I met a wonderful woman in my most recent travels to Bali.
She was in Indonesia because her brother had just passed away. Her brother took his life because of a painful breakup and rejection of a young woman he had fallen in love with.
I was in Indonesia because I had fallen in love with Bali and maybe…to have been there for her during one of the most painful times in her life. As we spoke about grief and loss, our affection for each other began to grow.
At that time, we were living with rose-tinted glasses, like lovebirds without a care in the world. Time was on our side and the world was filled with promise and possibilities. It was pre-pandemic, pre-Corona times in early 2020.
Only when we both left Indonesia, did we realize that there may be something there more than a passing interest in each other. We both valued simplicity, spirituality, and living closer to our families. We both were from the East but living in the West. We both had experienced profound loss and heartbreak. We both had been divorced.
As she returned to Europe and got back to work, I stayed back a little longer in Asia. My plan was to head back to India for the spiritual experiences and cheaper cost of living. I wanted to go back to Kerala to spend more time with a Swami I had met late last year.
When I was visiting Malaysia where my family lives and is originally from, I found myself in the worldwide lockdown and shutdown during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020.
Initially, the distance was wonderful to allow love to bloom. We had plenty of time for video calls, twice daily Whatsapp calls and lots of love-filled texts throughout the day. We would be together soon, we both kept telling ourselves and each other. In the meantime, all I could do was keep sending my love virtually and local chocolate cupcake delivery through the internet.
We celebrated our one month anniversary which became 3 months and most recently, became 6 months. While our love for each other has grown over time, our optimism about being able to see each other hasn’t.
With each passing month and with more countries tightening restrictions and making it virtually impossible to travel, I wonder if and when I can ever get to Europe to see her.
To top it all off, I have an American passport which means I can literally travel to 15 countries and most of these countries aren’t in Europe. Asia and Europe has pretty much stopped Americans from traveling to their countries so I’m stuck at the moment.
I happen to be in the one country that I can be in the moment, Singapore, with very few places to go. I ended up here by a fluke and through an odd exception. Most of Europe is out of the question for someone with an American passport so I have no idea what to do next.
This pandemic feels like our generation’s world war. We are living apart in different countries around the world unable to travel, not because of any enemy threat, but a viral one. We are not able to see each other, be with each other, or love each other.
We are not alone in this struggle either. Plenty of couples around the world have been separated due to the virus. In fact, there’s been a movement to help unmarried couples reunite, with its own set of hashtags #lovenottourism #loveisessential. You can read more about it here.
Organizers are trying to remind the European Union that couples are not visiting each other because of tourism but because they are in a relationship with each other. There have been some successes as you can see in this article but not all countries are allowing for an unmarried couples visa. Even if they are allowing you in, each country has varied requirements about what’s sufficient for couples to meet each other.
This is a fascinating time for someone who used to practice US immigration law, where I helped reunite hundreds of fiances and spouses. I never thought that I would be on the other side of the immigration system, trying to unite with a loved one. I also never imagined a day would come that the U.S. passport would limit the countries I can travel to but here we are.
The travel restrictions have brought us closer together as distance does make the heart grow fonder, but also making us question if this relationship is viable. Can a couple be together if they are not physically able to be together? Should we keep trying? Should we keep waiting? Should we meet other people? Should we move on?
Right now, we are choosing to stick together and see what laws change and how soon. We are choosing to stick together because we know how hard it is to find relationships and people who are compatible with each other . It’s no easy task to find someone you get along easily with. It’s not easy to find someone with your shared values and the same outlook on life.
Life seems a little unfair at the moment. On one had, I met the person of my dreams. On the other, a worldwide pandemic is keeping us apart. Were we just a passing fancy that will remain memories in each other’s hearts or will we get together soon and live happily ever after?
I’m not sure what the answer is but I will keep you posted. In the meantime, if you have any thoughts or travel strategies, please do feel free to share.
Also, everything that I did to attract and find this person in my life can be found in this book that I wrote a few years back. Pick up Does True Love Exist today (affiliate link).
The culture, the traditions, the monks, the peacefulness of rural life and the busy-ness of city life.
After a recent trip to Myanmar (formerly Burma), I was swept away by the friendly people, colorful scenery and stunning pagodas. I can’t wait to return.
Here’s some photos from the trip I wanted to share with you of the friendly (and happy) people of Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and other Burmese cities.
Peace from Myanmar A delicious bite Don’t worry, be happy. Irrawady river boat captain A monk in meditation In deep thought Young monks in prayer An afternoon stroll In deep concentration Smile! Afternoon snacks Lunch time A good read In traditional clothing
A protective guard “I’ll give you a good price…” Early morning vegetable market
The summer of travel continues. I found myself in India this past month and visited the beautiful state of Karnataka, where the weather was cool and the people, even cooler.
One of the main highlights for me was visiting, the Murudeshwar temple, where I ran into 12o foot statute of Lord Shiva, sitting at the edge of the Arabian sea. It’s the second largest Shiva statute in the world and is as breathtaking as it appears in these first couple photos.
A nearby elevator allows you to go upto Shiva’s heights to catch a spectacular view of Shiva and the nearby town. This statute of Shiva reminds us of his mythological awe, power, strength and prominence in Hindu religion and traditions.
In addition to the Shiva statute, there is a temple below devotees can visit, with a mighty tall 20-story temple tower (gopura) that appears to disappear into the sky.
This temple does justice to Krishna’s role and influence in the Hindu faith. The walk up the temple (it’s a bit of long one) chanting Krishna’s name is sure to invigorate and inspire any Krishna devotee. You’ll certainly feel Krishna’s presence and blessings, being on the temple grounds.
Finally, one of my personal new favorite places in the world is this church in the City of Bangalore – the Infant Jesus Church. This is a church inspired by the Infant Jesus shrine in Prague. Visited by people all over Karnataka and India, it’s become a pilgrimage site for many devotees. I found my visit to be peaceful, inspiring and filled with blessings. The message during Mass was down to earth and the music, heavenly.
Hope you enjoyed the photos and hope you’re having an enjoyable summer as well! If you enjoyed the photos, please share these photos with anyone you think might enjoy seeing them. Thank you.
Yes, I’m spending the summer in Malaysia and Singapore – traveling, writing and hitting up the local hot spots. And by that, I mean some local churches, temples and shrines. A little bit like the church hopping I recommended once.
I did mention my travel plans, right?
If you didn’t hear about it from me, you’re probably not on my mailing list. That’s where I share additional insights and tell you what I’m up to. Some of the people who read this blog, tell me that the funniest stuff comes out on email.
If you’re not the mailing list, sign up on the right hand side of the blog, under the Get Enlightened section. You’ll only get information designed to help you live a more purposeful and meaningful life.
Anyway, I wanted to share with you some of the travel photos of my favorite sanctuaries in the area for your next travel adventure or vacation. Enjoy!
One of the first places I visited here was St. Andrews Cathedral in Singapore. It’s the country’s largest cathedral and celebrated it’s 150th anniversary in 2006. The breath-taking architecture makes this a wonderful place to check out.
In Penang, a must see is Nattukotai Chettiar Thendayuthapani Temple which celebrates the Hindu God, Murugan. While you can visit this temple any time of the year, it is most prominent during the Thaipusam festival held in January or February every year.
Another spot to check out in the state of Penang is the oldest Angelican church in Southeast Asia, St. George’s Church. The church was built in 1816 and has had several restorations since that time. Malaysia has declared this church a national treasure and and this church plays an important role in Penang’s history and heritage.
Finally, the Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram Buddhist temple is awesome! The third largest sleeping Buddha statue in the world can be found in this temple. In addition to the sleeping Buddha, you’ll find many beautiful statutes and artwork throughout this colorful Buddhist temple.
Well, that’s it for now. I hope to keep writing and updating you while traveling. Again, get updates only subscribers receive by signing up on the top right hand corner of the page.
Jammie Karlman is married to a man I refer to as the James Bond of blogging and travel, Bjorn. This international couple of mystery, salsa-dancing and helping others are chronicling their travels on both their blogs which are updated regularly.
This international duo quit their jobs in California to travel around the world for a year doing service projects. Their plan is to spend 3 months in 4 world cities: Bangkok, Thailand; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Berlin, Germany; and Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India. (They call it the B Tour.) This trip has been a dream of theirs for five years. It’s really an experiment in lifestyle redesign. An international life of do-gooding and adventure is what they want for the long-term. (That, and tasty food.)
Take it away, Jammie!
Right now, we are in Buenos Aires and have just come to the end of our fifth month of travel. The food, so far, has indeed been mind-numbingly delicious. Other experiences (e.g. humidity, taxi drivers that scam you) have been decidedly less so.
But that’s travel for ya — constantly surprising.
Through the ups-and-downs of our experiences, here are 5 things I discovered that (usually) hold true:
1.) You can live with half the stuff you have now. Take the remainder, halve it again and you’re left with what you actually use.
You need less than you think. When my husband and I decided to go on this trip, we got rid of 80-90% of our stuff. And now I can’t remember what most of that stuff was. What does remain is the memory that it was heart- and back-breaking work. A LOT of work.
And here’s the kicker: As we travel, I find I still packed too much. I actually have clothes and shoes sitting in the closet right now that I barely use. This is some kind of craziness to me, especially as I was that girl who had so many clothes she could go a month without wearing the same item twice.
But this is not a rant against consumerism and materialism. I still like pretty clothes, shoes and tchotchkes. But the experience of throwing out nearly everything we owned has made me leery of having too many possessions.
2.) Starting a new life doesn’t mean old problems disappear.
I can honestly say that I am living the life that I want and that I am happy. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have pangs of insecurity and doubt about what I am doing or encounter difficulties with my character development. Just because I am traveling the world does not mean I left my baggage behind.
I had thought that by going on this trip, certain problems would resolve themselves. After all, I would no longer have to deal with particular annoying people. I would have more time to keep in contact with family and friends.
But halfway around the world from where I was, I am still having problems with people and keeping connected. How is it possible that almost all of the taxi drivers I encounter have cheated me or tried? I would like to blame all taxi drivers as being fraudulent, but I know that can not be true. If a problem is that recurrent and pervasive, it must mean that there is something I am doing that contributes to the problem. (Perhaps I lack assertiveness? Or is it self-fulfilling prophecy — I expect to be scammed and therefore I am?)
And I am STILL missing and forgetting people’s birthdays!
My real problem, I realize, is that I had wrongly ascribed the origins of my troubles to external sources (e.g. other people, overbearing schedule, etc.) when really they were internal. It’s always easier to blame “the other guy” when really you need to take a long, hard look at yourself.
3.) Traveling makes it easier to take a long, hard look at yourself.
Aside from questions of how much time I will spend on service projects and devote to sleep, I have a pretty open schedule (I ain’t gonna lie: It’s pretty awesome.) I have found that the break from the rigors and structures of a normal 8-10 hour job has created more space for me; space that I fill dissecting events/experiences that disturbed me. I can’t as easily push these thoughts away; I don’t have the same distractions.
Usually, these events are so disturbing because they reveal something disturbing about me. For example, I recently blamed a taxi driver for a fast meter. I forced him to stop and made my husband and friends jump out of the cab. Turns out that all meters in Buenos Aires cabs go faster at night and that my accusations were unfounded.
Aside from feeling embarrassed, I was mystified about why I had such a violent reaction. Instead of dismissing it with the rationalization that “most cab drivers are jerks anyway” and/or avoiding dealing with it, I thought about the experience which eventually led to the conclusions mentioned in #2 about taxi drivers, and some strategies that I will employ next time.
4.) Traveling makes it easier to change
Aside from occasional visits from family and friends, Bjorn and I have been on our own. I am freed from the expectations of others who “know” me and how they think I should deal with problems or act. I no longer have to deal with what others think I should do or perceptions of what “Jammie would do” by what I have done in the past.
I can reinvent myself.
That makes it easier to attack character flaws from a new direction, to do things that you normally wouldn’t have. Just like a kid moving to a new school can reinvent themselves from shy to fly (yes, I did just use dated slang from the ‘90s) the same holds true with traveling.
Plus, I don’t feel “rushed.” I don’t feel the need to have changed and improved myself by the next time I meet with someone. It’s been a more forgiving process.
5.) You should just do it.
No, not just travel. What I’m getting at (besides possibly incurring the wrath of Nike) is that I have found it is better to take action toward a goal. As mentioned above, my husband and I had been dreaming about this trip for 5 years.
Five years of thwarted longing is not only torturous to the soul, but also enough time to build up insecurity, doubt and fear as obstacles to this trip for another 5 years (10? 15? 20…you get my point). It is better to take charge and take action for what you want. Now.
And here’s the crucially important (at least for me) part: You don’t have to be without fear to do it.
I found a definition of courage that I really like: “the ability to do something that frightens one.”
Notice it does not say that you stop being frightened— but you can do it, nonetheless. I freaked out (read: ran around a room screaming while wind-milling my arms — many times) before we even began this trip. But not even two weeks into our trip, I realized it was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made — aside from choosing Bjorn as my husband, of course (Awwww! Hugs, kisses, sweetness, gags. :D)
Now when I get tingles of anxiety about doing something, it’s usually a sure sign that I should do it. Even if mistakes are made. Actually, that should just read: Mistakes will be made. The journey toward the life you want is not a straight line but a series of readjustments.
In a way, that makes change comforting, instead of frightening to me. Even if the actions you take don’t lead exactly where you want, you can always stop and correct course (unless those previous actions lead to death. Please plan your actions carefully and wisely and avoid most things that are illegal, immoral and fattening.)
Who can know what the future will hold? But as for me, I’m looking forward to what I’ll learn in the next five months.
What exciting places you been to? And what have you learned from your travel experiences?
You can read Jammie’s entertaining and informative travel blog here: Go Karlmans.
Hi, I’m Vishnu
I help people overcome their devastating breakups and divorces and find love again. Instead of visiting the Himalayas, sign up below and join me. I am taking a writing break but will be back soon.
This guide is free. A ticket to the Himalayas is $2000. Your move.