It’s not my proudest moment when I say that I’m a city girl.
I don’t like dirt, but it’s something you can’t avoid forever (something you can’t avoid ever, actually) at Hariharalaya. Dirt is omnipresent, on the soles of my feet — people walk barefoot indoors and outdoors, underneath my fingernails, and the constant film of soil or sand or clay on my skin.
I’m not exactly the biggest fan of bugs either. Let me rephrase. I hate bugs, and the mere thought of some of them is enough to give me goose bumps.
Although I’ve explored yoga more in the Philippines 3 months before I left for my trip, and had 1 meditation session at White Space, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about being surrounded by what in my head would be hardcore hippie yogis, compounded by being away from home, and not knowing anyone, and not really having internet access.
In spite of the presence of these discomforts, I really began to feel at quite at home on my second day, and as the days progressed, I grew even more and more comfortable with my surroundings, the people around me, and the constant self-discovery (with help from Chris Guillebeau’s $100 Startup). And while I still don’t really like bugs at all, I’ve learned to accept them, though often with a yelp.
Words, pictures or even VIDEOS cannot even begin to properly express the almost magical transformation that I feel has begun from this place. But I guess I can try.
[The Dharma room, a home aptly named for this chapter of my life]
We always, always had scrumptious food. It never felt like I was suffering on my vegan diet at all. In fact, it was an even bigger treat than many of my non-vegan meals back home. But of the many delicious meals I was able to partake of, mornings with coconut-peanut-banana-palm sugar vegan waffles were my favorite, even more so when paired with coconut-peanut smoothies. Oh my god.
[Stevie Necks & Punchdrunk Panda chillin’ at the library]
[Out by the yoga and meditation hut]
I have to admit, some of the yoga teachers I’ve had classes with in the Philippines may seem more technically knowledgeable, but I’ve had really good experiences with the yoga teachers here as well. I’m not sure if being surrounded by nature and having such a beautiful place to practice has made them that much more calming as guides, or made me that much more centered for the practice, but I loved my flowy yoga sessions with Magi and Rona, and fat-busting “shaolin yoga” with Yaz.
Watch this inspired video that I created for Hariharalaya after 1 week of staying there.
Hariharalaya Retreat Centre — Siem Reap, Cambodia from Jen Horn on Vimeo.
Life’s Wonderful Surprises
I had only intended on staying for one week, but I wound up staying for close to 2 weeks, and I couldn’t be happier about the decision to extend my stay because a lot more wonderful things happened as a result of staying longer (energy healing sessions with Danielle and Hanne, video interviews with the awesome solo female travelers I’ve met, more powerful meditation sessions, and simply going into the village market more often and discovering the cheap afternoon snack options :D).
[With yoga teacher Magi, healer and meditation teacher Danielle, all-around teacher and super geek Joel, yours truly, my Finnish mother/big sister Hanne]
[With Hanne and our lotus malas, shaolin ball of strength and energy Yaz, and Danielle]
I found it surprisingly easy to get comfortable there, and I might have stayed longer, but something told me it was time to continue on my journey, find more discomfort and break more personal walls.
Reconnect with your true self – that’s what the people at Hariharalaya hope you feel when you spend time there, and I feel that I connected not only with my true self, but with a family there, both in people form and awesome (and sometimes hair-raising) mother nature form.
P.S. Will be blogging more about the yummy vegan food, a cooking lesson, and some of the awesome people I met at the centre in upcoming posts! 🙂
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Hariharalaya Retreat Centre
Siem Reap, Cambodia