Winter Flashbacks

December 30th, 2012 – Salish Sea, British Columbia

It’s cold here. Tired and seeking warmth, I close my eyes and fade away into my mind for memories of the past year. Here’s a bit of what I uncovered in my head when I was listening to this song…

Inspired by Noah Cohen’s 2012 Innersection entry.

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Arrival in Bangkok

(this video is also a tribute to this one)

Bangkok. Haven’t been here since I was a wide-eyed teenager 7 years ago. Back then, my friends and I barely strayed from Khao San Road. This time, I’ve got maps. The city of 8 million is coming of age, newer, brighter, flashier, with new mass transit systems and plenty more skyscrapers. After the gawking stares of Bangladesh, the warm smiles of the Thai people are refreshing. They accept me and countless other farangs for all that we are.

There’s so much to see and do here:  temples and tailors, clothing and cockfights, markets and muay thai, monks and motorbikes, khao san and kathoeys, grand palace and golden wats, chinatown and little india. Historic neighbourhoods to get lost wandering in, canals to cruise along during sunset, the list goes on…

From pad thai to ping pong shows, welcome to Bangkok.

Land of the Lines

Video and words by a friend, Georgie TTT whom I met at the end of his annual 6-month stay on Bali/Sumbawa. Really sums up how we all feel upon leaving this place.

The Luckiest Boys In the World

We come from everywhere; Brazil, Hawaii, Australia, Tahiti, France, England, Spain, Africa, you name it. Like the lost boys of Peter Pan we live on an enchanted island surrounded by magic, steeped in the mystical at every turn.

And danger, yes. The corrupt Cops our Captain Hook; the massive swells, the sharp reefs, sweeping currents, tropical disease, relentless heat and deadly animals. Our lives a mélange of languages, mixed blood, exotic scents, monsoons and perfect swell.

We breathe in the belonging of a place that will never belong to us. This has been our home and the magic has been imprinted on our souls. Can we ever go back to normal life?

Version 1:

Version 2:


Far from Home.

“We’re far from St. Bruno right now…”

If the scene isn’t forever etched in my memory, then the feeling sure will be.

We avoid the garbage and puddles, before stepping out into the oncoming traffic. It’s something I’ve learnt to do without hesitation by now: the crossing of a busy asian street. The trick is to just walk slowly and confidently and let the river of smoky, puttering scooters and bemos flow around you.

We dodge the traffic mêlée without incident. The smells of the central market hang in the hot, humid air, overpowering the smell of street garbage and exhaust fumes that is ever-present in SouthEastAsia. The haunting sound of the dhuhr adhan (the muslim midday call for prayer) drifts from some unseen loudspeakers high above the scene; it adds a sort of calmness and timelessness that blankets the car horns and bustling activity below. Buildings built in the traditional Minangkabao (West Sumatran) style of rumah gadang (upsweeping roofs symbolizing bull horns) dominate the low skyline at the market entrance, some still damaged from a shattering 7.6 magnitude earthquake 2 years ago.

We’re in Padang: a port city on the South-West coast of Sumatra. We’ve come to the central market – a place where you can find just about anything – to buy a machète (to be used for cutting open coconuts… but we’ll get to that another time) and other assorted supplies. There’s nothing out on the islands, everything we’ll need to bring.

“I’m filled with a familiar feeling – a feeling I’ll never forget…  It is the true feeling of adventure – that anything is possible – and it never ceases to excite me to the point of bursting.”

The colourful stalls of the market appear and we are swallowed by the bustle of activity – vendors, horse-drawn carriages, fruit stalls, fake watches…

I soak it all in. I’m filled with a familiar feeling – a feeling I’ll never forget. It’s the same feeling I had 6 years ago when I first stepped off the rickety tin plane into Laos. The feeling that returned when I stepped off the plane in Kuala Lumpur this past May, and the humidity and smells of Asia first hit you. It is the true feeling of adventure – that anything is possible – and it never ceases to excite me to the point of bursting.

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The dugout boat is tippy: it’s full of all our gear, construction supplies and 8 people (us, a local family and our new Indo friend Sironi). The puttery outboard steers off the muddy river into a narrow side channel. As we glide through the muddy backwaters of the Mentawai jungle, Phil turns to me: “Dude, we’re out there…”

My heart is filled with excitement.

venturing to Nyang Nyang in the Mentawai Islands, Indian Ocean


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Wanderlust

 

February, 2011 

“One day I hope to say that I’ve seen the world. But that day is not here yet.” –Scott Wilson, Departures, Season 2

Growing up, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by an extensive National Geographic collection. Like any kid, I particularily I loved the photos of exotic cultures, fauna and flora, etc. I could sit there and stare at an atlas for hours, memorizing the names of exotic lands and imagining adventures in these far flung places.

A brief sabbatical to SouthEast Asia a half decade ago did little to slake the thirst for adventure, simply whetting my palette for travel and ever since, I’ve been chomping at the bit to head out again. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the ancestors whose blood runs through my veins are the ones who coined the term Wanderlust; Perhaps their spirits and echoes are that which tickles my feet.

Regardless, the past few years have seen me spatially trapped by other responsibilities

and activities whose time and place was at the fore, but which have now come to fruition. It’s time. Time to move on, time to head out, time to stop being surrounded by the day dreams and pictures and Youtube videos as vicarious stand-ins. It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve been able to put myself in a position which will allow me to once again head out for a good long ‘walkabout‘.


“Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.” -Henry David Thoreau

It’s Tuesday and I am boarding the China Eastern Airlines plane to Shanghai, and begin my life as an expat. Mixed emotions of excitement, nostalgia, sadness and fear and something which can only appropriately be described as… stoke. It’s gonna be an adventure.

So to all my friends, wherever you may find yourself in life and on the planet, I invite you to join me in this adventure, whether here or in person. Stay tuned!

When we take a long imagined dream, formerly relegated to our thoughts, and breathe it into life… at first it’s hard to compute….. At first.