8 days in an ashram.

Ashram highlights

Lectures about not eating meat or dairy, or at least severely cutting down – This encouraged a group discussion after class about how much the meat and dairy eaters missed burgers, ice cream and cheese. And wine.

The oil and herb bundle massage at the Ashram – Imagine being marinated and tenderized, beat down with herb bundles, by an Indian lady wearing a cooking apron, while laying naked on a life-size wooden chopping board next to a stove.

Free Fridays – Fridays were free days where we got to go beyond the ashram and visit the neighboring towns. After what looked like a losing battle with a gang of rickshaw drivers, a bus pulled into town and a fast decision was made to jump on. The next scene was straight out of a Benny Hill episode as the 5 of us ran round and round the bus looking for the entry.

Blocked –
My digestive system stopped working in protest to the vegetarian diet. This lasted for 8 days.

Greed, hope and desire – are the enemies of inner peace. Not that we should be hopeless, just aware of the present without putting expectation on the future. It’s about the practice, not the outcome. The journey, not the goal.

Mosquito’s– Were eating Jennie and I alive (Jennie more) and we now looked like guest in a skin disease clinic rather than an Ashram and had become actively involved in chasing and exterminating anything with more than 2 legs that didn’t have a tail.

Talent show – Yes, there was an ashram talent show. On principle, I refused to participate in the talent show because I have no talent. My fondest and funniest memory from the talent show is when the Irish girls were getting the audience to separate into 2 dancing lines in preparation for some Gaelic dancing. I turned to Pablo, a young man from Spain and asked ‘Want to be my dancing partner?’, to which he responds a seriously ‘Nope’.

Nluogu Alley

Near where I am staying in Beijing, amongst the Hutongs, is Nluogu Alley.

I stumbled onto Nluogu Alley by serendipity. After having the rickshaw ride that would have scared Death, I made the driver drop me off ‘somewhere’ and started walking map in hand towards my hotel.

Roaming away from the hustle and bustle, I came apon this charming, tree lined alley with a variety of cafes, restaurants and bars, and all sorts of interesting beautiful boutique shops.

Filled, but not overcrowded, with wandering people, bicycles cycling by, and very few cars passing through. I met a pretty white goose ( yes GOOSE), wearing a sign card around its neck. Interesting choice for advertising, but it got the job done with many locals and tourists pausing to read his message and ask him for a photo. This goose had a great job, happily roaming this beautiful alley and making friends with every waddle.

Charming. Did I mention this alley was charming? I was completely charmed.

Nluogu Alley is complete with traditional Chinese architectured terrace houses, many with rooftop restaurants, shops selling Love Potions, local fashion designers and Arts & Craft boutiques – This was my kind of hang out!

I’ve already decided to check out every eatery in Nluogu Alley, and with so much variety I’m not sure if the rest of Beijing is going to have a chance..