By Leona Thomas
My choice of fancy hotel for my first Himalayan Christmas had not been successful so, of course, the trekking agency now took over.
The office manager announced, "I'll take you to Hotel Radisson."
Unfortunately, he decided I should ride on the back of his motorbike. There was little room for me to sit as his bike was old and had a bar at the back of my seat. And I was wearing a fancy tight skirt.
There was no way I could sit comfortably. I had to ride side saddle and cling on to him for dear life
It is warm in Kathmandu during the day in December but when you are traveling on a motorbike it is a chilly experience. My see-through lacy sleeves were no help in keeping me warm!
Luckily, this Lazimpat hotel was a short ride away. I dismounted and eagerly entered this second hotel.
But there wasn't much sign of Christmas in the lobby. From a distance the restaurant seemed not to be offering any Christmas fare. I was simultaneously wrong and right! The Nepali style Christmas was about to reveal itself...
I joined a line of about 10 people. All was well until an old man near the front of the line started shouting,
"I want turkey!"
He stamped his feet like a petulant child.
"I WANT TURKEY!"
'Definitely not British...' I thought.
We're too polite to shout in public in a foreign country. The British way is to politely seethe behind a pleasant happy face.
I soon discovered there was something to seethe about, although it wasn't the food.
Having already managed to arrive at one 5-star hotel and check in my little bag... only to discover they were closed and on strike... I was impressed that Hotel Radisson had any food at all!
When I finally arrived at the front of our line I discovered the problem. Our Christmas turkey was actually some kind of sausage meat lump covered in thin slices of cooked chicken.
I didn't have the energy to demand turkey loud enough that the folks back in the UK would have heard me and taken pity and sent a food parcel...
Instead, my British reserve allowed silent resignation to settle inside me.
With slices of the sausage meat and chicken lump nicely displayed on my plate, I then discovered the next part of the meal was more challenging. There were covered silver platters but when I lifted the lids I discovered an assortment of curries!
'But at least I have food' I thought and sat alone at a table.
Then it all went downhill fast.
Father Christmas (Santa) arrived!
I don't know what happened to old shouting man. Maybe he had already collapsed in a disappointed heap in one of the corners of the restaurant. I don't believe he would just sit meekly with this latest development but maybe Nepal had finally defeated him....
In the lobby, a very skinny Nepali man was dressed in a red Father Christmas (Santa) outfit, complete with a white beard. He had a huge pillow stuffed down the front of his outfit.
But that was ok.
I could have coped if it was just his costume...
The problem was that he also had a bell.
And it was big. He walked up and down that lobby vigorously ringing his puja bell, all the while yelling, "HO! HO! HO! Merry Christmas!"
It went on for so long that I began muttering under my breath. British reserve be damned! I was scowling and being sarcastic at my table for one.
I begged all the Gods (the Christian one and all 3,000,000 Hindu Gods too) to please find him a little child from somewhere. Surely then he would sit down and stop ringing that bell?
Alas, there were no children wanting to hug Santa. After all, lunchtime on Christmas day is too late to tell Santa you've been a good girl. Everybody knows he comes down the chimney with his presents on Christmas Eve!
My first Christmas in Nepal turned out to be an unforgettable experience and not a brussel sprout to be found anywhere in Kathmandu!
I never did get any Nepali Christmas Cake but a friend in the UK sent a small Christmas parcel by UPS so I did have Tesco Christmas Cake at the office later that same day...
By Leona Thomas
My first Christmas in Kathmandu was as a newly arrived tourist, so I had yet to learn that life in the (then) Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal was nothing like being in a Western country.
No matter how hard they try to do Christmas, somehow, they never quite get it right. After all these years I now suspect they gave up trying years ago!
I had looked through all the fancy adverts in the two English language newspapers in Kathmandu and had chosen The Yak and Yeti Hotel because of its promise of home-made Christmas cake.
Despite the unseasonable warm weather, I was still in full Christmas mindset so when the big day arrived I put on my best clothes and even applied a little makeup to my face. I had an invitation for a motorbike ride after lunch so I was carrying a small day pack filled with warmer everyday clothes too.
The taxi rattled its way to the entrance of the hotel and drove off the moment I was standing on the pavement. A concierge showed me where to go and, upon entering the building I discovered a check-in desk.
It seemed like a good idea to give my day pack to the man rather than sit with it on the floor by my table. This was Christmas Day, so I wanted to do things properly...
The man took my bag from me and put it in a cubby hole space on the shelf behind him. He logged me into his little book.
I looked around me as I waited for him to finish what he was doing. I saw 3 chefs dressed in modern white clothes with the tall white chef’s hat. It looked impressive.
When the man was ready, I asked where I should go for the Christmas dinner.
"There is no Christmas dinner," he replied.
I wasn't sure we had heard each other properly but then he added,
"The hotel is closed. We are on strike!"
My mind was reeling. Why did he take my bag if they are closed? Why did they even let me in the building?!
Then I saw a television crew filming for the news channel. This was obviously big news.
I left the building with my bag but there were no taxis waiting by the car park. The concierge sent a boy out to Durbar Marg to get a taxi for me. As we waited he explained that the hotel had been on strike for 2 days now and they had had to send all their customers to other 5-star hotels in the city.
At some point during this conversation the film crew showed up outside and began filming us. It crossed my mind that I would be seen on television by millions of Nepalis. Thank goodness I had dressed up for the occasion!
Finally, a taxi arrived and I sped towards the trekking office in Tredevi Marg.
"How was your Christmas dinner?"
"There wasn't one. The hotel is on strike."
The guys there refused to believe my story saying they hadn't heard anything about this. The managing director rang the hotel.
After a brief conversation he turned to me.
"You're right! " he exclaimed.
The staff set about deciding where I should now go for my Christmas dinner....
In Himalayan Christmas part 2.. A Christmas Surprise!
Did Leona get any Christmas dinner?
The surprises kept coming...!
By Leona Thomas
Everyday life can sometimes feel dull and boring so my Inner Child likes to play games and have some fun.
Magic is her number one favourite.
But we're not talking about Abracadabra or pulling a rabbit out of a hat. There is something more magical than that!
My Inner Child loves to play magic games with time. She knows that all the rules we live by were concocted a long time ago by people who didn’t have a smart phone or electric to charge a battery. And, as she knows the truth about time, she encourages me to play along with her.
The Magic Clock Game really collapses the rigid confines of time that we have accepted as truth.
And the game has to be played in Casablanca, Morocco. But don't worry if you've never been there. She's going to let you in on another secret later...
At Casa Voyageurs train station in Casablanca the clock tower has a problem. One of the clock faces appears to be broken. But, just as Harry Potter catches a train from Platform 9 3/4 but it doesn't exist in the human world, the broken clock at Casa Voyageurs holds a secret for those people who are clever enough to notice.
It is a splendid portal of potential and possibility and it is hiding right there in plain sight!
Take a look at the picture and you will begin to understand.
It's obvious, right?
The clock at the front is always saying the time is 14.45 (15 minutes to 3). It is accurate only two times in every 24-hour period.
The clock on the side is set 5 minutes fast to help passengers get to their trains with a little time to spare!
The game works like this.
When both clocks say the same time a magic portal is opened and it is as if all your Christmases come at once! You can know anything you need to know and you can tell God your dreams too.
And because the side clock is 5 minutes fast there is a 5 minute period between when the two clock faces look like they match and then when the time really does match (when the side clock shows 14.50 or 10 minutes to 3).
5 whole magical minutes of Anything Is Possible!
And the really great thing is that you can play the game wherever you are in the world. You don't really have to be in Casablanca. You just have to know about the Magic Clock that is in Casablanca.
When your local time hits 14.45 or 2.45 you know you just aligned with the Magic Clock in Casablanca. Make a wish! Make a prayer! Choose to believe something new or to have a fantastic new idea about your situation.
And remember there are many time zones on this planet. You'd be surprised just how many times 14.45 comes round in any 24-hour period!
Play The Magic Clock Game to ignite miracles in your life and if anyone asks you, "What time is it?" Tell them, "It's Magic O'Clock!"
By Leona Thomas
Whilst it is true that I have a super power - the ability to turn down the volume of the sound track playing all around me in the everyday theatre of life in Kathmandu - that magical city has a good sense of humour too and always manages to pull a surprise or two out of its hat when you least expect it!
The noise begins in Kathmandu at around 4am and adds layer after layer of sound tracks as each new element comes to life. By 8am the cacophony is in full swing and does not ease off until after 7pm when the micro buses stop running.
One day I was in my kitchen making a cup of tea when I heard a noise from the Lazimpat main road that was so astonishing I nearly dropped my drink!
For the first time ever I could hear something unbelievable in the middle of the afternoon in Kathmandu. Actually I would go so far as to say it was an impossible sound.
And yet there it was.
I came out on to the roof terrace and I switched off my super power. I decided to let in the full volume of Kathmandu.
Yet I could still hear the mysterious noise. I was flabbergasted.
What was it that stopped me in my tracks?
Well it wasn't a noise as such. It was the absence of noise...
In the middle of the afternoon at the busy noisy Lazimpat main road the only thing I could hear was the sound of silence!
Impossible AND unbelievable!
Yet my ears were not deceiving me.
I peered over the edge of my roof. My eyes had never seen anything like this at 5pm in Kathmandu!
The main road was empty!
A traffic policeman was stood in his usual place but all the vehicles had been forced off the main road and were wedged into the side roads leaving no space for anyone to pass.
What on earth was going on?
The silence was deafening.
Eventually a cavalcade raced down the centre of the empty main road.
I had seen government limousines in the past. But there were normally just 2 fancy cars and the police would radio each other along the route and pedestrians and cars would have to stop briefly to let them pass.
This empty street was a whole new game.
Now that Nepal had a Maoist Prime Minister there was money to be spent on looking fancy and important.
First came 6 motorbike policemen riding in pairs, in full dress uniform complete with white helmet and white gloves....
Then a series of cars preceded the Prime Minister's limousine. Behind them were more cars and finally a huge truck full of armed police!
Then the silence reasserted itself.
If I hadn't seen or heard it for myself I would never have believed anybody who told tales of silence on the busy streets of the capital. Yet here were Nepali motorists (apparently) patiently waiting silently for permission to continue their journeys.
Another cavalcade raced down the centre of the empty road. More fancy uniforms, more cars and a Nepali President on the move. Another truck full of armed police at the rear.
Then a street dog began running down the middle of the road and a policeman chased after him, blowing his whistle and waving his stick. The dog seemed to enjoy the space.
A final cavalcade raced through the Lazimpat neighbourhood. More white gloves and helmets, guns, cars, flags. And in the fancy limousine was the President of Sri Lanka.
Then a whistle from the traffic policeman and a frantic waving of arms signalled bemused drivers that they must unblock the side roads immediately and continue on their way...
It's a funny thing but you do get used to the noise in a busy Asian city. The silence was unsettling, like some terrible disaster had befallen the capital.
Luckily for us, within 5 minutes life in Lazimpat returned to normality. Chaos and cacophony reinstated themselves and were a welcome relief!
I reinstalled my Mute Mode super power and returned to my kitchen to make a fresh cup of tea...
By Leona Thomas
In 2010 I worked in the Nepali town of Damauli. Many ex Ghurkha soldiers live in the area so the cost of living is high. There are no taxis because most families have at least one car and several motorbikes.
It is super hot in Damauli in the summer. They say it's like having 3 suns in the sky. They're not kidding! It is not a good idea to walk far in the heat even with a parasol for shade...
But I was a visitor with no transport of my own so I was waiting for a ride.
When the school accountant arrived on his motorbike I began to look for my shoes. They had been outside the house because the culture does not allow anybody to wear outdoor shoes inside a house.
In fact, my shoes had been propped against the wall for about 2 weeks. As I went to put them on I remembered an incident from my time in Thailand.
I told the accountant how I had been volunteering at an animal rescue centre. We would ride the elephants into the jungle where we would leave them overnight and then we had to walk home.
It was a journey of many miles and I couldn't wear flip-flops because they hurt my feet... so I was carrying my shoes in a plastic bag.
One day I tipped my shoes onto the ground and was astonished to see a huge frog sitting in one of the shoes! He jumped out and escaped into the bushes...
The accountant and I were both laughing about the story but it didn't occur to me to check if there was anything hiding inside the Nepali shoes...
You see, back then I still was learning about how the universe communicates with me. My angels and guides were trying to get my attention but I was enchanted by the story so I missed the message.
We set off on the motorbike- down the dirt road, over the small bridge and then onto a tarmac road climbing steeply up the hill... it was slow work with two adults on the bike. Nepali motorbikes are not very powerful. There are no Honda Goldwings or Harley Davidson's in Nepal...
All was well until we neared the top of the hill.
Suddenly I felt something wriggling around my toes inside the left shoe!
I yelled at the accountant to stop the bike and managed to get off safely despite the steep slope.
I tore at my shoelace, untying it as fast as I could. Then I yanked the shoe off my foot and bashed it hard on the floor.
A fat black beetle, about 1 inch long, fell out and then scurried off down the road.
I hope he was grateful for the ride. I must have saved him many footsteps. But if I had been paying proper attention to my guidance I could have left him at home in his own neighbourhood!
By Leona Thomas
When I realised in 2006 that my Spirit team wanted me to live in Kathmandu, Nepal I was horrified!
There were so many things about Kathmandu that were different from the life I was accustomed to in England - food, language, clothes, customs, religion, architecture, vehicles, driving habits... but the one thing that stood out for me the most was the noise!
I was sensitive to noise. How on earth would I cope with the cacophony from the streets of Kathmandu?
It turned out that I needn't have worried.
No, Spirit did not disengage every beeping horn or divert those vehicles down a different road (there would have been just a few bicycles in the street if they had done that!). They didn't nobble people's vehicles and neither did they offer bribes if these noisy Nepali drivers would kindly change their ways.
They had a much easier solution and it worked like a dream...
When I flew to Kathmandu on 8 January 2007 on a one-way ticket from Thailand they simply turned down the volume in my head!
I suppose you could compare it to playing a CD at full volume and deciding to turn it down so you could hardly hear anything.
I could hear conversations but I blocked out most of the background noise successfully.
To give you some perspective, my flat was on the top floor of a building right at the junction of the Lazimpat main road (opposite the Blue Moon supermarket and Hotel Gangjong) and a side road leading past the Danish embassy and into the main part of Lazimpat. So it was super busy.
One day a visiting friend stood on my roof terrace and she was horrified at the noise levels. "How can you stand it?" She asked. She was used to staying in the tourist hub at Thamel but my rooftop was a whole new nightmare for her!
Still, I was astonished to hear my friend's complaint. 'What noise?' I thought. So I turned off the mute setting in my head and listened to the real volume.
Good God! It was LOUD!
I calmly reinstalled Mute Mode and told her, "You get used to it!"
My mute setting was so efficient that I was walking home down the Lazimpat main road one afternoon when I became aware of a very quiet beeping sound way off in the distance somewhere behind me.
I was enjoying my walk, approaching the French embassy on the opposite side of the road. I noticed that I could still hear the very faint noise off in the distance somewhere far away.
Eventually I stopped walking and turned to see what was going on.
I was astonished to find a motorcycle right behind me on the pavement!
He had a legitimate reason to be there as it was the only way to get to a motorcycle repair shop just ahead of me. But what astonished me most was that my mute setting was that effective!
It turns out that I have a super power!
And I wouldn't go to Kathmandu without it!
By Leona Thomas
So many people I know talk about being in the flow but it can be frustrating when nothing seems to be working out right! If everything seems to be going against you, you might be wondering what does it mean to be in the flow?
Let me share something personal to illustrate being in the flow.
I had been praying and taking actions in my life yet things were definitely not going smoothly. It all came to a head after an overnight camp trip ended in disaster. I needed a hot shower and a good sleep by 11am. My body was aching and I could barely stand up but it was 6pm before I got my shower and bed for the night because I was mostly in charge.
Finally I gave up. I told my Angels they would have to do everything for me in my life now because I really couldn't do it my way anymore. I admitted that I just didn't know how to make things work and I gave in to complete surrender and handed over the reigns to my God.
Suddenly new things began happening.
I met people in hostels who wanted to pay me for healings or to do massage. It became easy to pay for my room. I was invited out for dinner again and again. People gave me things I needed even though I had told nobody about it.
When I was told at one hostel that I couldn't go there anymore, somebody else told me where I could get a private room and I had the cash for it too.
But that private room was too hot. So next time I got led to a much better private room with air conditioning and my own bathroom and a balcony!
Friends generously fed me, and supported me emotionally, and even stepped in to sponsor me for training for my work!
The synchronicities have been astonishing and very easy. Friends and strangers have stepped in to help when I need it so I now feel safe and provided for. People have let me borrow all kinds of things I need and have been so generous and kind.
I have discovered that the universe adjusts itself to match what I am asking for. Sometimes I pray formally and sometimes I just clearly state what I need to the universe...
For example, recently I had been camping because I needed to be alone in nature but after 2 consecutive nights on the land, sleeping on a mat, I told my God that my body couldn't take the cold. I said, "I need the nature but I also need to sleep on something soft."
The very next day a man asked me if I would take care of his house and his dog for 2 weeks because he had to leave to do his work. The house is in the heart of the hills so I am in amazing natural forest but without the camping!
Just today I was feeling upset about something and was sobbing.
It was time to pray on the mat. (I prayed and fasted for Ramadan this year and discovered that my heart wants me to continue to pray to Allah.)
I began the prayers and my crying got worse.
But Allah knows me and knew why I was upset.
As I stood with my hands on my heart speaking the opening prayer Allah showed me a vision. My crying stopped immediately and deep peace descended upon me. He showed me the same vision again and again during the prayer session. Now I have strength again.
Being in the flow is different for each of us, of course, because we have individual needs and desires. But when the universe responds quickly and efficiently to surprise and delight you, you can be sure you have found your flow!
By Leona Thomas
I woke up this morning knowing I needed to sleep in a good room with plenty of natural daylight, air conditioning and a balcony. Only room 104 would do.
I had asked yesterday about the room so I knew the occupant was checking out today. I also knew the hotel doesn't allow people to pre-book the room. They are allocated when you pay at reception.
Room 104 is the best single room here yet they are all the same price. I knew I must book early to get it but the cash was not yet in my bank.
What could I do?
To be truthful, anxiety was present although I knew it was not helping me to get the room.
So I prayed for help and I packed my stuff up. Something told me not to take my shower yet. Sure enough, 5 minutes later the cash had arrived in my bank account.
Downstairs at the check in desk things did not go quite according to plan.
The man at the desk told me that room 104 was already booked! Immediately in my head I said, "Angels help me please!" It was only 10.30am and check out is 12 noon, check in is 3pm.
I reminded him that the person was checking out today. Again in my head I asked the angels to help me.
"I promised the room to somebody else," he said.
"Have they paid already?"
"But you told me you cannot reserve a room for somebody before they pay. It is against the rules of this hotel."
"You want 104?"
"Yes. Do you want me to pay on my card?"
Finally he made the booking for me and took the payment from my debit card. I prefer to get cash from the ATM (bank machine) but I didn't trust him to keep my room for the 10 minutes it would take me to go get the cash!
So now it is 2pm and I am in room 104. It is one hour before official check in and I am in this room because I listened to my guidance and then I held focus on what I wanted. And I made sure to ask the Angels to help me too.
Today is definitely a Magic Monday!
I feel blessed.
By Leona Thomas
Sedona, Arizona 2008
The red rocks of Sedona are always calling to my soul but one day, as I walked from my friend's house, I heard a spirit voice announce, "There's someone waiting to meet you!"
I looked at the wall up ahead and wondered if something was lurking on the other side, a snake perhaps...
But no, I passed the wall without incident and continued towards the red rocks. I wondered if I had been mistaken.
But then a woman sprinted out of the parking lot and stopped in front of me. Her face was bright red and she was struggling to breathe. Although she was dressed for running she was clearly out of condition!
"My husband's in there!" She gasped and then she added, "My doctor says I'm not allowed to run!"
I began questioning her and discovered that they had been startled by a noise from the undergrowth and had assumed it was just a rabbit.
But it turned out to be an adult coyote.
She had managed to escape with her life but her husband was still back there somewhere and she was very worried for his safety.
I told her to never run away from an animal with 4 legs. They are always faster than us.
Then we watched as her husband casually strolled out of the car park and crossed over to where we were standing. He was unharmed and unhurried although presumably he had permission to run anywhere he liked!
The woman was very worried when I told her I was still going to go across to the red rocks. She grabbed my arm and said, "I hope we don't read about you in the newspaper tomorrow..."
I waved goodbye and began walking up the access road into the national park. There was nothing unusual happening.
Until suddenly a full grown adult coyote stepped out of the bushes on the left side of the service road and began to saunter across the road less than 10 metres ahead of me.
I was surprised and so excited that I forgot to stop walking!
I continued my steady pace forward.
When the coyote made it to the middle of the road he stopped and slowly turned his head to look at me. He remained in that position as I continued to close in on him... finally he moved his head to face forward again and continued walking slowly to the other side of the road and disappeared amongst the rocks and bushes.
"Oh my God! I just saw a wild coyote!" I spoke excitedly to myself.
Then, to my absolute amazement, I had a full deja vu moment as a second adult coyote stepped out from the shrubs at the left side of the road. By this time I was about 5 metres away and still walking forwards.
This second coyote sauntered across the road, stopped in the middle and turned its head slowly and just stood there watching me. I was getting very close now. I was just a few metres away and I began to feel a prickle of fear. But it didn't occur to me to stop walking!
Again, the second coyote eventually tired of watching me and turned his head again so he could see where he was going. He sauntered across the rest of the road and followed his friend into the bushes.
I didn't know if I should be scared of coyotes because we don't have them in England and they looked so strange that they reminded me of the characters Thingmy 1 and Thingmy 2 from the Cat In The Hat books! I have no idea why I didn't just stop walking and stay a safe distance away.
But I do believe that they came to meet me. I mean, one might have been a coincidence but two of them? Both behaving like that?!
The bigger question was:
"Why on earth did they want to meet me???"
I hope running lady wasn't disappointed to find no mention of me in her newspaper the next day.
It's a shame really... being eaten alive by a wild animal is quite commonplace but being casually inspected at close quarters by two wild animals, the second living out a full action replay of the first... Now that would have been an interesting news story!
By Leona Thomas
I successfully completed a 40-hour Vision Quest in Northern Ontario, Canada in 2005. It was my first experience of spiritual fasting and it had a profound effect through my being alone in nature for so long.
We were a group of 20 participants together on a wilderness island for a 10-day spiritual experience.
The Vision Quest challenged me most when we had to row across a very deep lake to reach the mainland. I don't swim well and am terrified of deep water after nearly drowning when I was 10 years old.
We all successfully arrived on the mainland and parked our canoes upside down as instructed. Then we split up. Nobody should be able to see each other once we got started for our Vision Quest.
Most people were apprehensive at the idea of being alone in nature with just themselves for company for 40 hours. But I love nature and I also enjoy being alone so I was fine.
Although we were not allowed to eat or drink anything for 40 hours I could see the shore of Lake Temagami and knew that I could get fresh water if I needed it.
I found my spot and made a circle out of stones. This would be my home for 40 hours. I would step out only to toilet.
I remember there was drumming from the island in the evening and I could hear the drum was speaking to me. Each drumbeat was a word. English was somehow being transmitted through that drum to me!
I also had made a little altar and my singing bowl was sitting on it.
Chipmunks made a lot of noise as they ran through the dead leaves. At night it always sounded louder...
On the second day I watched in amusement as a chipmunk ran full pelt towards my altar and then realised his mistake at the last moment. He managed to stop running but his front two feet were already on the cloth. Then he turned and ran back in the opposite direction!
Eventually the 40 hours were over. We heard the signal to pack up and go to our canoes
Unfortunately I could not leave immediately as one of the retreat organisers had asked me to make a ceremony for a broken object. Once the ritual was complete I packed and made my way to the canoe.
The ground was hilly and I was quite high up. I approached a short gully and had an instinct to throw my day pack across and then jump over after it.
I watched in horror as the bag hit the ground and began to roll. In just a few seconds it had gathered up speed and was bouncing down the hill!
I gave chase but there were tree roots and rocks everywhere so I had to be careful.
Finally the bag stopped about 1 metre from the edge of the lake. I caught up with it and stood looking back up the steep hill. I was cursing under my breath, complaining, 'Are you kidding me? Now I am going to be so late getting to the canoe!'
But, before I could take a single step to begin climbing back up that hill, I heard a voice from behind me
I turned around and found myself looking at my canoe!
My 2 friends had decided to come looking for me. And my Spirit team knew it. So they used the runaway bag to lead me to an easy rendezvous with the canoe at its new location!
Many wonderful things unfolded during that magical 10-day holiday but that runaway bag was a neat trick! Follow your guidance Even if it looks crazy because you never know what is coming next...