Kristine wanders

The musings of a wanderer......

2014 in Review…..

2014 was a pretty rad year. I left my heart trailed across India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Canada, the US and Saudi Arabia. I convinced my dearest pals Jen and Sacha to accompany me on what would prove to be an epic adventure as we drove a 3 wheeled auto-rickshaw across India. In fact, that was how we started January 1, 2014. Leaving the starting point of the race in Jaisalmer, India heading south towards Kerala. It was an amazing journey, and one that taught me the lesson that this one precious life is my own, and I’m going to live it how I see fit. As 3 gals driving on Indian roads we set out to to have a great adventure, but ended up shattering traditional gender role beliefs all over the country. After the race we took some time off to visit the backwaters of Kerala and had the unpleasant experience of being robbed by the houseboat crew. Then the even more unpleasant experience of dealing with the Indian police. Here the only gender beliefs that were shattered were our own as we tried to stand up for ourselves but ended up in a bureaucratic uphill battle. Later that week Jen and I found an article about ourselves in a local paper documenting our “alleged robbing.” Funny but also not so funny.

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At the starting line

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With our guru Dhadhi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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At a roadside stop

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Yes. I drove that thing!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3000km later at the finish line.

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Our Indian paper debu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After our houseboating fiasco Sacha returned to New Zealand. Jen and I traveled to Bhutan which couldn’t be more jarring after spending nearly a month in India. Bhutan was clean, and quiet, and sparsely populated. Since the only way a person can visit Bhutan is by organized tour we could actually relax as we didn’t have to worry about anything. We literally didn’t even have to carry our own bags. Someone told us when it was time to eat and what time we were to wake up. It was pure luxury. We had a kind driver and guide, both of who I still keep in contact with!

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Hiking to the Tiger’s Nest

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Taktsang monastery. AKA Tiger’s Nest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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At a local pub with Phub and Tashi

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EVEREST!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

After Bhutan we flew to Nepal. On route we flew right near Mt Everest which was pretty dang cool. Kathmandu was bustling and over whelming, but was really cool to explore and we had some of the best food of the trip. We spent a few days relaxing in Pokhara with the Himalayas overlooking the lake there. It was lovely.

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A friendly monk

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Kathmandu temple

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We then flew to Bangladesh, which had long been on my list of countries I wanted to visit. We arrived into the chaos of Dhaka and were promptly informed that there were mass protests planned for the following day and that it was inadvisable for westerners to leave their hotel. The day following the protests we emerged and I fell in love with Bangladesh. I found the people of Bangladesh to be so kind and hospitable. The travel was difficult and often frustrating as there isn’t much in the way of tourist infrastructure, but I loved my time here. For me photography is a huge part of travel and I took so many amazing photos here. The Bangladeshi people we met loved to have their photos taken, and in turn take photos of us. Jen and I would often joke that the paparazzi were trailing us all over the country. Such great memories!!

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Paparazzi time…..

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At Paharpur a UNESCO site

 

 

 

 

 

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Bangladeshi buses

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Bangladeshi trains

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blowing kisses from the train

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The people were so friendly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Bangladesh we returned to India to volunteer with a NGO in Kolkata that worked with sex workers and their children. This was such an eye opening experience. I witnessed poverty on a scale I had never seen before. It was shocking, and numbing, and difficult to ignore. The children at the charity were malnourished, and many of them unloved. It was heartbreaking. Our time in Kolkata was hard. It left its mark on me. Jen and I would then return to Delhi where she left for home and I flew to Rishikesh for 10 days of yoga and soul searching. I spent time in an Ashram there, and met some very lovely people. People with who I hope to see again this upcoming year.

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Super cure kiddos

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Writing lessons

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ashram living in Rishikesh

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My ashram buddies Beibs and Nikki

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Early march I returned to Canada, to resume work, and even though I had never considered returning to Saudi Arabia, that seed of adventure had been planted, and I started to really consider it. I spend the summer relaxing poolside, visiting my dear friends in Seattle, and road tripping from Denver to Kelowna, BC with Jen.

In the fall I was back in Seattle a couple of times and attended a close friends wedding, spent time with my cousin and her super cute kiddo, and started organizing my life for the upcoming year. The fall was especially hard as my parents decided to take a break to figure out what they each want out of their lives. It was a struggle to plan for my move to Saudi while dealing with the stark reality that the life I was leaving behind would likely be completely different by the time I returned.

So, in October I returned to Saudi, and if you’ve been reading my blog then you’re well aware of how 2014 wrapped up. I rang in the New Year under the Arabian sky at the New Zealand embassy. It was quite the night!! I’m looking forward to the adventures that await in 2015, and to make use of the many lessons I learned in 2014. So I’ll finish this post with one of my favourite lines of Mary Oliver…….. “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

2 Comments

  1. Had a friend ask me to do the Rickshaw race a couple years ago but I was starting my RN to BSN program. Havent thought of it since until I read this blog. Bhutan and Bangladesh are on my lists of countries to see. I would love to return to Nepal to hike to Everest basecamp one day so maybe put them all into a trip. Who did you volunteer with in Kolkata?

    • kristinewanders

      March 1, 2020 at 2:32 am

      Kat- the rickshaw run is one of the truest adventures you can imagine- I’d love to do one again. We volunteered with New Light- its a charity that helps educate children of sex workers in the red light district there.

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