Archive for the ‘Healing and Homecoming’ Category

My five weeks in Bali are complete bliss. I’ve been travelling alone for such a long time and so internally focused, that I’d almost forgotten the importance of human connections. Resuming my social self, I begin meeting fellow travelers at guest houses, sharing meals with new friends and going on outings. Most of them are on their own personal journey, and it’s wonderful to connect and share stories. One of the highlights is staying at Ashram Gandhi in Candidasa, Bali. My cottage is a few feet from the beach, and I can hear the waves crashing all night long. We eat our vegetarian meals communally, and yoga class overlooks the beach with cows softly moo-ing in the background.

At long last, my friends from Seattle arrive in Bali and suddenly my days are jam-packed with adventures. We return to towns I’ve already stayed at, and locals and travellers call out my name on the street. My friends are astounded that I seem to know everybody. On our first day, we hire a boat and head out to the small islands dotting the horizon. While we are snorkeling, the fisherman uses a spear gun to catch fish and a massive 11 pound squid. Later, we grill the fish and squid on a beautiful white, sandy beach.

In Ubud, Bali, I visit a healer with a delegation of six friends. The 82-year old healer is rail thin, and has a clean, bright energy. He takes short smoke breaks and cracks jokes between healings. The healer is in a chair and I’m sitting on the ground facing away from him. During the initial diagnosis, he places his fingers in my ears, probing my head, neck and shoulders. Before he hits a tender spot, he exclaims, “Ow!” predicting the pain. He tells me my head, heart and gut aren’t connected. That I need to swallow my smile and smile from ecstasy. It’s sometimes difficult to understand his English, and he tells me I’m from outer space (later, my friends have varying interpretations: I was abducted by aliens, I’m psychic, I live on another dimension). Then, he pauses and tilts his head to the side in deep thought. Everyone laughs, “Annie stumped the healer!” He asks me to lie on the ground, and takes out a twig, really a mini-wand and presses the twig between my toes. At first, I don’t realize I’m screaming out loud. The pain is excruciating and I’m yelping and laughing at the same time.

When we first arrive at the compound, we observe the healing sessions of a group of Swedish tourists. We exchange glances of horror when they scream and convulse from the twig. Then, the healer stands over me, splaying my feet with his, uttering Balinese words and motioning with his hands (I think this is the actual healing portion of the session). Afterwards, he uses the twig on my toes again and the pain is considerably less. His final words to me are “Don’t’ worry, be happy” – trite but true.

After a brutal all-night layover in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, we arrive in Da Nang, Vietnam exhausted with no sleep. We visit a friend in Da Nang, and in a manner of minutes we are all laughing hysterically. It feels so lovely to be back in Vietnam.

I use my 200-word Vietnamese vocabulary to make arrangements at hotels, with taxi drivers, and in restaurants. And I’m continually moved by the gentle, funny and strong souls of the people; easy to spot in a crowd of hawkers. The 50-year old man renting bicycles with the sweetest smile. The 18-year old boy carving bamboo roots into artwork. The 80-year old woman selling quail eggs and peanuts. The young women hold my hand, wrapping their other arm around my waist or stroking my hair. Vietnam is a part of my soul, and my new life starts today. I’m so grateful my Seattle friends can see me in MY Vietnam. They even email my mother that I have supportive aunties in Vietnam looking after me.











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