Monday, 14 January 2013

10,000+ Page Views. Wha?!

lundi, le 14 janvier 2013; 21:01
emplacement: 3 ave Albert Einstein, Batiment E, Chambre 302
pourquoi: I just hit 10,000 page views...might as well keep going!

So, I'm a little bit beside myself. Before I packed it all up and stuffed my life into a Gregory Deva backpack, I mentioned to some friends that I would keep a blog of my wanderings.

Well, a few weeks into my 12 month sojourn, my good friend Asmin C messaged why I hadn't started my blog. Henceforth Wanderin' The Globe was conceived. After hours of trying to figure how the heck I even start a blog, I chose blogspot and ran with it.

Along the way, some readers started running with me, commenting as I rambled anecdotes of stumbling around SE Asia and Europe. I had never done much writing beforehand and was unsure how to go about telling my tales on the trails. Alas, I said Feck It, just write!

So here I am, 20 months later and I'm still rambling away. I try to make my million scattered thoughts into a somewhat coherent piece for each post I write. At first, I didn't think much of it as I served this to be a journal of sorts rather than for an audience. What I've learned from this writing is I write most easily from my own actual experiences. It's the only way I know how. I try not to censor myself too much but also remembering not to give all of myself away.

Recently, I re-read some old posts and thought, I have left myself vulnerable in cyberspace. I have literally put my "Heart on My Sleeve" in some of my posts. That's my terrible attempt in saying 'read the post with that title!' It's in the 2011 November thing that has left me rather surprised is I have never received a negative comment (privately or publicly) from a post.

So, I keep on keepin' on. And here's the kicker: I checked the status of my blog for shits n' gigs just now and hit 10, 016 page views. Wha?! Uh-huh. See, this is a big deal for me because I've just been writing and posting pics for fun. I don't even know how to link my own posts!

But I've seen readers come on to this little amateur site from places far far away. From countries my blog has no business being found.

It is humbling.

So to everyone who has read my tall tales or just blitzed through by accident, thank you for reading Wanderin' The Globe!

Or as I would say in my practicing French: "Merci de lire Wanderin' The Globe!"

Um, I'm living in a French Uni dorm room and some dude is blasting Carly Rae Jepson's Call Me Maybe..... What just happened?

Oh right, I like writing tall tales...that are true!

Monday, 7 January 2013

Gear of the Traveling Ninja

dimanche, le 06 janvier 2013; 22:56
emplacement: 3 ave Albert Einstein, Batiment E, Chambre 302
pourquoi: Je vous voulez présenter les essentiels pour la vie du voyageur.

In case Google Translates the above incorrectly or in case I’ve written it incorrectly, “I would like to present to you the essentials for the life of a traveler”

My life as a language exchange scholar with my French host family has finally come to an end. Alas, I packed all my worldly belongings into two backpacks and threw them into the trunk of the family car. Then we solemnly climbed in and drove me out to Villeurbanne, a neighbourhood in Lyon.

After getting myself sorted out at security, I received my keys and opened it to a giant closet; I mean tiny room.

Yep. Tiny. Room. University style. Université Lyon 1 to be exact.

Alors, c’est pas grave. That will be another post. Tonight I am writing from my spacious desk in my tiny room. Without internet. So this will be posted tomorrow when my wifi kicks in.

Actually the size of this room is what inspired me to write this post. Months ago, I had meant to write about my travel essentials. If you recall an old post, I’m obsessed with the weight of my travel gear. And over the past 20 months (!) I’ve become a pro at keeping the essentials.

When I was preparing for Wanderin’ the Globe, the first and most important gear I needed was a backpack. After hours at MEC, I chose my now well traveled yet mighty Gregory Deva 55L. This pack was on sale for $199CAD and designed to fit my petite 5foot (150cm) frame. This pack is near perfect with the exception that it is somewhat heavy when empty – a whopping 2.35Kg (5.17lbs)!

This pack has been around. A few times and counting. You can’t tell but there’s a pair of runners in the top compartment:

So, what goes inside this backpack you ask? Well, the most real estate goes to clothes. However, to minimize this burden, they all get vacuumed sealed in heavy Ziplock bags. This technique saves space and saved me from the stinky fish sauce incident in Vietnam. I believe you can find that post in “Jonesing for the Jungle”. I wish I knew how to hyper link my own work…anyway, it's in the Sept 2011 year section...

All my clothing gear, including two jackets believe it or not…:

For the male readers, this won’t apply to you but for the chicks, this product is better for the environment and wallet. And it’s a Canadian company! Google it:

This two-in-one mirror/brush has been through some rough times that it finally broke ):

Thank goodness, I have a light back-up comb! And every traveler (especially an Asian) needs a ninja style pair of chopsticks:

 The two-in-one is pretty sweet but check out this badass four-in-one. To all the gals and gays who want to keep their nails lookin’ good, this is a must:

As a modern day solo female traveler, I wouldn’t feel complete without my gadgets. They keep me connected with family, friends and capture most of my experiences:

And allow me to carry more reading than I could ever imagine:

Pulling a McGyver when the occasion calls. One luxury I afforded myself before France was upgrading from my degrading Acer netbook to a fancy MBP:

The next four pics are items I cannot travel without. In Malaysia, I met the guy who sits next to the guy that designed the Spork. The Swedes are brilliant industrial designers. Did you know the guy gets one penny for every Spork sold? Probably the smartest Christmas gift I’ve ever requested was my Swiss Army knife – thanks big brother! My travel towel and sleeping bag liner weigh next to nothing and dry faster than I can slice a baguette open with my Swiss Army Swag. The sleeping bag has saved me from creepy crawlies in dodgy beds. Yep.

I’m totally going to plug my friend’s product here. During my pit stop in Toronto before heading to France, I met up with an old friend who makes animal cruelty-free personal grooming products. Check out her products at: and help support the handmade revolution!

Becks, thanks a million for this delicious soap!

When my friend Andrea C joined me in Cambodia, I asked her to bring me one of those reusable nylon shopping bags that tuck into themselves like they barely existed. Well, she did one better by having our good friend Asmin C pass along some swag from one of our suppliers at lululemon.

This lightweight yet indestructible shopping bag is about the size of my iPhone. And it carried my bed linen when I was in Bali:

All these little things along with a few I haven’t mentioned, add up to weight that must go into my main pack and my daypack. And just to completely nerd myself out, here are the numbers:

Total weight of my gear is 19.25Kg (42.35lbs).
However, if I remove the pack weights when empty, I lose 3.35Kg (7.37 lbs) making my actual gear 15.9Kg (34.98 lbs)

You might be wondering how I got these numbers. Well, math does not run in my Asian blood (I know, what?!) And this may not be an essential travel item, but the slight OCD in me travels with one.

This awesome digital scale allows the geek in me to weigh just about anything:

As I reflect on all the shtuff I have with me, I know I can still trim off more weight on the scale. Like do I really need to have 12 pairs of G-strings? But, but they were on sale at Undiz!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Puppies, Teachings and Learnings

mercredi le 2ème janvier, 2013; 14:31
emplacement: Ajuntamente de Roses, Costa Brava, Spain
pourquoi: Parce que je n'ai pas écrit depuis longtemps. And playing catch up.

Leave it to my good friend Andrea C to ask why I haven't written in a while. I love having friends who make me accountable. I have no excuses save for the fact that I have been a little bit lazy. Alright, let me write about shtuff that's been happenin'.

Back in mid November, my host family finally decided on getting another dog. It had been 10 months since their last dog, Vergule (which cutely enough means 'comma' in French) passed away. We piled into the family car and drove 2 hours to a village somewhere in the countryside to see the litter. There, we picked up the latest edition to la famille Dimouchy, a mixed terrier name Pin Up.

Yep, Pin Up.

She looks like a tiny lion with her ginger fur and black markings:

Alice with Pin Up, whom she has also decided to name "Étoile":

It was a joyous day for my host family. Pin Up is so damn cute it almost makes me wanna get one myself. Almost. JP, we'll talk about it...

And in other news, I started my French studies in the beginning of November at the Alliance Française de Lyon, a reputable language school found throughout the western world. My classes run Monday to Friday from 12:30 - 15:30. I look forward to getting on the bus everyday for the ride into the city and immersing in the language although sometimes I am left literally tongue tied from speaking it so intensely. Ironically, I am speaking more French at school than I am at home with my host family. 

Alliance Française de Lyon:

Sometimes during break, I come out here on the outdoor patio for a breather:

I also had the opportunity to put the skills I learned from the TEFL training course I took back in February. My instructor and classmates from that course would have been so proud of me! The TEFL methodology works really well!

So in early December, I agreed to give an English lesson for Alice's split grade 3-4 class at her school. Initially, I was nervous about doing this but after consulting with my rock star school teacher sister, I came up with a nice lesson plan for the one hour class.

The topic was: Canada!

The student's English was very basic so I kept the lesson pretty simple. I taught the names of all the provinces and territories by having students pick the names and facts out of a hat and placing it on the correct province/territory. They were all very enthusiastic kids and suddenly I forgot that I was supposed to be nervous. Once I felt the class had a good understanding where all the provinces were, I had them do a worksheet of what they'd just learned orally.

I got a kick out of seeing my work on the board and the students taking it all in while completing their worksheet:

I ended the lesson with a dance freeze using a Justin Beiber video that sure got the kids dancing and laughing:

I left Alice's school on a natural high and thought perhaps I should do this and make some money. However, by the time I got to my French class, I was completely wiped out. I totally crashed; teaching that class had exhausted me. 

Maybe I shouldn't teach. I mean that was just a one hour lesson. I can't imagine doing hours of this five days a week. I struggle with giving 2 hour English lessons to my host sisters each night...hmmm but I did love how "in the moment" I was when teaching the class...

Alas, it is 2nd January and my homestay officially ends tomorrow. We are all in Spain again and while I'm fighting this awful cold, I am looking forward to moving out of my host family's house and into the room at the university in Lyon when we return to France in a couple of days. Mentally and physically, I've gone through many ups and downs with this homestay experience and to be honest, I wouldn't do it again. After having traveled around for so long coming and going as I pleased, the obligations required in this homestay program was really not for me.

Don't get me wrong, my host family is lovely, but it just didn't provide the freedom that I needed. That being said, once I move into Lyon proper, I will have all the freedom that my little heart desires.

My three months living with a French family has taught me about some things I want and don't want in life. And that can only be a positive thing.

As I move forward into 2013, I am filled with anticipation of the next chapter in my life and wanderings. Remember the Dashing Young Buck I mentioned in previous posts? Well, guess who's making the trip over The Pond to see me?

Uh-huh. Stay tuned.

And Family, if you're reading this, um...surprise!