Friday, December 12, 2014

First Impressions - Ubud Bali

1. Bali is one tripped out place! If it isn't the insane animalistic Hindu gods that you find at every corner it's crazy ass real bugs and lizards that make all sorts of new sounds. Plus the greenery smells so good, and the flowers are beautiful. Sometimes I think I see something out the corner of my eye but it's just a statute of some crazy half animal half human god or goddess.
A photo posted by Vanessa G (@veggyblue) on

2. The people are kind. They are happy. They aren't poor or suffering. They love children and their families. The biggest question I get from the locals are "Are you travelling alone?" and when I answer "Yes", thats all I get. I dug a bit further on this a couple of times because its not common for a Balinese women to travel on her own, she would always go with someone, either her husband or friend. They are happy for the business so do not care if you are on your own. I have never felt unsafe, but have gotten cat calls from construction men. Maybe they just wanted to practice their English.
A photo posted by Vanessa G (@veggyblue) on

3. The food. Amazing. Fresh, local, organic. I took a a local cooking class and I am so happy I did. It was vegetarian and we did a walk through of the market, went to the farm and picked fresh vegetables for the lunch, and made it.. with the help of 3 other women. I learned how to make coconut oil and milk, something I just take advantage from the cans and jars that get exported. Indonesian people eat a primarily vegetarian diet, and eat meat on special occasions and always thank the animals (different from say Indian Hindus who don't eat meat at all). The ingredients are all very simple and seem to be always complimented by coconut sugar. On the other side is the expat restaurateurs meeting the needs of the millions of tourists a year that come through Bali. A lot of them are Australian and if you know anything about the Aussies is that they are doing a pretty spectacular job at creating international dining options and design within this setting.  I don't have a favourite yet because they are all my favourites.
A photo posted by Vanessa G (@veggyblue) on

4. Rituals / Religion.  The Balinese probably spend a third of their life shopping for and creating blessing for their Hindu/Buddhist ritualistic offerings, a big section of their local market is just for gifts to the gods. I think it must be working because if you can afford these offerings, life must be good! If you know anything about Hinduism you know that there are millions of gods. So everyday there is a blessing, today I made blessing for our lunch we picked from a fresh garden and made with some local women. There was blessing at the end of my driveway today, and I was told it was made in general to the staff and guests of the hotel. I'll take it! Even my bicycle had an offering with a burning incense, to protect me and everyone else. I find them to be good fly distractors but also a very beautiful part of their culture. A way of honoring, and taking great care in something that is really quite beautiful. I am able to understand a lot of the stories as well because of my Yogic studies over the decades.

I have now been in Ubud for a week which has included two massages, a pedicure, two banana rice flour pancakes, four yoga classesone astrology reading, one tibetan bowl meditation, one river rafting experience, a local cooking class, a bike ride through rice fields and villages, a visit to the second biggest and active volcano in Indonesia. Off to the coast now..

A photo posted by Vanessa G (@veggyblue) on

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

How do you do it Vanessa? - the question I get asked the most about travelling

When I started blogging I did it as an outlet for ideas and opinions, and to keep people up to date on my travels. I have kind of dropped off the radar as I go back and forth on whether there is any value in this exercise in expressing my feelings for the whole wide internet to read. But as the title of my blog entails.. I should listen to my intuition. Plus I read so many online articles and know especially in my travels that I may create value to those looking to do something similar in the future as I search out and research my next adventure to Bali.

The question I get the most is how do you get to travel so much? Well like a fine art, I have crafted the art of my own experiences and making available to me the things I really want to do in life. Life is to short to do the things you don't want to do for very long. Most peoples resistances stop right there, they just can't get more time off of work. But do you want to live to work, or work to live, or just live? But what happens when you tell work "I'm going". I've only had one job tell me that means I won't have a job when I came back, and really it was a blessing to be released from that job though it was one of my hardest decisions of my life it also made me who I am today and opened me to a whole other world of opportunity and experiences.. and 4 AMAZING months in South America.

So work.. in Canada we are restricted to two weeks a year which means you basically get to do an exhausting trip somewhere far, or some short local trips. To me that isn't even worth it if you can't get a month in a place. I recommend when taking a new job to negotiate your holiday time to include more. Everyone in Europe gets at least four weeks and what is it in our culture that says we don't deserve the same? If you are a hard worker, and you are worth it they will give it to you. If they don't give it to you I would think you may need to find a better fit, and believe me the better fit is out there.  What Canadian companies have not caught on to is that you actually being happy means you will work harder and actually deliver more on your projects. Of course this doesn't apply to all work, especially if you are just starting out in your career, or working in bureaucratic positions with no grey areas.
The best work is the flexible, contract work where you often work for short periods and often can take space between these contracts. The reality of many jobs now don't need you to even be in an office anymore and by slowly introducing a work from home option to your employer it will often lead to extended holidays where you can work from the beach rather than home. That means taking your computer with you on holiday but it means enjoying your stay in a different culture a bit longer, it's worth it in my eyes. Flexibility is key. Knowing when it's a good time to take a holiday for yourself and your company/organization is also a way of showing the people around you that you care enough to not take off during the busy time.
Timing is everything. I tend not to travel in high season in order to save on high season accommodation, though some of the best times to have extended holidays are over Christmas and New Years as a lot of peoples work slow down so just go when you can go.

Money. If you have never learned how to save or pay off your debts, I would probably start there. Don't take a holiday until you have learned that skill. That being said sometimes opportunities are dropped in your lap at the last moment and saying No isn't just isn't an option. The one article I read about what you think about on your death bed isn't about the money, but the amazing time you had on a holiday. Look at the big picture always.  If you need 5 star accommodations, then lucky you or unlucky you has you are at risk of having little exposure to the cultures outside your compound. Sometimes that is what people need and I respect that. If you can afford it or have awesome friends who hook you with friends discounts do that because what goes around comes around. Share the wealth if you got it, what's the point of having a benefit if you can't share it? Often one night in a 5 star can pay for a whole week in Thailand, Ecuador, Spain or Turkey. Thanks to the internet there are so many options available now. My favourites are often guest houses, casa's, or any place where you can interact with the locals or meet other people from around the world. Find a place maybe that has free bike tours, group dinners, or great reviews. The choice is yours where you want to stay and spend your money. But don't go into debt to go on a holiday, but I am ok with going into debt to extend a holiday. Last minute decisions to stay in a place are often some of the best decisions I have ever had to make because who knows if you will ever get to that place on the earth again. Getting to a place sometimes takes work, and money and backtracking or going another time will cost you more in the long run. More debt isn't what you need to relax, and to me that just creates more stress. It is not something that is taught in school and it is one of the biggest issues I see in friends who want to travel but can't. Living cheaply doesn't mean you are cheap, it just means you may so no to some stuff that isn't logical. One of the biggest expenses in a city like Vancouver is rent, and a vehicle. If you can get rid of your car you can save an upwards of $7000/ year (yes do the math because it's true).
I have always rented out my home when I went away travelling, even before the days of Airbnb. Craigslist has allowed me to not increase my expenses while away and allowed someone else the comfort of my home. My home is simple, comfortable, and is in Vancouver so there is always a demand. I don't charge people more than it's worth as I want to attract the right person that is worthy of staying in my place. I have been fortunate to have dozens of different people stay in my home and have never had any issues. Airbnb makes this easier as well now with insurance and checking of people's IDs. I have always taken copies of peoples IDs just so I know exactly who is in my space. I have always trust my intuition when it comes to someone staying in my home. If something doesn't feel right just say No. And that goes with all of lifes situations really.

I don't have a big income but I am very happy with life and lifestyle, but I am able to save even with a vehicle. If you have attachments over having a stranger have sex in your bed, you aren't going to want to share your home. But imagine how many people have had sex in the bed you are sleeping in on holiday. If you want to travel you have to let go of some things. It is all possible if you want it to be possible. It sounds like a lot of work but it work and for me it isn't that much of hassle when I am saving a couple thousand dollars on holiday expenses. I've been to Prince George, Montreal x2, Boston, NYC, Seattle, Cuba, Ottawa, London, Paris, Turkey, and Desolation Sound this year and am heading to Bali next week for a month. Get a travel credit card and charge everything to it (if you pay off your debt immediately!).  I travel somewhere once a year on points.  Life is what you make it, you create your own obstacles, and set your own goals. Sometimes things don't happen but that doesn't mean it won't happen. If you really want to get out and see the world you can do it. I'll even help you. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Ode To The Lemon by Pablo Neruda

Untitled, originally uploaded by veggy.

Ode To The Lemon by Pablo Neruda
From blossoms
by the moonlight,
from an
aroma of exasperated
steeped in fragrance,
drifted from the lemon tree,
and from its plantarium
lemons descended to the earth.

Tender yield!
The coasts,
the markets glowed
with light, with
unrefined gold;
we opened
two halves
of a miracle,
congealed acid
from the hemispheres
of a star,
the most intense liqueur
of nature,
unique, vivid,
born of the cool, fresh
of its fragrant house,
its acid, secret symmetry.

sliced a small
in the lemon,
the concealed apse, opened,
revealed acid stained glass,
oozed topaz,
cool architecture.

So, when you hold
the hemisphere
of a cut lemon
above your plate,
you spill
a universe of gold,
yellow goblet
of miracles,
a fragrant nipple
of the earth's breast,
a ray of light that was made fruit,
the minute fire of a planet.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Vancouver development vs. Art

Pink clouds, originally uploaded by veggy.
You can not be in Vancouver and not talk about how freaking expensive it is, and how much property costs. I have been a renter, and a home owner that has benefited from this 'boom', and I have felt really weird about it. I have started to figure out what is going on here though, and went to a Big Mouth talk last night on the topic of Art and Real Estate paneled by some amazing local architects, developers, business owners, and artists.

The conclusion that I see is that it comes back to the city. The city need development and and developers come in and market themselves in a way that is attractive to the locals with cool images and links to all the places you can eat and drink in the area but in actual fact what the building is doing is driving out the very people that make that area indeed 'cool'. Artists most of the time can't afford to live in fancy new places, that in turn cause an increase and demand in the area that turn the run down places to jack up their rent as well and the spiral starts.

The city supposedly has a committee that oversees who gets to build where but what we have seen in Vancouver is that everyone is building the same stuff. Cheaper and cheaper glass boxes, which one day will need to be torn down because there is no effort made into making something that will last. Anyone with an eye for design or quality can see right through these projects and know what the majority of them are 'crap'.
The market is taken up by investors and realtors (don't even get me started on realtors! A system that allows these very easily trained people to become the richest people in our city is one of questionable ethics and positioning) purchasing new builds and then selling them at a profit, making a quick buck, something our government has deemed non taxable profit. Who wouldn't take advantage of this? Most other rich people in Canada (or government employees) take their off shore instead, but why bother when you can buy a condo and do it for free above board!

When the city agrees to put up a condo they do also take a percentage of the profits to use it towards new schools, parks etc, which supposedly they are falling behind on. All these new condos have gone up and I have not heard of any new schools?  Also what is being forgotten is a reinvestment into the arts. What makes any and every amazing city in the world, world class is the arts. Art is what keeps us on the pulse of the vibrance and energy you can feel in a city. A city like Portland has implemented a mandatory arts tax, and our city should be looking into this is well. But how does this help keep artists living and working in the area that they want to live and work in?
Subsidized housing, Co-ops, renting were all brought up, but it still won't be enough. Developers need to work with the artists to bring in real interaction not just marketed bull. The city right now offers four live/work in or subsided housing situations for four year patterns. This number needs to be increased to 40, or 400! Maybe take part of that inflated realtor fees and put it towards an live/work program. Imagine a program that housed and nurtured artists in our community? How much that would change our landscape of our city. The restrictions and bureaucracy of our representative and there inability to act upon anything because of outdated red tape policies need to be thrown out. Archaic rules that give people jobs to jump through hoops could be replaced by just making decisions and actually doing things. Keeping city workers in jobs to shuffle things from A to B instead of really making change is something that needs to happen or else we are going to end up a city that isn't progressive on the world scale. If we can learn anything from Europe and the countries in bankruptcy is that creating work based on old rules and not having outside monitoring of what is actually going on in these offices, and the constant increase of there own wages will eventually bankrupt us as well. Our system needs an overhaul, not just on a city level. So where do we start?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Wild rose cleanse done!

Well the last few days were pretty easy but I did end up cheating by drinking one small beer and had a tortilla, and both times my stomach hated me.
I celebrated today by eating a delicious gluten free muffin from my favorite new cafe called Cafe for Contemporary Art, and black chai tea. I thought I would feel more satisfied by choosing these options but they have actually lost there power of me.
The idea of eating something that is heavy and that would satisfy me, wasn't there. I just kind of feel heavy and malnourished. We'll see how long that lasts.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Day 9 of the Wild rose cleanse

Well I am definitely feeling more energetic. I started the day with steel cut oats and what I thought was to much cinnamon but it was actually much better.
I did cheat today knowingly though. I had a burrito, with a wheat tortilla. It made me feel like crap. My stomach got upset and bloated, I couldn't concentrate on what I was doing anymore either. Does this mean I have a wheat intolerance? That could explain months of eating white bread and having a bloated upset stomach. I guess it seems quite clear now but I was hoping that wasn't the case.
I enjoyed a coffee with almond milk. I drank tons of water. I feel really thirsty the last few days. I am loving green tea again for the first time in awhile, mainly because I rather drink black tea.
I came home and made veggies & tofu sauteed in coconut oil, cumin, almond butter, salt and chilis. Coconut milk was added at the end. Topped with Chia seeds. Served on a bed of bulgar. I would usually add a tablespoon of maple syrup and raisins to this but it seemed sweet even without it and I will skip that addition from now. Now that I think of it I didn't have any sugar cravings today, which might just be a miracle! 3 more days to go.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Day 6-7 of the Wild rose cleanse

Good morning from Bowen Island!, originally uploaded by veggy.

Good morning from Bowen Island! I have been at my parents place for the last two nights which has left me hovering around their fridge. My mom keeps asking me what I am staring at. I am basically reading labels to see if I can eat anything.
I feel pretty done with this cleanse. I have run out of ideas, even though I have used up most of their container of Bragg. Bragg just might pull me through the next 5 days. My mom thinks that goat cheese, dried cranberries, and vinegar should be on the cleanse and that they are good for me.
I went for a nice walk yesterday to the golf course and back. My energy levels are feeling up, and I am pretty sure I have lost some weight, how could you not! I feel lighter overall and will try and keep up the discipline. I made chia pudding yesterday with almond milk, but it really doesn't taste that exciting without a bit of maple syrup. I am definitely trying to find something sweet to eat but strawberries are my only refuge, oh and popcorn.
5 days to go!