Thursday, 22 March 2012

Wingin' It in the Blue

Friday, 23rd March, 2012; 11:03
Location: Chiang Mai Thailand
Why: Gonna visit A-Mah one day by flying.

It's a quiet Friday morning as I take another delicious sip of impossibly fresh coffee at Voyage Cafe, one of my favourite hangouts in Chinatown. The sweetest female voice hums over an acoustic melody of an unknown song while the ceiling fan cools the back of my neck.

I look over at the other traveler who has just finished the same breakfast as me. She plays with her phone effortlessly. Time is standing still yet moving simultaneously and I am happily caught in the moment. This is the meaning of my life right now. 

In the moment sipping coffee, observing and writing:

It is also time to get caught up on recent events. Let's start with a couple of wings shall we?

While in Ubud, after designing my dragon, I set out to design my next piece. A pair of wings so I can soar high in the sky. And one day fly away to visit A-Mah.

The first draft of these wings were mentioned in a previous post. Perhaps you may have read it? If not, here it is:

While I was 95% happy with Red Dragon, there was some lost in translation with my tattoo artist regarding how to colour it up. To avoid this with my wings, I decided to re-draw it but in colour. So in between lesson plans and rounds of coffee at Lan Cafe (aka Wooden Bar) in Chiang Mai, I scratched out the wings in shades of blue.

In the blue zone:

Satisfied with the left wing while needing another cuppa java:

Red Dragon and Blue Wings were inked one week apart and A-Mah passed away right in the middle of all this. And I still had to focus on the TEFL course at hand. That's a lot of shtuff processing in my head.

Nonetheless, I march forward - back to the ink gurney at Dejavu Tattoo Studio. This time around, it was 5 hours face down while listening to Psychology 101, the Open Yale Course I've been able to sneak in between wanderin' throughout SE Asia.

Right wing done and a 10 min break. It always gets worse before it gets better...ouch:

Left wing done and I'm ready to throw in the towel at this point but...

There was still the matter of the white highlights. This part was by far the most painful as the artist was going through the already inked parts a second and third time. Tears. Big, sloppy tears streamed down my face from the pain of broken skin and losing my beloved A-Mah.

This too shall pass I thought.

But look at the results!

My collection of ink had grown considerably in the course of four weeks. And this is only what I've mentioned so far. There's still the neck and ankle piece which I'll talk about another time. But right now, time for a break I think....

It's nice knowing my wings and dragon follow me everywhere I go, protecting me always:

And they will follow me to KL tomorrow as I head to an art show where Nora the Explora has some fabulous works. Also looking forward to couchsurfing at Joyce's before rendezvousing with a funny Lemmon.

A-Mah's Spirit

Thursday, 22nd March, 2012; 16:23
Location: Melaka Malaysia
Why: A-Mah, I miss you so much.

I have been back in Melaka nine days now and starting to get back to 'reality', sort of. A-Mah's passing affected me so much that I've been quietly paralyzed from within. I still can't think about her without tears brimming.

I don't know if sleeping in my new flat had me a little nervous but my first night there (last night), I had all kinds of wild dreams. Most I couldn't remember except they left me with a bewildered feeling.

But the most wild dream was seeing A-Mah again. She was walking toward me with both hands outreached and a huge smile on her face, gold teeth glistening in the light. I was a child again and hiding behind a stairwell. I remembered thinking this must be A-Mah's spirit because she's gone and when she touches me, I won't feel anything.

She came closer and I crept out from under the stairwell toward her, my hands reached outward. I touched her and she was real.

She was REAL.

My heart was thumping and ringing in my ears. I screamed out 'A-Mah! You're real. You're real' as tears rolled down my cheeks. She just smiled and laughed her hearty laugh I know so well. We walked a few paces before I shook myself awake in a bed full of sweat; my heart seeming to burst through my chest.

All was still in the early hours of the morning. Even the karaoke bar finally closed for the night so it was dead quiet. A chill swept through me as I imagined A-Mah's spirit, perhaps along with others. Perhaps in my presence. As the building creaked and settled, my eyes darted across the room, out the window and towards my door.

Nothing. Except for my wild imagination.

I hope the oncoming days will not be this intense. But if it means I get to see A-Mah again in my dreams, it is a decent trade off for as long as my heart can take it.

A-Mah, I miss you so much.

Friday, 16 March 2012

An Ode to My Family.

Wednesday 14th March, 2012;12:34
Location: Dong Nai Vietnam
Why: My blood is thick. Poc thick.

After a tearful goodbye to Dad, Ryo and extended family, I am back in Melakatown Malaysia. As I settle back at Jalan Jalan Guesthouse (my home away from home), I keep thinking about my time back in Viet Nam. Figured I should download here to clear my head.

My second trip back to Viet Nam was another powerful trip back to my roots. This time was made more poignant with the presence of Dad and Ryo. Just thinking of the time spent with them the last two+ weeks leaves a lump in my throat and an involuntary impulse to shed tears of love and gratitude.

Ryo and I both landed at SGN on 26th February a couple of hours apart, to be greeted by so many family members, including Dad. My heart skipped a beat. Last time I saw Dad, he was dropping me off at YYZ and I was balling my eyes out. I wanted to do the same this time around but fought back the tears. What a feeling; the passing of A-Mah had brought us together. Kinda epic for me.

Ryo and I settled in A-Mah's old room to bunk for the next couple of weeks. It was just like ol' times when we shared a bedroom with Sue and Diane. I'm so grateful for my siblings that I'm starting to feel a lump in my throat again. Dad is still staying at A-Guu's house (Dad's younger sister)

Ryo, Me and Dad on our way to see A-Goong who lives with Gow Sook (Dad's younger half brother):

Friday, 16th March 2012

This post is kind of hard to write. Not that I don't know what to write, but more like how do I even begin to express what my family means to me. So I left this post and now I'm back.

A-Mah. The mere thought of her has my eyes brimming with tears. So many flashes of treasured moments, conversations and laughter race through my mind every time I think about her. I see her in Dad, I miss her so much when he talks about her. So many stories about her life; it has been a great history lesson with Dad and family. Ryo and I listened intently the past two weeks of fascinating stories told by aunts, uncles, cousins and in-laws. We got so many different perspectives from different family members that I am left emotionally drained yet so blessed with my life.

The day we went to see A-Mah's grave and brought some of her favourite foods. She loved to eat:

Although I had returned to Dong Nai to pay my respects, Ryo and I found ourselves in Saigon for 11 fun filled days, including an overnight stint at the hospital - read my previous post. It will have you in stitches. Su-sie-ah and I had a great laugh about it when I spoke to her on the phone.

The rest of the time we were constantly being stuffed with food to the point of exhaustion. Family sure knows how to feed their Viet Kieus! And of course, copious amounts of shopping. As a backpacker, I'm extremely picky about what I buy since I have to lug it around. However, for Ryo, it was shopping heaven. Gotta say, I was impressed and slightly envious he was putting so many goodies in his suitcase to bring back to Canada. My gorgeous wooden spoons are in that suitcase. I'll get over it.

Ryo in shoe heaven captured with the Fish Eye effect:

Going for dessert with cousins after many a dinners that left me and Ryo near food coma status. But we soldier onwards like the Pocs that we are:

Along with old stories being told, so too were old photos being shown. Wow!! What a feast for the eyes and heart. We came across old photos that Mom and Dad had sent back decades ago.

I particularly love this one, especially Tai and Cam's expressions, so precious:

It was so much fun going through hundreds of old photos from all sides of the Poc Lineage. There are talks of other siblings going back for a visit for A-Mah's one year anniversary. I am so excited for this since Mom and Dad will be making the trip back as well.

Meanwhile, Ryo and I documented new photos of old memories.

Like this one: Here, he is reenacting having played hide and seek on A Guu's balcony:

And here we are bombing around Bau Ham on a scooter:

Tales of Dad's efforts to sponsor as many relatives to Canada is the stuff movie scripts are made of. Here, he is just an unassuming man on the back of a motorbike. But to me, he is my personal hero:

This second trip back has been even more epic than my first visit 6 months ago. I am excited for the future of me and my family, despite the sad loss of A-Mah. This event along with an exciting creation on the horizon fills me with so much sadness and happiness at the same time. But everything that has and will happen is as it should be. I embrace all of it. I couldn't belong to a better family.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Food Posioning: 2. Davie: 0.

Tuesday, 6th March, 2012; 17:41
Location: Saigon Vietnam
Why: IV and oxygen tanks makes it all so hard core.

I don't know if it's bad luck or my Grandma's spirit's idea of a sick joke but as I suck on a sour candy that she had requested I bring to her, I think it's just bad luck. After all, no one else got food poisoning that night we all sat down for dinner at my cousin, A Phat's in-laws' house this past Friday.

Delicious Vietnamese food was a plenty on the dinner table and we merrily chowed down on all the goodness home cookin' (along with some street stall items) had to offer. As usual, I steered clear of all the meats and dug into all the veggies, dipping them in spicy, unknown fish sauces of sorts. Love fish sauce. So very Asian.

So what appeared to a be typically wonderful and satisfying meal ended with a trip to the toilet a little while later. No biggie and I'll spare you the details. But it was a prelude of several trips later on that evening. And into the wee hours of the morning. This was Pai all over again. Haven't read the post? Go to 'A Slice of Pai' - it's amusing, I promise.

Okay, so when it's coming out from both ends, you know it's not just the runs. My stubbornness turned down several offers by A Phat's wife, Linh, to go to the hospital. Finally, it was well into Saturday morning and I succumbed. By that time, I was more dehydrated than I thought as later events proved.

Soldier down at a Vietnamese hospital:

Bless my relatives, I couldn't be more grateful to have them as family. I was quickly whisked away to a semi private room where I groaned, tossed and turned like a baby while they attended to me as needed. The next few hours were kind of a blur so I am recounting as told by my people.

I managed a smile; before the passing out drama:

IV injected. Check. More trips to the toilet. Check. Put in a wheelchair and taken away for x-rays? Okay. Back to the private room. Check. More groaning. Definitely check.

At some point, I had to get another x-ray. Wtf? This didn't happen in Pai. So, back in the wheelchair again, pushed outside into the blazing hot sun, every bump made me want to shit in my Cambodian skirt. More on that later. I do recall this trip to the x-ray room was extremely painful and remembered I really needed to, you know, go. We get into the x-ray room and I was instructed to stand! Instead I was held up by three family members, then my eyes rolled to the back of my head.

White light. That's all I remembered for a long time. White light. Like staring into a very large blank sheet of paper.

Finally, when I came to, I slowly started seeing colour and the doorway. I had fallen unconscious, hit the floor and wasn't breathing. But not before my brother Day caught me. Panic spread through him like a wildfire as I became dead weight. Holy shit momma.

I got wheeled back to my room, head bobbing around like a drunken soldier. Getting out of the wheelchair, I looked back at it and saw it was soiled. Definitely not my finest moment and felt the most vulnerable I had ever felt in my life. I had went when I passed out and no one noticed; they were too busy with my dead weight. Then came the oxygen tank and that's when I knew this was hard core. I wasn't breathing enough and may pass out again. Hard core I tells ya.

So back on more IV and more crying as they poked, prodded and drew more blood for 'testing' of which I never got a prognosis. Nor did I get any for the 'x-rays' taken. Damn Vietnamese hospitals. And I was also pumped with so much IV that my face and hands swelled and frozed up to Botox proportions enough to make Joan Rivers jealous.

Damn Vietnamese hospitals. The nurses were carelessly cruel. Or maybe I'm just a suck. Or maybe Botox scares me more than I admit.

Sort of recovering. At least I have internet to keep me from going insane while waiting to be released. This was before the Botox freak out:

And so, I survive another hospital tryst and live to see another beautiful day. Grandma, was this your idea of a funny joke? Or did you want me to experience what it could be like on the other side? I can only imagine White. A hand print on my forearm like Day's would have been way cooler. I know you are watching over me. I love you still. If it was a joke, it was a 1, 640, 000VND joke. A-Mah you are funny!