Around the World and Back: Food & Other Lessons from 11 Countries, 5+ Months
Getting coconuts and fruit at the train market, a few hours outside Bangkok.
I am officially back in the United States. Wow. It’s been five and a half months of adventures around the world, across 11 countries on this one, interrupted journey!
I’ve learned and grown tremendously from the journey. When I stepped back in New York and now back in our home in LA, I feel like things are the same, but all completely different. Have you ever felt that after a really significant experience? It is us that grows and changes, so our perspective on things shifts. And even going back to Thailand, which is a place I’ve been dozens of times, and have spent over 6 months total journeying through, felt different now is some ways, because I’ve grown so much as a person, I’m receiving the experience differently. I love it just the same or more, and appreciate the spiritual aspect of it and that energy that permeates throughout the people even more.
Traditional Bukchan house, Korea.
I do feel that I learned and grew with increased knowledge and consciousness, and in spiritual and mental ways as I did on my longer, extended around the world trip some years ago. Of course, I’ve been traveling a lot in between, with trips to India, Morocco, Africa and elsewhere, but I really appreciate these extended journeys, that really force me to take a close look at myself, my beliefs and my life, as my I integrate into so many different cultures.
It was a lot of fun, but certainly not all play. I was able to work with clients on two different films that were shooting internationally, finish the (intense) edits on our third Beauty Detox Book, create a 30-Day Meal Plan (which we are launching soon!), run and manage Glow Bio from afar, work daily on our blog here, new exciting, and helpful products…and learn daily, from teachers everywhere, including my wonderful Ayurvedic teacher in London, several fantastic instructors during a two-week cooking/food intensive in Thailand, some perspective-changing herbalists in Korea and many, many more.
We started in the Italian Alps, then were in South Korea for two and a half weeks, then I was in Thailand for two weeks while John went straight to London. I met him there as our base from May onwards, and we took trips to Turkey, Greece, Rome, Scotland, Ireland, Paris, Amsterdam, Portugal and some road trips around England.
I feel now almost like I’m in the Shivasana of the trip. New York last week was incredibly hectic (how NY always is!), but now I’m rooted back in LA for a little while. One of the visible, tangible outward shifts I’ve made from the trip is the rhythm of my days. I am carving out more space in this modern world to live my yogi life, and also be responsible for my many daily duties as a householder and passionate wellness and heart warrior in the world!
Witnessing the mysterious Whirling Dervishes firsthand.
That means for me, shifting to going to bed much earlier than I have in the past, between 9:30-10:30, and getting up before or around sunrise, to do my asana practice then have more time for my Kriya yoga meditation practice. We all have to be really selective with our time, otherwise you’ll feel you don’t get to do things that are important to you in the whirlwind of the day.
I truly treasure self-practice at home, which I find authentic and nourishing. And the time I would spend getting to the yoga studio, getting back, and getting there a bit early to put down my mat, is all time I would rather spend meditating. We all only have so much time in the day! So it is a conscious choice I’ve made. I will go occasionally to some classes, for teachers I love and teacher friends, but it will not be part of my daily routine.
As far as the trip, processing all the myriad of experiences from these wonderful countries will take some time. I feel like all that happened in Rwanda, when we were there with Gardens for Health International and the gorillas in December, is still very much on my mind and getting processed as well.
Cooking school in Thailand- adopting Beauty Detox to it!
Palaces in Korea…so gorgeous.
Mama Ki, a very interesting tea and herb specialist in Korea.
I got a lot of questions about how I was able to eat Beauty Detox in some countries, and what it was like for me to be there overall, so I thought I would break it down into a little list:
Easiest place to eat Beauty Detox:
Greece and Turkey! (both heaven!).
Greece had fava (lentils), great salad, horta (wild greens), cooked beets, some great fruit, and amazing olives. Turkey always had a large vegetable-only menu section of every menu, including veggie and mushroom casseroles, and also had great salads. Loved the big markets with mulberries, dates, figs, walnuts, almonds and spices.
Thailand has amazing fresh fruit and coconuts, which I would feast on in the streets daily. My cooking classes were just awesome, experimenting with the vast range of vegetables and herbs native to Thailand. But I could only eat at certain restaurants that would accommodate my no fish sauce/sugar requests, which was totally fine because I don’t mind eating at the same places!
More difficult to eat Beauty Detox:
Northern Italy: It was more difficult to get larger salads and pure vegetable soups to fill up on, in little towns where many did not speak English and they are used to including meat and dairy in many meals. I didn’t want to eat too much gluten, ie pasta all the time, which is what they thought was an appropriate vegetarian option. The grocery stores had mache and some veggies, but not a big variety, and things like avocados where very difficult to find where we were. I managed though.
Korea: Fish sauce is ubiquitous in a lot of the kimchi there, and there are anchovies stewed into the broth of even the doenjang jjigae, which is a bean stew. The fruit was outrageously expensive. A smaller bunch of bananas in Seoul was around $11. We were in a hotel room so I couldn’t cook, and I found some almond milk, but it tasted like pure sugar! Still, we found some great temple food and Korean vegan restaurants that were delicious, and we stuck with those.
Best city for biking:
Favorite Museums: London. I’m partial to the Victoria and Albert and I love the British Museum (even though the discussion about where some of those relics, such as the sculptures from the Parthenon, should be housed, is very interesting).
New countries I’d never been I want to see more of:
Well everywhere really…but here’s what first popped into my mind:
Turkey: Wow! One of my favorite experiences of the whole trip was watching the mysterious Whirling Dervishes. Simply amazing. Turkey has a lot of mythical and ancient elements, there is a lot of magic in the air. I’d like to go to the eastern regions and explore a lot more.
Portugal: What a breath of fresh (relaxed!) air. I’ve been to Spain many times, and I like it too, there is a lot of passion in the people. But I found Portugal very laid-pack, and the people very kind, warm and accommodating. So sweet. I loved the nature there–seas and rocks on the coast, a mix of trees. Next time we go I want to drive across the whole country.
Scotland: Well it’s not new for me…but my husband John had never been there. We absolutely LOVE Scotland. I feel a strong heart connection there, as I’m actually nearly a quarter Scots-Irish. The land is so lush, and the earth resonates with its beauty and full power. While hiking, I just wanted to touch the earth and pop up into a spontaneous handstand or put my heart right on the earth in Anahatasana.
Canal central a la Amsterdam!
Country that inspires me to go to bed early and be up early:
London/the UK in general. There’s a vibrant night life in London, but there’s also a traditional aspect where people tend to meet at the pub earlier and it seems to shut down earlier in general, especially where we were living, in Richmond. I loved it. We were next to Kew Gardens, and every day I was inspired to get up early, do yoga and get on with a beautiful day! I am very thankful for the gorgeous summer weather we had in London as well (which I know is not always the case!).
Country that inspired me to go to bed later (but still up early!):
Turkey. There was so much going on at night! John and I would walk around after dinner, sometimes up until midnight, and there would be groups of people playing cards in the street or drinking coffee and hanging out, cafes open and vibrant, lots of the corn and kestane (chestnut) sellers, still wheeling around….plus it was so mysterious to see the thousands of birds (at first I thought they were bats but they weren’t) flying around the tops of the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia, the huge cathedral converted into a mosque, and the other ancient structures, lit so magnificently at night. It still gives me goosebumps thinking of it.
Oh London…thank you for providing us with such a beautiful nesting home all these past months!
Floating market, Thailand.
John met me later in the day at this temple, and caught this moment. A lot of introspection, a lot of writing, a lot of reflection, a lot of learning on this entire journey. I am very, VERY grateful to have had the space to create this time, in the midst of everything, and while all the “work” was also going on.
I found amazing people everywhere, but I do love the smiley, warm-hearted Thai people, and the Irish and Scots display legendary kindness and gentility.
Place where I learned the most:
Everywhere! But I did learn a lot about the culture and history of Korea being there for nearly a month. I have spent a few months in China and a few weeks in Japan, but I had never learned about Korea so much. There is a beauty and depth to their philosophy on life, teas and food, and I am so grateful to take it all in.
London…but also because I was there the most of all the countries. We joined this walking tour group, and whenever I had a few free hours, I would do historical walks of different parts of the city. It made me think about the course of history there and how it influences the energy of the people there up until today, and in a wider context how this plays out in every country. I also had my Ayurvedic teacher there, and Kew Gardens next door, which is a thriving scientific research center as well as botanical gardens. They have a lot of special exhibits on medicinal plants and the healing properties of certain plants, and I really loved spending time there, with the trees and nature.
Our hotel window view in Valle D’Aosta, Nothern Italy.
So lucky! There for the cherry blossom festival in Korea! Thousands and thousands of blossoms everywhere in the city.
Most romantic city:
I take Rome over Paris…but maybe that is because it was the first time I had been to Rome (many times to Italy, first time Rome!) and I was there with John. I love the open nature of the Italians, the open piazzas, the architecture, and it was much easier to eat there in the north!
But we had a great time this year in Paris (we were able to go there last year also, for the European book launch of The Beauty Detox Foods).
Ruins in Northern Italy.
I love the alleyways that you find in Italy and many other European countries.
I hope you enjoyed this visual journey as well as some of my personal thoughts. Of course, the learnings from the trip will be continued to be shared with you through the blogs and other offerings over the next few months and years!
I find the learning of these experiences profound, and I honor them and look forward to sharing more and more with you through all our offerings and communications.