2018-A year of countless blessings- Vietnam, life in the city, teaching English, and natural beauties.

What a year! I literary cannot count my blessings, I can only be grateful for the incredible moments, be they tough or extraordinary! It was a year full of travelling, adapting, growing, learning, following, and leading. Also a year going deeper within with each step that I was making, with each decision that I was taking, and every relationship that I was going into.

Vietnam- Life in the city:

I got a job as an English teacher in Hanoi for a period of 6 months. This is where the adventure began. I took a 18 h flight from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the UK to Hanoi, Vietnam. This was the first time I was going to an Asian country, so I was quite excited. The reality of being in Vietnam is quite different from the expectations. Wait, I din’t have any expectations, but as I am saying the reality of daily life in Hanoi is quite extraordinary. All the smells, all the noise, all the motorbikes, all the unexpected things that can come your way from any direction. People stopping you on the street and wanting to take photos with you, as well as trying to practice their English, was indeed an overwhelming experience. One of the most impressive/culture shock things for me was how things, people, shops, restaurants, karaoke bars, shopping stalls, animals, motorbikes, cars, temples, etc., can be in such a close proximity to each other. On top of that, it was very interesting experience to walk long distances in the city, as there are no sidewalks. Therefore, one has to walk on the street with hundreds of motorbikes passing by literary on inches next to you- this is one of the moments when you realise how little you control in your environment, as a motorbike can hit you at any second. Here are some photos of the urban environment:

Vietnam- teaching English:

I don’t know how are children in other places, but one thing I realised about Vietnamese kids is that they are full of energy, so one has to quickly adapt to their pace, or else one can get overwhelmed really quickly and eventually burn out. Due to my lack of experience, I burned out literary on the first couple of days. I got really sick with high fever. Anyhow, due to my blessings and the kindness of my colleagues, I was able to overcome the disease in a few days. I had to adapt quickly to the kids and the most important thing that they taught me, was to actually go with the flow, as people say, and be responsive to what children like and dislike. The easiest way for me, I realised, was to adapt an accepting attitude, in the sense, that whatever was going on in the class, I would just accept and don’t try to change anything about it. It took me a little while to actually become practical in terms of this principle, but once I understood how to relate to the little humans, teaching became way way easier. Here are some photos of my colleagues and students:

Vietnam- Natural Beauties:

One thing is certain- Vietnam has one of the most beautiful landscapes and natural beauties that I have ever experienced and seen. Moreover, it is a country with beautiful beaches and coastal cities, such as Da Nang, UNESCO World Heritage sites, such as Ha Long Bay, caves and jungles, rice fields, mountains, lakes, and natural parks. Well, Vietnam has it all in plenty. Again, I was blessed to go hike, swim, travel, and drive in all of these natural sites. Life somehow becomes a gift at every step, when you travel so much, in so little time, and when you change your environment so many times.Every month, or every few weeks, when I could take a few days off, me and my friends,  would go on some adventure together, exploring and learning about this amazing country and culture. You can look at the photos below, just to get a taste of it all:

El Camino de Santiago…The One I should have written long time ago!

In August of 2016, I was blessed with the opportunity to walk the Strange Road to Santiago and Beyond! It was a walk to remember, a walk of letting go, of healing, and growing. For those of you who does not know what El Camino de Santiago is, I will quickly summarise.

The Camino, as is widely known at least in the English-speaking world, is a Catholic Pilgrimage path in the north of Spain. It starts from the Spanish-French border in the Pyrenees and it ends in the northwestern city of Santiago. It originated during the Middle Ages and since then millions of pilgrims have made their way to visit the cathedral in Santiago and of course pay their respects to St. James. The length of the Camino is about 800 km and around 200,000 people from each corner of the world walk it every year. Some people walk the Camino for spiritual/religious reasons (including me), others for cultural, historical, or recreational reasons. However, enough is enough; there are hundreds of books, videos, and various materials about the history of this magical path. So if you want to dive deeper in its history and cultural heritage, just go for it!


How long did you walk for?

My Camino started on the of 3rd August 2016. I made it to Santiago in 24 days, finishing on the 27th of August 2016. After that I walked another 3 days and more 90 km to Finisterre (the End of the World), which is located on the west coast of Spain. I would walk 20-30-40 km or 6-9 h per day. In total, I walked about 900 km for 30 days. It was very physically/mentally/ spiritually challenging experience.

How much did it cost you?

If we exclude the price of my flights from the UK to France and from Spain to the UK, the whole 30 days cost me about 1000 €. I would spent about 30 € per day on average. Sometimes less, sometimes more. This 30 € include my accommodation and food.

What would be the most memorable experience for you on the Camino?

This is a though one. I do not know where to begin from. There were so many memorable moments. However, I think one of the most memorable would be my last day on the Camino. After I finished the walking day I climbed up on a small hill, which overlooks the vast Ocean. There, I watched the Sunset with hundreds of other pilgrims. The Moon came on the horizon and with it millions of stars. One could see the Milky Way very clearly. Then, the magic happened!  Shooting star after shooting start, even a few at a time, started appearing out of nowhere. I could count about 30 for 1 hour. Then I gave up! I call this moment the Gift of the Camino. It is a gift, because I walked 900 km to this place and there I was granted with such a beautiful scenery by the Universe. It was also kind of humbling experience looking at the vast cosmos and the infinite worlds that are out there.

What people did you meet on the Camino?

I met every kind of people, all carrying their stories and troubles, joys and hopes, scars and pains. I met cancer survivors, who were walking the Camino, so they can prove to themselves that they were still alive. For them, every step, no matter how painful, meant they were still amongst the living. I met writers, filmmakers, and artists. I met people who have sold everything back home and have started their Caminos thousands of kilometres away. Some were walking for weeks form Belgium, from Denmark, from Germany, from Hungary. I met people from each continent. I met people who had walked from Rome to Santiago for 3 months (around 3000 km).

What did you learn on the Camino?

So many things, I do not know where to start from! Probably the biggest lessons of the Camino are to learn how to let go easily, live with less, find gratitude for what I had at each moment, trust the way, accept every step of the path, and cultivate some Love for God. In more general terms, the Camino taught me to dream big. It showed me how to speak with the forest. It taught me to love The Great Spirit. It taught me about the Spiritual Ego. It taught me to tolerate other, different people from me. It taught me how to be taken care of and how to take care of others. It gave birth to the New Me- the Gladiator. It inspired me to start this blog. It taught me patience. It showed me how to connect and start a conversation with anyone. It taught me how to overcome mental/spiritual/physical pain. It introduced me to my limits, so now I have new limits. It made me grow. It showed me how to lead a pack and how to be part of the pack. It showed me my ‘friends’ and my ‘enemies’. It showed me beauty. It made me wonder about the mysteries of life. It taught me some Spanish. It taught me how to forgive. It showed me grace. And many more lessons.

Would you recommend the Camino to others?

Definitely! I believe that If you want to know yourself, you have to be alone with yourself. You have to get out there, where each moment is a completely new experience. Only when you challenge your status quo of living, you will be able to understand YourSelf fully! The Camino gives you all these opportunities.