Friday, 23 November 2012

Lyon: Une Promenade Matinale

vendredi le 23 novembre, 2012; 18:35
emplacement: dining table, chez Dimouchy. Vourles, Lyon France
pourquoi: Because Anna asked why I haven't posted lately


I really love my traveling soulmate, the Amazing Anna. We are so connected because I was tinkering with a piece for my next post. I sat inside a café in Lyon with the goal of hashing it out but guess what distracted me? No, not boys. Facebook. Fail.

Sorta.

Because you see, it was on Facebook that my travel soul sister asked why I hadn't been blogging.

Ma belle cherie-soeur, ce post est pour vous. Je t'aime!!

One of the great things I love about wanderin' is not going to the 'must sees' and doing the 'must dos'. Instead, I find complete pleasure in the simple things. Such as 'une promenade'. And I have gone on some nice walks.

One crisp morning I took the bus into Lyon d'aller faire une promenade. This city is full of lovely bridges so I started my walk by hanging out on one of them. The rivers Saône and Rhône split the city of Lyon into three major parts. It's easy to remember that the Rhône is on the right side, the Saône is the left side and they converge southwards in the Confluence area. The two rivers create Presqu'île which is the city center of Lyon, aka "The Island"

Hmm, what am I looking at?

Oh, that's a nice view of the old buildings...

Lyon, like a lot of other European cities, is very old. The cool thing is this is a designated UNESCO heritage site. I think I'm subconsciously drawn to these sites because it just occurred to me that the cities I absolutely adored were UNESCO places. Melaka in Malaysia and Luang Prabang in Laos. Oh, how I pine for these two cities...

One of my favourite things to do is meander in the narrow streets and laneways of old towns. And Vieux Lyon did not disappoint. I highly recommend going on a weekend morning stroll when most of the city is still asleep. I adore this 'alone time' because I enjoy the quietness of a place before it roars to life.

Sunday morning dance practice? Peut-être:

As I traversed the streets this one morning, I just headed upwards from the left bank of the Saône where Vieux Lyon rests in her quaintness.

Every so often, I would take note of her crumbling textures:

And always keeping a keen eye on street art. I'm jonesing for some Banksy or Mr. Brainwash. Definitely always looking for Space Invader. But none so far....in Paris perhaps? Peut-être.

But these types of street art are cute too:

I wonder how I can free Joe...he looks more like Federico Aubele...

As I climbed upwards in the old city, I stopped to take in the views incrementally; stealing glimpses as the sun slowly warmed the rooftops. I could feel the city waking up from it's Sunday morning slumber. The air was still crisp and the soleil toasted my chilly cheeks as I hiked towards the big church at the top.

The river Saône in the near distance:

Alas, I made it to the top! The statuesque church, known as Basilique de Fourvière is definitely a touristy place. But lucky for me, at 10:30-ish, I pretty much had the place to myself. And for some strange reason, there wasn't any Sunday mass happening. Perhaps later in the day? Peut-être.

In the meantime I took in the nice view of the city. The tower in the distance is Part-Dieu, a shopping and business center. It is also known to locals as 'le crayon':

My obligatory self portrait:

And look at me all fancy using the self timer on my camera!

I spent a good little while up here just watching the clouds moving life by. And with hardly anyone around, my mind was free to focus on some music in my headphones.

At the moment: Song For Max:

And as I put Shed Demo's album on repeat, my mind was also free to focus thoughts on the Dashing Young Buck. Do you think boys are still distracting me? Peut-étre. My favourite French word these days. Maybe. No, really, that's what it means.

So, was I thinking about a boy. Totes. That's Canadian for totally. You can take the Canadian Girl outta Canada but ya totes can't take the totes outta her!

Hmm, that was kinda corny. Boys. Make. Me. Corny. Sometimes.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Coastally Surreal


lundi le 5th novembre, 2012; 13:11
Location: Starbucks, rue de la République, Lyon France
Pourquoi: Beautiful things happen in threes.

Ever see something so f@cking beautiful, you could cry? Make that two things for me. Okay, three.

Firstly, Spain. Ohhhlaaa, espagne. I sunbathed topless the first time with you 13 years ago in the Mediterranean Sea. You filled me with so much warmth, it never left me. Then the universe brought me back to you with the most wonderful host family in the world. How do I honour you with this post?

Let me start with my ode to you:

For one week, my host family, the Dimouchy's and I spent our holiday in Ajuntament de Roses, a town that wrapped itself around the Med Sea near the French/Spanish border. On 28th October we piled up all the necessities into the car needed for the 5hr drive out of France. One thing I deliberately left behind was my laptop, thinking that since we're on holiday, I wouldn't be giving English lessons to my host sisters. Wrong. Luckily Adaptability is my #1 strength (Thanks StrengthFinder.com) and lessons centered around our daily happenings.

But before any English words were written, young Alice took the time to draw a wonderful "Portrait of A Chinese Girl" in the middle seat.

She pretty much captured the essence of me sleeping in the car (minus the drool thankfully). I mean look at the lips! And my misspelled name will be in a future lesson no doubt (:

D'accord, a few hours later, we pulled into town and filed into our flat for the week - a small-ish home facing the sea. Sunsets on the balcony? Sure! Better still - sunset on the pier. Simple pleasures.

One day we strolled into the local market to sample the good eats available. Now, I have had some good churros in my time...

But nothing beats a local making it right there. BAM! Now that's fresh:

Ever want to sample sangria to your heart's content? Then get your butt to Roses, Costa Brava, Spain.

Yup, some serious sampling happened here...

On another day, we went for a leisurely hike on the well marked trails. We're on holidays after all so stress-free activities was on order. Hugging the cliffs while the sun sparkled like diamonds in the sea is pretty stress-free don't you think? 

Clear blue skies and the snow capped Pyrénées Alpes didn't hurt either:

Like diamonds in the sea:

Secondly, on a rainy day, my host father, Marc and 15yr old Juliette took me to the one place I had anxiously been awaiting. I've got goosebumps writing this and wish I could articulate what an experience it was for me to go to this place. The first time I saw his work in the flesh was back in 1999 when I was in Paris' Montmartre neighbourhood and happened to stumble upon the somewhat hidden museum. This artist was a coming of age for me in my final high school year. He opened my eyes to the world beyond the "normal". Before him, I thought Gustav Courbet was the kind of artist I aspired to be. Or emulating Van Gough would validate me.

But when clocks are melting, giraffs are burning and drawers are coming out of a woman's breasts, it changes your perception of what is real. It becomes surreal. Which then becomes real.

He was an absolute Genius:

I have spent countless hours studying his work. And while The Persistance of Memory piece is in America, The Hallucinogenic Toreador is appropriately placed in this museum that He Himself conceptualized, designed and painted.

A close up of one of the most alluring paintings to me:

The following piece trumps the Raft of the Medusa in the Louvre in terms of size. Overwhelming.


 "Apotheosis of the Dollar":


Homage to Mae West, was...surreal. She was as unconventional an actress as Dali was an artist:

Visiting the Museu Dali was the highlight of being in Spain this time around.

The past week, my eyes feasted on clear blue skies, diamonds dancing in water and brush strokes by a master.

Beautiful things happen in threes. That's why it's my favourite number. The third thing was receiving two pictures in my messages this morning that were so beautiful, I could cry.

And of course, I won't share this with you because...well some things are just meant for me (:

Thursday, 18 October 2012

In the Land of Love

jeudi le 18th octobre, 2012; 22:22
Location: Ma chambre, Vourles Lyon France
Pourquoi: Parce que mon amie m'a dit que j'ai été une source d'inspiration. 

In case you have no idea what I just wrote in the above sentence, the reason I'm writing this post is "Because my friend said I was an inspiration" Hey Kelli K, I hope I don't let you down!

Now let's see, I've been in France two weeks and one day. And I've only written one post about my adventure so far - fail. But I have an excuse! You see, I'm now writing for two different blogs - this lovely one you're reading and one for my scholarship exchange program. These things take time. Okay, that's a poor excuse but I'm on a roll tonight as I just submitted a post to my co-ordinator at Greenheart Travel. When I figure out how to link the two posts, I'll let you know.

En ce moment, I have been adapting to life with the best French host family that a Canucker could have outside Quebec. But where do I start? Let me just see where I left off in my last post....oh yes! Dreaming about boys, brie and all things French!

Hmmm, let's start with boys - I know some of you inquisitive readers have commented on one of my Facebook status'. Um, yes, there is a boy. A 'dashing young buck' as one of my friends called it, haha. And if you have been following my antics for a while, you know how I tend to be cryptic. That ain't gonna change. However, keep Love bottled up and it will explode. 

So in the meantime, my favourite natural element has spoken for me. The sky knows about us:

I didn't make this up, seriously. I recently woke up late one morning and the cloud gods teased me with this through my bedroom window. So did I find love in the Land of Love? Ironically no! Cupid has played a rather mean trick on me by spearing his bow into my back just before I left Canadaland. Yep, He's across the pond, 6 hours behind me. ):

That's all I'm gonna feed you about the complicated beatings of my heart. But perhaps you might know there's a skip in my step, a flutter in my heart and a warm feeling in my, um loins! Okay, I need to tell you about other cultural things happenin' here in France. 

Like FROMAGE!

Sometimes, I think I've died and gone to cheese heaven. And it's only been two weeks! If you're from Canada, you understand how this heavenly substance can be expensive. Even more so when it's 'locally' made, say from Salt Spring Island...

Well, let me tell you something that'll make you green with envy. There is a local fruit market just around the corner from my home in Vourles where every night at 18:00, local fresh cheese of all kinds, especially the chèvre kind is sold at €1 each. Tax included!

This is what we usually buy. I'm salivating right now knowing there is some in the fridge downstairs...

There is a container in the fridge dedicated to all things cheese. Brie, camembert, Bleu, chèvre. Sometimes, I'm jealous of the container. Can you tell I love cheese?

No? Well, let me show you something that happened today. As I wandered the streets of Lyon this afternoon, it was noontime and I was starting to feel peckish. I decided a jaunt to a supermarché would have the answer to my belly's craving. So inside, I picked up a fresh baguette €0,39, some delicious Soignon chèvre for €1,57 and a tomate for €0,32.

I sauntered out of the shop with the baguette under my arm (how French!!) and walked towards the Pont de Guillotière to sit by the river Rhône and put my project into action.

Here are the ingredients you need to make yourself a tasty lil lunch, Lyon style:

A Sandwich is Born:

And eaten!

As if this simple pleasure wasn't enough, the warm October breeze blew through my hair, Federico Aubele was playing on my iPhone and a handsome cyclist whizzed by behind me accidentally dropping his bike light. I stopped eating, jumped up on the step and picked up the light, walked over and handed it back to him. Bemused, he grinned a big 'merci beaucoup' as I replied 'de rien' and went back to my seat. I looked over to find him somewhat enchanted by me. It was no big deal but, aww how sweet. Don't worry Dashing Young Buck, my heart belongs to you!

To end a pleasant autumn day, I went into the Lyon Métro headed for Stade de Gerland to meet up with my host mum, Sylvie. Entering the station, I bumped into the only friend I have in Lyon, Virginie, a pint sized Vietnamese expat that I had befriended on my Easyjet flight two weeks ago. Cheek kisses ensued as we delighted in seeing each other again and made tentative plans for next week.

Well, Kelli K, I hope this was a little bit of inspiration for ya! Make your plans and travel, travel, travel!! And for the rest of you reading this, lemme know what you think, I love feedback.


Friday, 5 October 2012

Boys, Brie and All Things French


vendredi 5th octobre, 2012; 11:47
Location: La maison Dimouchy, Vourles, Lyon France
Why: Summer synopsis and the next adventure.

D'accord, this has been the longest I've gone without a post since I started writing. It's time to let you amazing readers know what I've been up to. I'll start with a summer synopsis.

If you read my last post, you'll know that this nomadic spirit went and got herself a fine lil scholarship in a far away land called France. Uh-huh, I'm still pinching myself as I write this not only on my snazzy new MBP but in a beautiful home in a French village, population 3115 + 1 (ha!) I think I'm officially the only foreigner here.

Right, so after doing a triple back flip from the scholarship news, I figured I'd better get me a job to support my upcoming adventure. A friend hooked me up with a part time gig working à la boulangerie. Btw, I'll be throwing in French words and sentences now as I practice this baguette-loving language. So...have google translate at the ready; just in case. (:

For the past couple of months, I've been happily working at a local boulangerie called Brick Street Bakery. I can still smell the sweet aromas of the pastries freshly baked and delivered from the head office and that perfect almond croissant still lingers on my tongue.

And of course, no new experience is complete without me scratching it out on paper:

I wish I knew how to transfer photos from my iPhone to my MacBook so I can show you the rest of this cute little bakery. Any help out there? Something to do with iCloud? Ida know....luckily I drew this picture and snapped it the 'old' fashioned way - my digicam (:

In between stuffing my face with lemon tarts, baguettes and brownies, the second best thing since sliced bread happened - my 2nd nephew was born! Tristan Tyler at only 5lbs 3oz, was just a delicate Chinese/German/Croatian morsel in my arms. I am a proud 'Diy Yee' (big auntie from Dad's side). Or as the best thing since sliced bread (my 1st nephew Meikai) likes to call me "Eeen Diy Yee"

The best slices of mixed Chinese bread this side of the world:

Do you know what makes Meikai the BEST thing ever? Here is an example:

At the park swings. I give him a giant 'underdog' push.
Meikai: Weeeee, ooh my nuts are tingling!
Me: Weeeee, ooh my nuts are tingling too!

Absolute BEST.

Anywhoo, one of the main reasons I came back to Canada earlier than planned was to get my French Visa when I decided I wanted to stay longer than the 90 day visa-free option. To spare you the tedious details of this process, let's just say that I had been holding my breath for the past two months. After many road blocks with the French Consulate, OHIP, BC Health and mini panic attacks this past summer, that navy blue book with my mug shot at the front arrived in the mail one day before my flight. One freakin' day. Yeah.

Blood, sweat, tears and one crucial fax, just for this sticker:

So after a big sigh and as a single tear trickled down my face, I packed my trusty rucksack for another adventure across the pond.

But not before one last boy shenanigan! I don't know how I manage to get myself into these delicious little situations but this one was a bit complicated. It all happened so quickly literally days before I stepped onto the tarmac that my mind is still whirling around it all. To spare loved ones involved, I won't go into details except that it is safe to say we are star-crossed....friends? **le sigh**

Well that's all I'm going to say about that.


D'accord, after two flights and a six hour time difference (see below pic)...


I am at la maison Dimouchy, my French host family for the next 3 months. Immediately I am smitten with this family of four. Today is Juliette's 15th birthday party and next week will be a repeat as Alice turns 8. Oh man, I think 8 year old Meikai's got competition as I am already madly in love with these two darlings.

And I'm madly in love with the house. The spacious living room is flooded with sunlight everyday:

And this is where I dream about boys, brie and all things French:

As I get over my jet lag, I'll likely be wide awake again tonight at 02:00. And I'll likely be creeping some friend on facebook (you know you all do it too!) But I think I'll go for a run tomorrow in the country hillside. Oh, don't be jealous, just come and join me instead!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Writing and Wandering with a Greenheart

Sunday 12th August, 2012; 20:43
Location: My 'desk' again. Toronto, Ontario Canada
Why: In case you were wondering whether I got it.

If you mused through yesterday's long-ish 'wordy' post, thank you for reading. You may be wondering if I got it?

Um...........

Guess who's going to France on a paid scholarship?!

I've treated myself to some light reading for my upcoming adventure:

That's it today, short n sweet.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Fou Fou Pour France

Saturday 11th August 2012; 21:29
Location: My 'desk', Toronto, Ontario Canada
Why: Because I can't stop thinking about traveling.

It's supposed to be summertime here in Toronto. So why then is it 19degrees and piss pouring rain? This weather blows. If I close my eyes I can still imagine the heat in Asia. Boy what I would give for some S.E. Asia humidity right now....and what I'd do for some traveling...

Okay, gotta snap out of it and remind myself that good things are a comin'

This is going to be a 'wordy' post but I promise it'll be worth reading!

Three months ago while I was living in Malaysia, I was researching on traveling to France to study French. I happened upon a Language Exchange Homestay program with the Center for Cultural Interchange, a non-profit organization based in Chicago, Illinois. Through their Greenheart Travel division, I applied for a language exchange homestay in France. The application process was a slight endeavour in itself and did not guarantee me a placement. I even had to write a letter in French to my host family about myself. Since I didn't want to use Google Translate or had a dictionary, this literally took me hours to write! Okay, maybe I cheated a wee bit.... But basically, I had to recall my French from Grade 4 to Grade 9 - thank goodness I paid attention in class.

Thankfully, I had my dear friend from Montreal (bonjour Dylan!) proof read my letter before I sent it off. A couple of weeks later, I got accepted and placed in Lyon France. Happy days!

This boosted my confidence so I decided to apply for Greenheart Travel's Travel Correspondent Scholarship. I thought the initial application process was a process....this one was a stresser. It included a written essay on why I want to travel to France or why I love traveling, a photo essay consisting of 5-7 photos with little or no word descriptions, and a 2 minute video.

For some of you who creep my Facebook page (bless you!, creep away), you'll remember I posted an album called "13 Months, 7 Countries...So Far". Well that was my photo essay! And thanks for all the feedback.

As for my essay, well, this was actually the easiest part. The hard part was writing it in a way that would stand out from the rest of the competition. Since it was just one scholarship for the four countries (Belgium, France, Italy, Spain), I didn't think I stood a chance but I plunged forward anyway.

Here is an excerpt from that essay:


Smitten and Bitten by the Travel Bug
By Dave-Lynn (Davie) Poc

"My first taste of a country beyond Canada was introduced to me in the fifth grade when we did a study on Japan. Until this point, my world didn’t go beyond 63 Cloverdale Drive, in suburbia Ontario.  My teacher, Mrs. Stiles had put up a world map at the front of the classroom and indicated where Japan was – a tiny oblong shape on the other side of the world. I was mystified.

And smitten.

The concept of a place so far away from mine became the stuff of my daydreams. And as the Japan study continued over the next few weeks, I became more and more curious of the world beyond my own. I loved how these cultures were so different, the language so foreign. Even seemingly mundane things such as foot ware were fascinating.

I believe this was the birth of the travel bug for me and knew some day, I would just…go. I was 10 years old.

Since that year in fifth grade, I have always wanted to travel and experience living abroad. Geography was one of my favourite subjects and I used to spend countless hours pouring over all kinds of maps. I even scored a perfect test in the seventh grade where we had to locate all the capital cities in North America on a map. I have always had a mad love affair with maps and Google Maps is never far from my reach.

Often, daydreaming about traveling to a far away land consumed my weekends. I wanted to ride the train across Europe, climb the Great Wall of China, bomb around on a motorbike in Asia, and taste the risotto in Italy. I envisioned myself traversing the streets of Paris and breaking out into perfectly accented French to the delight of a Parisian. Or exclaiming in exaggerated Italian whilst using wild hand gestures which made me grin at the very thought of it.

Fast forward to adulthood. During and after university, I had sampled a small part of the world by traveling to Japan, China, and several countries in Europe, including France. I even bartended in London to finance The Travel Dream. Sadly, my hefty student loan kept looming over me and I found myself back in Canada to work for ‘The Man’. Twelve years flew by with little extended excursions as I climbed the career rungs of the corporate fashion industry. When the monotony of being chained behind a desk for years and the itch to stuff my rucksack became too much to ignore, I decided to make a move.

I spent one year scrupulously saving by cutting back on almost all my luxuries whilst researching places to visit. My trip was mapped out to 15 countries, 12 months in 3 different areas of the world. The first was Southeast Asia. Second was India. And third was going to be South America. To my non surprise, 13 months later and I have yet to leave Southeast Asia. I’d become a lazy gecko! But seriously, I quickly realized blasting through a country just to say I’d been there was not for me. I wanted to get under the skin of Thailand, taste the history of Vietnam and get lost in the jungles of Laos. I wanted to be humbled by these countries so vastly different from my privileged Canada. I have been humbled to the core of my being; from meeting survivors of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia to volunteering my time with the disabled in Indonesia.

Along the way, I enrolled in a TEFL/TESOL training course (I’ve hummed and hawed about this for years) and discovered that I really enjoy teaching.  Endless hours preparing lesson plans with my classmates, whilst chugging back bottles of Beer Chang, made for memories to last a lifetime. Fortunately, I don’t drink (beer) and didn’t fall victim to the ‘Chang Over’, phew! After this amazing experience in Chiang Mai, the desire to live and now, teach abroad has cemented into my consciousness."

Hmmm, just reading this again gives me goosebumps...

For my video, I kept it raw without any special effects or editing. I did this for one reason only - my Acer netbook had no video editing capabilities.

I submitted my application and waited patiently for 1st July to come...

Did I get the scholarship you ask? Wait for it........


Friday, 27 July 2012

A Tourist or a Traveler In Toronto?


Friday 27th July, 2012; 15:37
Location: Sue and Tyrone's Apt (aka my old place), Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Why: It's like I'm still traveling. Sorta.

Well, it's been 3 weeks since I landed back in Canada for a little break from wandering the globe. I spent some time at the rent's house in Brampton catching up. Then settled in Toronto to ease myself back into 'reality' and have been staying with my sister Sue and her BF Tyrone. Their apartment is actually my old place before I moved to Vancouver back in 2006.

A snapshot of The Apartment before I moved to BC:

Wow, time flies and everything's changed. But nothing's changed and yet there are changes. Being back in this city after many years away has left me somewhat bewildered. Excited in some aspects and dismayed at others. It feels like I'm still traveling as I navigate the neighbourhoods that was once the centre of my universe.

One day, I crossed the busy intersection of Lake Shore Blvd West and Bathurst and made my way up to Queen West, the street that shaped my future as a teenager. It was exciting to feel the pace and vibe of this neighbourhood I loved so much. However, as I made my way eastward, it quickly became apparent how much had changed. For the worse.

No longer was boho Queen Street what it once was. I saw many of my favourite shops disappear, replaced by big corporate boxes. The last time I was here, the area was gentrifying itself. But when I saw that the long standing Peach Berserk clothing shop had closed, a little bit of me perished.

For those who know me, Peach Berserk created the possibility of the young adult I would become. It lead me from an artsy pixie co-op student at Mayfield Secondary School into the world of university, fashion and graphic design, and now a nomadic gyspy.

I was happy, however to see that Queen Mother Cafe is still standing strong.

Even better was seeing the sign had stayed the same for decades:

One neighbourhood that I was happy to see still retain it's charm without complete commercialization was Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD). The college which is adjacent to the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) on Dundas Street has undergone some significant changes over the past few years. I recall the AGO being a dusty mess of a reno in 2005 during the Massive Change for Action exhibition.

But it was dust well spent. The interior is scrumptiously organic in design:

When OCAD got an update, I was opposed to it's design; balking at how "out-of-place" it would look in the neighbourhood. But I have lightened up over the years since living in Vancouver. I came back to this hipster part of town for a gander and actually the college's modern facade lifted my spirit. I must say, I absolutely love British architect Will Alsop's OCAD addition.

It's bright and playfully modern. That's Sue in the picture! 

I wandered through a few more areas I used to haunt. They felt familiar and foreign at the same time, visually stimulating my senses. After a while, I was overwhelmed and emotionally confused. Was I a tourist or a traveler here? Was it still my home? Or is it Vancouver? Or Melaka? Ubud? Suddenly, I felt more displaced than ever. Even more so than when I first stepped on Canadian soil in early July.

A nomadic spirit I have become.

In the days following the initial tour of my previous life, I have started to settle in and adapt to the pulse of Canada's busiest intersections. As I take in everything around me, sometimes it feels like I never left; that I never went abroad.  But then a smell, a colour, a sliver of a taste will bring me right back to Thailand. The imported durian reminds me of it's abundance in Vietnam. A woman in a headscarf whisks me back to Malaysia. And a random backpacker coming out of the Global Villager's Hostel reminds me of all the guesthouses and hostels I laid my head in for so many months.

I look away, fighting back tears to be on the road again. I remind myself that France is only a few weeks away.

Absolutely incurable wanderlust.

Friday, 6 July 2012

And Then Poof! I Was Back In Canada

Friday 6th July, 2012 14:43
Location: My Rents' House, Brampton Ontario Canada
Why: Same Same But Different. I have incurable wanderlust.

It has been a few weeks since I've written a post so for those who follow me regularly, my apologies. While living in Melaka, I was getting use to the idea of having a daily routine, something that had been somewhat foreign in my travels up until this point. Well, except when I was living in Ubud, though everyday was different especially with the freedom of having a Scoopy to bomb out of town when it got too routine.

I had made my flat on Jonker Walk as user friendly as possible but found myself rarely at home except to do my yoga practice and take quick showers throughout the hot days of Chinatown.

On 23rd June, I went to my friend Nora's first solo art exhibition in KL. Joyce was my date and we had a lovely time hanging out at The Warehouse gallery in KL's Chinatown. Nora's show was inspiring and a great reminder of my goal of having a group show in the next two years. I spent the weekend at the Chan Clan house where we celebrated Joyce's brother, Simon's birthday.

Something switched in me that weekend. I watched in wistful nostalgia as Joyce and her family interacted with each other and suddenly, I longed to be home with my own family. Originally, I had planned to make my pit stop in the Tdot for 24th August. When I returned to Melaka from Joyce's all I could think about was laughing with my siblings, making funny faces with my nephew and running along the Lakeshore with the wind in my now long-ish hair.

I have always operated on my gut instincts, no matter how impulsive or crazy it may be. So, at 3 in the morning a few days ago, I punched in some flight dates on my keyboard and re-routed myself bound for North America. Then poof, like that, I was gone from my beloved Melaka. And before I could say Oh Canada, I was there. Here.

Getting my bearings as I marvel at my rents' house in Suburbia Ontario:

It's been 26hrs since I've been back and have been going through some reverse culture shock. I found myself wide awake at 02:30 (internally, this was 14:30 for me). I went for a quick 5km run this morning on the ever wide road that is the epitome of suburbia-land. Afterwards, I took a hot shower with real water pressure. A hot shower!! And ate Bing cherries. Cherries! And drank water. From. The. Tap. Ahhh, modern luxuries...

Walking through my rents' house has been strange too. Everything is still same same, but different. Only the 'different' isn't anything in the house. The 'different' is me. My perspective. My heart and mind has been re-shaped by 14 months abroad that I am not sure how I feel about being back in Canada. I feel like I shouldn't be back just yet but I'm so happy to see my family again. In fact, we are all going to Marine Land tomorrow! Say what?!

Diane is going to pick up Susan from Yorkdale station in a little while and Ryo will be coming over after his haircut. Cam should be home later tonight as well. Tai, well, he already came by the house last night. So tonight promises a Poc Siblings' shenanigan.

I know that in a few days time, I'll get used to the idea of being home again. And in about 11 weeks, I'll be on a plane back to the UK, making my way to France for at least 3 months. Oh, that's another post by the way. Wait for it.....

Hmmm already, I am itching to get back on a dodgy bus, creaky train, or delayed plane. I already miss pulling out crumpled fisherman pants from my backpack and picking up travel sized toiletries. I have incurable wanderlust.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Home Away From Home

Wednesday 13th June, 2012; 01:14
Location: Davie's Flat, Melaka Malaysia
Why: My Melakan Digs and a Novel Concept.

Nothing like a friend sending me an FB message asking why I haven't posted a blog lately. As it turns out, somehow, my posts were not visible on my wall **shakes fists** Thanks AC for bringing it to my attention! I hope you enjoy my shelf and I'm so happy it has a new home.

Speaking of which, when I decided to stay in Melaka for a while, I wanted a place to call my own. So I put the word out on the streets of Chinatown. I happened to mention this to the owner of a cafe I frequented. And it just so happened that Michelle (owner) had a flat above her antique shop on Jonker Walk that she could rent to me.

Ask and ye shall receive.

When the day came to get my keys, anticipation and excitement washed over me. I had the entire 2nd floor of the building to myself, though most of it, I didn't need for living. The building was built in 1938 and is part of Unesco. Actually, the whole of Chinatown in Melaka is a Unesco site.

My humble digs above P & M Antique House on Jonker Walk, Chinatown's main street:

As you can see from the above picture, my actual living space faces the street where I get good sunlight. This part of Chinatown is really lively, albeit a bit touristy. Sometimes, I get annoyed with the giant tour buses that idle outside the street while all the Japanese tourists are swarming around trigger happy with their cameras. Being sandwiched between two karaoke bars (next door on the left and two doors down on the right), there is always a Chinese song playing in the background, sometimes with a good singer, most times with a bad. I've gotten so used to it that it's now background noise.

When I first saw this space, it was bland but spacious and had potential:

The rest of the top floor includes a long hallway that is filled with 5 rooms on the left. It's a good set up for a guesthouse:

Towards the end of the long hallway lies the kitchen and bathrooms. I have a squat toilet room, shower room and the luxury of a western toilet room. The best part - they're all al fresco while still being completely private. The kitchen is lacklustre and after nagging my landlord to put in a proper hot plate to no avail, I am perfectly content hunting for food on the streets. In fact, my day is not complete without a bowl of curry laksa or roti canai, food I couldn't make at home anyway.

I found a wonderful deal on scarves one day while cruising around Dataran Pahlawan, Melaka's mega mall. These scarves would make great curtains and also souvenirs for family back home. I purchased 10 for RM50, approximately $16CAD.

The colourful scarves brighten the flat while giving it an artsy hippie feel:

Fortunately, except for purchasing my bed, all the furniture was found inside the other rooms, including the massage bed you see on the left in the above picture. Of course, I had to add a touch of hippie tie dye.

Besides a brand new bed, I also splurged on a cotton sateen, 728 thread count bedsheet set. I found a fantastic deal at Makhota Parade, Melaka's other mega mall. On sale, it was RM215 (aprx $71CAD) and was by far the biggest luxury item I've afforded myself in my travels but also the best deal. Back home, bedsheets with this high thread count would cost several hundred dollars easily.

Sleeping on 728 thread count sheets feels divine and makes me feel a little more grown up:

One thing I loved about my flat was the pale yellow walls - a blank canvas for me to create! I found some inspiration at Anna's favourite cafe during my hop over to Chiang Mai in April. So I sketched out a rough drawing and got to work.

Starting at the base:

And working my way up...

Smiling all the while...

And smiling because the Cute Dutch guy was playing muse to my creativity!

Ah, boys...they are never far from my heart and mind. And bed? Haha, wouldn't you lovely readers like to know!

Back to the wall canvas. Satisfied with the tree part, I added some leaves:

Okay, it's 02:30 and a really, really awful rendition of Aerosmith's I Don't Want To Close My Eyes is being belted out by someone downstairs at the karaoke bar. Gawd.

A few days later, I came back to finish off this little project after fussing over the bird silhouettes. Et voila!

This is what I see every morning when I wake up. And with plenty of room for my yoga mat, my practice has become a daily routine. Routine. There's a novel concept. After traveling for so long, it is actually quite nice having a routine. Melaka's Chinatown is ideal for easy living, making friends and eating well. Life is good.

Sometimes, I have to pinch myself that I am still out here doing this wandering thang. I have surpassed my goal of 'Travel for one whole year' and looking forward to the next part of this nomadic lifestyle. Please come back for more anecdotes of moments abroad. I promise to make sure my posts are visible on my wall.

As I close to turn in for the day, the bad singing has stopped....nope, it's back again. Hmmm, where did I put those earplugs.....