow actually sounds more realistic then looking near by. It's more exotic, like from the book by Elizabeth Gilbert "Eat, Pray and Love", where the main character goes on a journey to find helself and along with herself she finds Felipe, the one.

Reality? Speaking only from my travel experiance, it's not as Disney as it sounds. Most of the time when you meet someone, attraction forms, instant flirting goes on, you have the best time of your life. You think, for sure he is the one. Together you trek to the peak and before you fall in love it's time to move on.

Often the two of you have a destination, sometimes same direction sometimes opposite. Some need to go back home to reality, and for some the visa runs out. Occasionally some are married and the wife preaches from home.

So you exchange email.

— I will stay in touch, I promise. I will come and visit you. I already miss you.

Frequent messages are exchanged, Skype, chat, all so hot. The digital intimacy goes on, but with time all things change form, the contact slowly fades. You slowly depart. Before you know a new excitement forms. But perhaps if you actually did meet once again, would it be the same? Well, this was not the case in Pad Thai is not the same in Laos's post.

Time will only tell, while traveling you are on a roller coaster. Some things happen fast and some linger, but all rides come to an end. And then you exit and face the shaken emotions. You either had enough or crave for more.

Eventually though, when you travel enough, you might come across a different kind of buzz. When the radar is on and the frequencies align, you might attract someone alike. What do I mean by alike? Floating in the same boat. When the road is open, yet your speed is the same. When the direction is positive, seeking the same. When there comes a time in ones life, which you can say is like mine. Perhaps it's mother nature calling his name. It happens, there is a chance. Patience, acceptance and flexibility are strongly rooted in that chance.

Or chances are you travel enough, experience too much and come to realize that everywhere we humans are all alike, and it's up to you to open, embrace, love and give it a chance.
— You are a great kisser — he said. Too bad that we won’t know how it would have been the second time around. He continued complementing our one night, while I got ready to leave.

We met a few weeks prior through traveling friends, never had any intention of going beyond the friendship line, but this night we did.

Love, sex and intimacy is boundryless when you are out of your element and in the wild. All rules are set aside and the fast forward button is on. A few seconds to impress, no time to mingle, no time to play games, you cut straight to the chase. Within seconds you’re naked, all insecurities aside. Who are you? You dont even recognize yourself.

Luckly Facebook at least gives a scan.

— Yes, too bad. But the world is small and you never know, we just might have a second chance. — I smiled and stepped out.

The question is do we really want to have a second chance, or is it better to leave it as an exotic experience - a treat of fantasy for when you return home. The whatever happens in ____ stays in ____ kind of words. All part of the traveling experience.

But what if there is a chance?

Falling in love, finding that perfect one far far away from your home somehow actually sounds more realistic then looking near by. It's more exotic, like from the book by Elizabeth Gilbert "Eat, Pray and Love", where the main character goes on a journey to find helself and along with herself she finds Felipe, the one.

Reality? Speaking only from my travel experiance, it's not as Disney as it sounds. Most of the time when you meet someone, attraction forms, instant flirting goes on, you have the best time of your life. You think, for sure he is the one. Together you trek to the peak and before you fall in love it's time to move on.

Often the two of you have a destination, sometimes same direction sometimes opposite. Some need to go back home to reality, and for some the visa runs out. Occasionally some are married and the wife preaches from home.

So you exchange email.

— I will stay in touch, I promise. I will come and visit you. I already miss you.

Frequent messages are exchanged, Skype, chat, all so hot. The digital intimacy goes on, but with time all things change form, the contact slowly fades. You slowly depart. Before you know a new excitement forms. But perhaps if you actually did meet once again, would it be the same? Well, this was not the case in Pad Thai is not the same in Laos's post.

Time will only tell, while traveling you are on a roller coaster. Some things happen fast and some linger, but all rides come to an end. And then you exit and face the shaken emotions. You either had enough or crave for more.

Eventually though, when you travel enough, you might come across a different kind of buzz. When the radar is on and the frequencies align, you might attract someone alike. What do I mean by alike? Floating in the same boat. When the road is open, yet your speed is the same. When the direction is positive, seeking the same. When there comes a time in ones life, which you can say is like mine. Perhaps it's mother nature calling his name. It happens, there is a chance. Patience, acceptance and flexibility are strongly rooted in that chance.

Or chances are you travel enough, experience too much and come to realize that everywhere we humans are all alike, and it's up to you to open, embrace, love and give it a chance.

Budapest is the only place in the world where being homeless is a punishable offense. Thank god for couchsurfing.

Budapest's architecture was meant to resemble Paris, currently containing a modern layer of grayness on most buildings.

Budapest has more thermal springs than any other capital city in the world. Toddies spent an entire 2.5 hours soaking up its minerals.

Budapest is home to the third largest Parliament building in the world, and one of Iza's favorite buildings in Budapest.

Aga's transition into a Vegan started in Budapest.

Budapest is a great place to ride a bicycle. Hot Toddies have toured around in Budapest on two bicycles covering 16 miles in 2 hours.

Budapest is home to one of the largest synagogues in Europe.

In Budapest Toddies rode the oldest underground train system in mainland Europe.

It is said that if you touch the Anonymous statue that sits in the park near the Heroes’ Square you will become a better writer. it dosent mentionsa anything obout bettar spelling.

Budapest houses about 223 museums, 90 cinemas, 237 monuments, 12 concert halls, 35 theatres and 2 opera houses. Toddies only saw a few monuments and one opera house.

The best dessert according to Hot Toddies is Mákos rétes (poppyseed strudel) which can be easily found in Budapest. The maximum number of rétes bought by Toddies in one day is 50.

At the time of its construction in 1903, Budapest’s Elizabeth Bridge was the world’s longest suspension bridge. Aga rode to yoga on her bicycle using it.

The largest panoramic image in the world was shot from the top of Gellért Hill in Budapest, Toddies manage to replicate it using the Sony RX100. Click, click, click.

In Budapest was where Hot Toddies had their 2nd reunion, here is their journey through photos...























.







Budapest is the only place in the world where being homeless is a punishable offense. Thank god for couchsurfing.

Budapest's architecture was meant to resemble Paris, currently containing a modern layer of grayness on most buildings.

Budapest has more thermal springs than any other capital city in the world. Toddies spent an entire 2.5 hours soaking up its minerals.

Budapest is home to the third largest Parliament building in the world, and one of Iza's favorite buildings in Budapest.

Aga's transition into a Vegan started in Budapest.

Budapest is a great place to ride a bicycle. Hot Toddies have toured around in Budapest on two bicycles covering 16 miles in 2 hours.

Budapest is home to one of the largest synagogues in Europe.

In Budapest Toddies rode the oldest underground train system in mainland Europe.

It is said that if you touch the Anonymous statue that sits in the park near the Heroes’ Square you will become a better writer. it dosent mentionsa anything obout bettar spelling.

Budapest houses about 223 museums, 90 cinemas, 237 monuments, 12 concert halls, 35 theatres and 2 opera houses. Toddies only saw a few monuments and one opera house.

The best dessert according to Hot Toddies is Mákos rétes (poppyseed strudel) which can be easily found in Budapest. The maximum number of rétes bought by Toddies in one day is 50.

At the time of its construction in 1903, Budapest’s Elizabeth Bridge was the world’s longest suspension bridge. Aga rode to yoga on her bicycle using it.

The largest panoramic image in the world was shot from the top of Gellért Hill in Budapest, Toddies manage to replicate it using the Sony RX100. Click, click, click.

In Budapest was where Hot Toddies had their 2nd reunion, here is their journey through photos...























.