Monday, December 27, 2010

One Warm Christmas

It was like a Hollywood movie scene where the family crowds around the delectible table of homemade goodness.

Relishes stewed with love. Iced water dripping with fresh mint, juicy lemons and colourful flowers. Roasted ham on the bone with hand speared cherries. Italian breads, creamy cheeses, crisp tomatoes. Mouthwatering eye candy.

The sun was warm and the skies were cloudless for my first summer Christmas and my first Christmas away from home. The families, the friends, the warmth, the love will not soon be forgotten.

The day started with an emmaculate brunch, followed by a gorgeous lunch and ending with a hearty dinner with the orphans. Good company, good drinks is all it takes to make you feel like you're at home once again. Thanks NZ! Thank you Pomeroys, Gainsfords and my favorite orphans of urban rooms.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Love Letters

I was never a huge fan of cards. I have an appreciation for them, but rarely buy them... Until now.

I've had the most fun wandering into small shops, flipping through sparkeled, colourful cards, choosing which suits which pal.

There is something about being in another hemisphere and getting momentos from someone you love. I skyped my mama Ma today and she got my parcel of holiday cards. Swoon! Shocking realling since the post lady told me I missed the deadline. Now I can't wait for the rest of the crew to get theirs!

Happy Christmas lovers! May magic occur with your loved ones and mistletoe grow above every one of your beautiful heads.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


A flatmate recently loant me a book about traveling called 'No Shitting in the Toilet' by Peter Moore. Four pages in and Moore is histaricaly correct!

This image with the description of travel sums it up perfectly. He says travel isn't about taking a break, as I realize working 6 days a week.

Travel derives from the Latin word 'travail,' now here's the kicker: meaning spending ridiculous amounts of money to be miserable, homesick and frightened! Hahahhahaha! He's so right. It's the experience! There were parts of Thailand where I was miserable. I was homesick when my sister launched her band to the world wide web!! I've been stuck in darkness in an italian train station in a city unknown for 9 hours on a cement patch with an italian man blowing kisses to me all night... Frightening. And I'm spending ridiculous amounts of money in NZ because they have such cool clothes?!

5 star resort holidays are a projected image of what you want your life to be. Traveling will make you feel every emotion you never thought you had.

I am a traveler. And I wouldn't ever change it.

Don't die wondering

The age of discovery is never over when you are the discoverer.

I was skyping with mama Ma the other day and like every loving mother, she got all concerned... About my blog! Haha. Where are all your posts Justine? Are you ok? You aren't blogging! Haha priceless. It's true, I haven't been blogging because my days are becoming a blur. I sleep, I work, I repeat. Of course this isn't what I had planned, I didn't have a plan at all in fact. The truth is, my bank account is empty, I don't even have money to leave the city, let alone the country. Thus equaling an uninspiring writers block.

But because I love my mother so much, I'm going to blog again. About the daily things I run into, the uneventful happenings of her youngest daughter. And in due time Ma, I'll have enough money to blog about me skydiving in queenstown.

The graffiti below, I come across almost daily as I sip my double flat white with soy at my favorite cafe C1.

Don't die wondering is one of the best things you can read on a brick wall whilst soaking in some vitamin D. Live life regretless friends. Look back and turn back if you must but let's squeeze this life for every drop it's got.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


It's quite natural that everyone gets a little homesick on a trip. today is my day... to be utterly, helplessly homesick.

Not only am I actually sick, and this is just where you want your mom, or in my case, my big sister/ best roommate, to make you special tonics and soups, with an abundance of advil; (They don't have advil here. And there is no one to call to from my little caravan. Sigh.) but this said sister just launched her band DreamFace to the world. Now I can't help but brag, these guys are phenomenal and will blow your mind. Be prepared to fall in love with dreams again.

I'm so proud of you DF! You're going to spread love through dreams. I miss you more than you know!

On top of DF, I miss the days where I'd spend hours on 'we heart it' and google reader. I miss my big bed. I miss driving. I miss Lord of the Rings (yes I watched it all the time). I miss the Royal Bison. I miss my jewels. I miss my sister. I miss my girlfriends. I miss my fam. But not enough to book a ticket yet. ;) haha. Love.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Good Morning 26

It's days like today that I fight for. Cloudless skies, eternal sunshine, pressed coffee, and the chance to change.

Farewell quarter life crisis! You will not be missed. This will likely be the only year that I'm ok with growing older and I'm determined to make it great. It's bound to be! I celebrated with my favorite cafe with my favorite friend in warm sunny NZ. This is officially my first warm birthday. Surreal.

As I walked to meet my bestie at C1 cafe, I ponder how life/people can change so quickly. I was never supposed to live here in Christchurch. I never imagined myself working in a pub! I should technically still be in Asia according to my plan... Things change. People change.

As I think this, I imagine what life would be like with a plan... Boring! Life is no dress rehearsal. Life needs no map. Life needs two feet and a heartbeat.

Being 25 taught me great experience. The drive to see something foreign, the adventure of making a new home, the feeling of being terrified to go back, meeting amazing, brilliant people; it's all about the experience.

Welcome 26, I can't wait to get to know you minute by minute, day by day, with nothing further to say but a smile on my face.

Location:Christchurch, New Zealand

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Poom Poom Pom.

It's become quite clear that some of my dear friends have no idea what I'm doing... I'm no longer laying motionless on a beach, nor diving with deep sea critters (although, I'd very much like to).

I'm back with my bestie, kickin' it in Christchurch, New Zealand, slingin' beers at ye 'ol family pub. With 19 taps of craft NZ brewed beers, I have no idea how I will ever come back to Canada without being such a beer snob. I get drunk off a pint and a half?! WTF! There is something in these kegs that turns the Rexall draught into golden garbage! (oh, I feel bad for saying that... I still love you Rexall liquid gold!) I drip beer on my shoes almost every night. I'm still mastering the art of the perfect pour while memorizing the different taps. The locals know me as the replacement Canadian, some even call me Ting, it's real cute. I'm starting my new little work family.

I did have a moment of panic one morning, staring into the white wall, my mind screaming that I needed to go back to MO to design, but it was short lived. I try real hard not to miss my little macbook. There is a reason it was not brought, I needed to try something new and I am. I'm loving it. Creative Suite has officially been swapped with massive amounts of beer. That sounds real unhealthy... but it's true! It's been great, razzing the chef, getting to know the regular old flirty men, meeting people from around the globe!

This is my new life for the next couple of months, that's the update... so come visit!

Plumped Pitter Patters

I slowly gazed down, like slo-motion, to my left breast, and whispered 'whoa.'

Deja Vu for reals.

Although my heart had made a little frown, my lips let out a little giggle and shone a toothy smile. This feeling that was so foreign but not, had a massive impact on me and invoked so many memories. I'm back!! My heart is officially beating once more. Full of feeling and life. Instead of slipping behind a steel wall, my face gives away what my heart is beating.

Memories are flooding back: Ming and I cuddling, giggling on the couch, intertwining our toes. Mother Ma frowning as I scurry out the door on a Sunday evening without leaving her with a hug and a kiss. Tears rolling down my cheeks as I leave a work family. Angry screams from a father who doesn't want me to leave. The warmth of a big white bed on a Sunday morning. Waking up to the variety of five closets!! Intertwining my fingers around my gold chains. Play, love, cry, hurt, comfort, choice, nerves... I remember these quite well and I'm relishing in them all. My heart isn't just on my sleeve, it's seen in my eyes, heard in my speech and felt in my touch. I'm back.

Mission accomplished friends. Let the games begin!



These kicks haven't left my feet since I left Canada August 16, 2010. They have trekked me through the rivers and mountains of South East Asia to the gardens and beaches of the South Pacific. I love you hobo loafers. I need you. Beer stained and tattered, you've shown me the world. I heart you sonuks.

Can someone please send me the back up pair in my closet? haha. For real? Please?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

the Garden city

Every walk, every drive, every blink outside is a realm of Alice's Wonderland. The flora, the fauna in Christchurch is unbelievable. Our little brick house has a garden fit for fairies! When driving to grans house it's as though the walking cards should be painting the perfectly shaped roses red.

How could you not fall in love with a place that is so stimulating?!

The design here is epic. Clinic signs are even beautifully crafted with simple organic logos. Juice containers are made fun with crafted illustrations and hand drawn type.

Christchurch has culture!!

Cafes are swarmed with ladies in long dresses, leggings and scarves. Hipsters roam the streets in their cheap shoes and tattoos. You may think, 'Oh, it seems so lovely because it's new and away from home...' but really, this is a cool city. It's a small city, which clearly I appreciate, it's people are uber friendly and it's cultured. I just randomly came across a Diwali festival of lights as I was walking back to the pub today?! A full on Indian concert with fabulous performances and food vendors to make your mouth water. Another market was filled with different food vendors of the world (even a Thai place from Chang Mai!!).

Christchurch, minus your mini earthquakes, I like you... I like you a lot.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

On my way...

Is it the end of a journey, the middle of an adventure or the start of a new life? I think this as I'm on hour 5 of my layover in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (on my way to New Zealand). I can't tell which it is. South East Asia has come to an end, for now. I definitely feel different. I'm not sure how or what, but I feel a little new, really odd and especially grateful.

Of all the locals I spoke with over the month, I always asked them the same question: 'have you ever left your country?' Surprisingly, they all had the same answer, laughing they said 'of course not, that costs money.'

It's peculiar that something that is so important to you can never be a reality for someone else. Traveling is my passion, it's my priority. To meet people who would like to visit their neighboring country but cannot because of a mere $100 is heartbreaking to me. I'm very grounded by this and more importantly, I feel forever thankful that I have the opportunity to do what I love. I've been raised by a stupendous family who have (whether they liked it or not) supported my needs and desires to travel. There is something about leaving homebase for 2 days or 33 days that is quite freeing. Nothing to worry about but that day, the prestent.
Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift, that is why they call it the present. That was a quote from a book that I had read on this trip that was so fitting. This is what I've gained, embracing the now. Living like the old man in Chang Mai, peacefully, calmly, independently and most of all appreciatively. Thank you world, universe and gods. To be carefree and worry-less is freedom.

My eyes have soaked in many memorable things that I will never forget. Tiny village girls dropping their price by 90% just to make a snippet of money. Tuk tuk drivers racing across the street for your business because it's been days since they've made one dollar. Girls leaving home to teach cooking classes just so they can save money to go to school. Guides taking you on a tour who have lost someone in a genocide. Walking on strewn clothing and bones of a grave site. It's all extremely grounding and really makes you think at the end of the day how lucky we are, how lucky I am and what can I do to make a difference.

My eyes have been opened. My heart has been filled. This has been an uplifting experience and I just hope that it continues. I hope that I forever grow and meet new people and share experiences. Love love.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Phnom Pehn

You are large an in charge Mr. Capital City. You are no chilled Siem Reap. PP is bustling with street stall and motos. I was actually scared again to toss myself in traffic to cross the streets. But just like any Capital, there is so much to be seen.

The history of the Khemer Rouge particularly struck my interest. Anna and I went to the killing fields and the S-21 Museum. It's hard to believe that something so horrific happened not too long agi. 1975 to 1979, my heart goes out to you. Actually walking through the killing fields silenced me. Silenced me! Mass gravesites. Bones. Teeth. Clothing. These items were still surfacing. I walked on someones shirt. I knelt down to see someones tooth. Bound rope around bones was peaking through the sandy dirt. Frightening. Eye opening.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Can I get a Wat Wat?

Possibly one of the most magical ruins I've been to, and my camera officially craps out, which was ok. Some things are meant to be seen with raw eyes.

Vibol, my tuk tuk driver, had met me the night before in my guesthouse in a rather awkward setting. I was getting ready for bed when I heard a knock on the door. Assuming it's a friend, I wrap myself in a towel, prop my toothbrush inside my mouth and peak the door open. Two Cambodian men stand there straight, my face goes red and all I can think of is their customs and how inappropriate this must be. Vibol blushes, and tells me he's a friend of Melissa's (who is a friend of Chelsey's, whose recommended him to me). I immediately tell him to hold on, quietly close the door and rush to throw some clothes on and spit out my colgate. Yep, embarassing. Vibol and I made some arrangements for the following day.

Bright and early we tuk tuk our way to Angkor Wat. Overwhelming. Yes. I'm shocked that tourists are still climbing the sacred structures. It really is a magical place. A must see whilst it still stands.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Siem Reap has certainly been a favorite city during this journey.

The people are just so warm and friendly. The food is so delectible. The markets, a perfect size. I believe North Americans need to take some lessons from Cambodians. A smile goes a long way, and it's not creepy, sexual or scary. It's a smile. It's warm and contagious. For those who read this, please smile at someone. Your tuk tuk driver, your bank teller, your computer, the fellow driver next to you, a stranger, just smile. Please. For me. Let's start a trend. Feel warm today friends.

Photo: Vibol, my new friend.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I've met some killer solo travelers in the past, who have even become my closest friends and I think I've found another. Australian Anna. The woman with an actual heart of gold.

After one night in a semi-scuzzy guesthouse with crickets jumping all over me, I opted to move. Anna was also moving to a different place to meet her friends. I trotted along side her, we jumped in a tuk tuk and made our way to the Golden Mango. I felt like I was traveling with my parents!! Beautiful wooden floors, the most heavenly English speaking staff, complimentary breakfast and tuk tuks, and wait for it... free internet and wifi! The Golden Mango, two of my favorite things: gold and mangos, surely this was THE place for me. Dream come true.
After settling into our lavish rooms, we made our way to the Cambodian Childrens Hospital. We bought a big bag of goodies for the kids and I watched Anna donate blood. What a saint! Unfortuneately we weren't able to play with the kiddies, but we left our bag of goodies with the smiling receptionist and bought some very fitting friendship bracelets.

A very patient tuk tuk driver took us to Seeing Hands. A massage parlour run by blind men, very cool experience. Tucked away in a shotty alley was a tiny open room with 4 beds and a backroom. We changed into some scrubs and were treated with the magic hands of two blind fellows.
Lunch at the Blue Pumpkin made us feel like we were in NY or Milan with their streamlined industrial interior.

Peruzing the market was the perfect way to end the afternoon. We met Annas friends later for dinner, which was the best food I've had during the trip.

Siem Reap, I'm in love!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Journey of the Buses

After visiting so many magical places, I can no longer pick a favorite.

It took 38 hours on 4 buses and 2 iPods but I've made it to Cambodia. Thankfully, it wasn't nearly as bad as it sounds or as bad as people made it sound.

Bus One: Packed. Just the standard Asian bus. I prompt myself down beside a Malaysian Reggae man who plays the uke in a band and has dreads to his bum. He was rad.
Bus Two: We had a short hour in Vientienne. After driving through the city, I wished that I had planned to stay for a night or two. Visually, it was hustling. People were loitering the night streets, they situated themselves in pubs, shops were birghtly lit. Ruins were perfectly placed in the centre of streets. It reminded me of the perfect blend between Beijing and Guonghouz. Mmmm, this is making me want Chinese food! I know my dad will hold me to this statement since I never crave Chinese food ;) The infamous night bus. Dun dun dun! I must say I'va had a horse shoe with me on this trip. I lucked out and got my very own bed on the sleeper bus. Good thing too. These 'beds' were maybe 3' wide and maybe 5'5" long. I certainly slept diagonally just so I could stretch out. I can't imagine what it would have been like with a partner, let alone a stranger! Nightmare. It was quite loud, and very bumpy. My best friend was my iPod 'soothe me' playlist. We kept each other sane the entire night.

Bus Three: Arriving in Pakse, I had no idea I was on the VIP bus, and I wasn't about to say anything after the 'sleep' I just had. They say there is no difference between the regular and the VIP bus. Oh my friends, there is a difference, a lazy boy difference! And for the first time in Asia, the bus wasn't full. Heavenly.

The Cambodian border was strange. Small huts were speckled over one city block on either side. We slowly zig zagged our way to each hut where we paid $1 to $23 for random papers, health checks and visas. I wasn't about to argue with the Cambodian official walking around in his socks. Back on the bus I was ready to settle back into the 9 hour drive in my big comfy red leather when a small man runs down the bus calling 'Siem Reap.' We can't be here already? Of course not. We are moved to...

Bus Four: A small, rickety bus where the driver honked his horn every 20 seconds. Oh Asia, you're back!

Saturday, September 11, 2010


We went on the most beautiful 6 hour drive, I have ever been on! Taking a mini buss cramped beside two Laosian men was the best thing so far. I hung out the passenger side window to take in the untouched mountains with snake like vines, King Kong forests, sheets of rock. Laos is stunning. It's just that.

The children run amongst the street taking care of one another. The mothers sit on the stoops of their straw huts just content to sit all day long. The little girls are perfect in their tiny collared button shirts and their baby sarong like wrap skirts. The men are a beautiful caramel colour and very good looking.

We are in Vang Vieng now. I was hesitant to come here for the tubing. 90% of the people I meet tell me to stay away but I came anyways. One of the first girls I saw her had her head bandaged and bloody. Another man limped with a wrapped foot. And then we found out later that a girl died last week, drown. Deterring? Not quite. I'm a good swimmer I tell myself. And I watch my liquor intake...

River tubing was better than the full moon. Unreal party! So many bars, so many buckets going around, rope swings, zip lines, slides. No wonder people are injured or at worse drown. The river was raging too. If we stayed on the river with no stops we'd be down in no time. It's certainly no Pembina that we're used too. This was great! Towards the end our group of tubes were separated. I didn't make it to the last bar, only because I couldn't hold on to the rope the Lao man threw to me to pull me and my new South African friend in... the current was far too strong. So we floated. We watched the sun slip behind the jungled mountains... and we floated some more. He hung on to my leg so we wouldn't separate and I kept spinning to see if the rest were coming... nope. They clearly made it to the last bar. Eventually we made it to the side of the river where I slipped off my tube, not so gracefully, and made it back to the main street. River tubing. Highly recommended. YouTube it, it's a wild time.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I started my day on a tour along the not so sweet chocolatey river, the Mekong. Lush mountains with low clouds kissing the tops. It was like a movie.

We eventually made it to a cave with over 400 Buddhas placed over the years from pilgrims. But the best part of the day was the waterfall. Like the elvin forest, I just expected to see hobbits jump out from behind the misty curtain.

Midway up the tiered mountain, Sean was daring enough to climb a small tree and swing like a monkey into the icy blue pool. Having far too much fun, he convinced me to try it. I haven't jumped off anything since breaking my tailbone in Corfu from cliff jumping, so naturally my legs are shaking as I take on the mini climb. It would have been far more troubling to turn back... so jump it was.

On the way too and from these destinations we stopped at small villages. I came on this journey looking for an eye opening experience, and Laos has given it to me tenfold. Living simply is an understatement for these people. It was enlightening and heartbreaking at the same time. Laos is a true beauty and I'm so happy that I made it here. THIS is the experience I was hoping to have; being taken aback by landscape, playing with smiling village children, watching young monks venture with their book bags and the food. My goodness, those backpackers that lost weight trekking clearly skipped Laos, because the food is unreal! Sweet breads are as tasty as China's, their pastries are as delicate as Paris'.

Laos, you are a sight for sore souls!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Luang Prabang

Reunited with the boys, we set off on a plane with two propellers. While shaking in the sky over the Mekong, I can tell Laos is an untouched gemstone. I wander the city and come across a local festival with boats racing on what looks like Willy Wonka's chocolate river, the Mekong.

Lost. I eventually turn on the navi skills and wiggle my way back through the crowded streets. The city is very small and there are few tourists, likely from the midnight curfew (loved it).

LP, you most certainly are going to be a new adventure.

mission accomplished

As my goal of visiting Thailand in 2010 comes to an end, I find myself very awake. Miss Thailand, you weren't at all what I expected to find and I look forward to coming back to you to see what other amazing things you have to offer. Your country melts my heart with your scenery and smiling faces.

Being here has made me feel so much more passion for my country, my family and my dear friends. Now that I've had the opportunity to be completely and openly free, I can realize the gems in my life. I know what makes me happy and how to live simply (simple enough for my Canadian being).

Thank you Thailand for the freedom you've donned on me. I will never forget your aromatic streets, lady boys and beautiful beaches. I can assure you that I will be back to see more untouched lands and rice fields. xo.

Monday, September 6, 2010


I ate breakfast today at an ultra hippy die. A man sat at the table next to me flipping through his sketchbook at what looked to be perfectly vectorized black markings. He looks like Confucious. He turned to me as I garcefully mixed my museli and asked if I was Japanese. I smiled and said I was Chinese. Intrigued. He said, him too. Halfers. Reunited. He was cute.
I quite liked this place so I went back in the afternoon for a shake and some internet time. I inquired if he taught art, he told me he could do whatever I wanted for 1000 BAH. Unfortunately I'm backpacking and pretty much too cheap for even a 30 BAH tuk tuk ride (PS 30 BAH is approximately $1 CAN, yes, I'm pinching my pennies).
On my way home from the Night Bazaar I again stopped by for some food and some fresh carrot juice. He told me to sit down, it'll taste like home. Cute.
After I paid he gave me a little pep talk. As if he knew my woes in life. Mind reader? He told me I had hands. I should use them. Using our hands will make us happ. It is our own accomplishments. We wash ourselves with our own hands. We clothe ourselvs with our own hands. We cook for ourselves with our own hands. We can't just be happy for one or two days. We must be happy all the time, he says. He told me that when I eventually go back home, I will do this. I will do it because everyday we learn. Everyday there is a problem, but no problem because we, with our hands, will fix it. We learn to deal with problems and we be happy.
Now this inspiring broken english conversation would have continued, but we were rudely interupted by a one legged, drunken, German man who wouldn't stop calling until Mr. Wise went over to him. I quietly snuck passed the drunken mess while the halfer was tending to his situation, grabbed my shoes and told myself I would be back for breaky. They are afterall, the only place that I've seen to offer brown bread. Hallelujah!
Photo: this is the man punching rice paper creating delicate designs. Ever so pretty.

Chang Mai

You are pretty lax Chang Mai, and I totally dig it.

I have seen more Thai people than Caucasian people... this is a good sign.

Unfortunately I've come down with something... I'm not sure what... but it's not allowing my body to really move (I hope it's not the green bubbles... scuba joke). Advil and aspirin have been my buddies for the last two days. And I love them for it. I'm flying solo now, so I have to heal myself; unfortunately that means no cool adventures that I was so hoping to do. Trekking in the jungle is the thing to do here... but the last thing I want is to be sick in Laos, or worse, pass out in the jungle!

So a new book was bought, I've already seen a large amount of the city thanks to my little tuk tuk driver. I've bought two pair of pants that I'm really not sure how to rock and some incense.


It would be a lot easier to relax if I wasn't dripping wet. It's so hot here and there is no turquoise ocean to jump into, only dirty rivers. I even have a hot shower which I was giddy about this morning... now I miss those cold showers on the islands... what is my world coming to? Ha! I'd say my world is going pretty well considering the only thing I have to complain about (minorly) is my shower.

Yep. I'm going to get a massage.

Practice what you Preach


I've been saying it to people for months and now realize that I am the one that needs to follow it: you must love yourself before you are able to love anyone else. Yes. This is true.

2010 you have been rough. I realize that I, myself have been vacant, empty, heartless, blank. To my friends and family, I do apologize. It's now my mission to fill my heart with compassion and love. To simply live and love. Two different psychics told me that I was emotionally unstable... perhaps this was the first sign of my retreat.

Challenge accepted.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Missing Koh Tao

We arrived in Koh Phi Phi finally after a hilarious night ferry. Snuggled close with 100 other passengers. It's visually stunning here (aside from the heaps of garbage laying around). But I already miss Koh Tao. My daily routine in Koh Tao could have been my new life. During my last days on my favorite island, I said some sad goodbyes to the beautiful Dries and Vanessa, my irreplaceable dive buddies; and celebrated my new friend Sarah's 20th birthday!! Four British lovelies, me, too many vodka chocolate shakes and 3 too many buckets. It turned out to be an unforgettable evening, the perfect end to my friend Koh Tao.

Now I've thought about diving in Phi Phi but it's just so expensive and I'm becoming responsible after a mere 19 days!

I'm realizing now that I've almost completed my goal of seeing Thailand in 2010, the other countries are just bonuses. I think I will cut a few places out. I can rip through Laos, meditate through Cambodia and go home to New Zealand. I use the word home here because 1. Poom is there and 2. I feel like I will fall in love with that picturesque chunk of land and never want to come home. Plus, life will just be so different when I don't have to conserve shampoo or toilet paper, and be able to do laundry in a machine, rather than my sink. I'm anxious to wear normal clothes and actually be able to shop and not worry about trekking countries with my splurges on my back. I'm certainly anxious to see NZ and Poomeroy. I'll be there soon Pooey.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I miss Mike. Sigh.

I spoke with my workmate, Mike on FB chat, I know he hates FB chat, so I know he misses me too. I find myself still asking the question "should I have just taken a 3 week holiday? get this fit over with and head back to real life?" I don't have the answers to all the questions, not even my pendulem does ;) but I do refuse to have regrets.

What 18 days into this adventure has taught me so far about my 'real life' is:
1. I do actually really enjoy designing (maybe Vince was right, maybe I should have brought my laptop with me... but we won't give him that satisfaction, after all, he'll have to deal with my drunken mess when he losed this bet and takes me to the ACE Awards, free drinks all night, what a date!).
2. I really do miss Mike. AND my other workmates. No matter how frustrating work and colleagues can be, I just love those cool cats. My pa always described his staff as his second family and always needed to treat them really special. Now that I know, I'm not coming back, I'm constantly reminded of my MO family whilst I wander down streets, knowing exactly what he means.

Chris: there is always some hardcore jogger taking down the beach in shorty short shorts. PS I heard you made the office do a mandatory run at lunch, good job! haha I'm just glad I wasn't there!

Valery: you really need to go scuba diving and master illustrate the underwater life. It's the most amazing thing I've ever seen. Simply stunning.

Vince: every ginger I see, I cringe and get a little angry inside ;) jk. I just laugh beacause they are lathering up in sunscreen trying helplessly not to burn.

Lorianne: YOU should really be here with me so we can wear Thai pants and get messy. I know you would love this place and likely never leave.

Drew: no one hugs like you do. When I feel homesick I think of you picking me up and cracking my back with your hugs. I need to find someone on these islands that hugs like you... sigh.

Jeff: I didn't think I would, but I miss your grumpy face in the morning! Our sarcastic chats, you even poking me in my easily bruising legs. I miss you, because I know you're like me, tough on the outside and super soft on the inside.

Steffen: I didn't get to work with you long but what I did take away from you was your ambition and initiation. Something that I lack as I laize on these sandy beaches pondering life.

Caitlin: I miss your albino latina ass sending me bass ass Spanish pop songs and pictures of our soccer player.

Jon: oh Jon. No one makes me laugh like you did. And that is quite important. Laughter is the best medicine. It's the best start and end to each day. I need to find someone who can make me laugh like that!

And my Mike: my pal. My bestie. I knew I would miss you because we got so close after K left. Our awkward walks to Safeway. You cringing when I sat too close. You reaching over my shoulder to grab my mouse. Our histarical iChats between 3-4PM to get us through the remainder of the day. Late night handwriting. Chocolate breaks at 2.

We've all had some good times and I miss you little MO family.
Take care of one another, otherwise you'll turn into a hot mess like me, a flubbering baby. And that will just be embarassing.


PS save me some samples of Stollery!!

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Perfect Day?

It started at 6:45 AM, I ate my granola bar on the way to the classroom. (classroom on vacation, I know!) Shortly after arriving we hop into a taxi (and by taxi, I mean we hop into the back of a truck and hold on for dear life with tanks, BCs and regulators). Arriving at the docks, I realize that it's the exact same place where someone tried to sell me a scuba package at a brand new resort, not a big deal though, I'd rather have been on SaiRee Beach where all the action was happening and at my little cottage.

We actually had to crawl through another boat to get to ours. Our boat was a large, wooden, camel coloured beast. I had forgotten my motion sickness bracelets but luckily my hands were free to apply constant pressure to my wrist points.

First Dive: For the life of my, I could not sink. Mee (my instructor) actually had given me his weight, plus shoved some more weights into the pockets of my BC. What the hell!? After 10 minutes of exhaling my lungs out, I made it down to the most peaceful place on earth. Gliding through the deep blue sea was exaclty what I needed. It was perfect. Quiet, other than the exhaling bubbles from your regulator, the sealife, went about their life crossing their busy streets. Why hadn't I done this sooner?! I knew that I had to master the 'relax button' before heading to another non-air breathing world. This year was perfect for that. While intentionally losing our regulator hose and masks at 30' below surface, there isn't much you can do but be calm, find your regulator and put your mask back on.

I'm officially an SSI scuba diver. BOOYA! This day continued with me celebrating on the silica sand, wading in the salty ocean with my fish friends. Another epic stormed rolled in and I watched it until the monsoon rain started.
This place has the most addictive storms I have ever seen. I locked myself in my little bungalo and it was only 6. I wanted to stay in and be anti-social. It's not easy making friends here. People tend to travel in packs or couples. Luckily for me, my dive buddy was there with his girlfriend, from Brussels. One of the coolest couples ever. SO welcoming. Just all around lovely people who seemed to be of a similar mind set. They were really the only ones I wanted to relax with. I do actually love this place. I will stay another night to enjoy it more and see more of the island and really learn to enjoy my own company. Be lost in your thoughts.

I ended the day with reading on my porch then meeting the boys for a delicious lobster/crab feast on the beach.

Perfect day: yes.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

risky business

"You can trudge wearily along the well-worn path, or become gloriously lost in the woods that lie either side."

After reading quite an inspiring email from a friend, I realize that I do need to take some more risks. Not jump out of a plane, wait, I'll be doing that in NZ... bad example; hang out in alley ways after dark but life experience. I'm sure I'll find that while doing the Gibbons Experience in Laos but until then... let's make the best of these beautiful islands.

I know I'm lucky to be in such a picturesque place and blah blee blah bee baaaa but fuck it. I did not come here to hang out in 'irish' pubs and drink my face off. I'm here for the ultimate challenge, the Justine Challenge. Enough princessy priss, toilet paper has become my comodity and I 'shower' in the ocean to save my shampoo. This is what it's come to and it's fabulous!

On the boat to Koh Tao, just 20 minutes to dock we hit the most beautiful storm I've ever seen. It kicked the life back into me. As people were losing their hats and we were pelted with what felt like hail, I felt... I felt serene and happy. This is what's it's about. Adventure. Adventure in it's angriest form.

Koh Tao is beautiful. As soon as we docked, I quickly found my pack in a pile of 150 bags and ran out to find a taxi. I had no booking, I left my 2 mates, and I took a risk. I'm now staying at a really cool little cottage, thanks to the recommendation of Maxine. And I'm on my 3rd day of getting scuba certified. I'm already scared shitless of going 18m deep and equalizing my ever so troubled ears, but the pool lesson was mint. It's pretty scary, but it's something that just needs to be done. If I wasn't doing it, I'd be stuck on this beautiful spit of land having the same feelings I had about Koh Phangan... I assure you, I will try and not make that happen again. Just a little planning and a little leap goes a long way.

Now... I just need to get the confidence to rent a scooter (after Jonny's accident... it's not looking promising) and hit this snorkel site on the other side of the island that I've heard is breathtaking. And I love being a mermaid snorkeler! Hopefully I'll be able to stay another day and get that done, just another step right?

(I do apologize for the lack of photos: 1. I can't plug my camera into these public computers and 2. you guys should know me by now... I don't take photos... sorry)

Friday, August 27, 2010

the moon

Paradise island?

On an island dedicated to the moon, I find myself strangely emotionless. The breathtaking beaches, the bountiful beaches, the smiling backpackers... could it be sensory overload? Am I numb? Or perhaps it's the wrong kind of senses that I planned for this adventure?

It took a matter of minutes to decide whether or not I'd come all this way and go to the famous Full Moon Party. Of course I'd have to go! In my mind a yoga retreat in the north would have been fitting for this quarter life crisis. A break. A break from life.

But the moon! The moon is female, it's where we come from, it's what we track at home. We all know things teater during the full moon. And what better time to be here on this island to celebrate such a beautiful thing.

Two things:
1. Whislt wandering with my fellow ten thousand moon worshipers, I found we were all more focused down on our buckets rather than up to the robust moon.
2. During the 4 to 6 hours I graced Haad Rin beach, I did not see the moon! Really? Did that really happen? yes.

Was this a sign? Is that why I don't feel right now? (I assure you it's not the affect of alcohol. I didn't even finish my one bucket).

Other than those two very important points, I had a great time.

Apart from being overcharged for our hotel and Jonny's epic scooter scar, we are meeting amazing people (I swear half of the UK is here, but that is rad, because I love these brits) abd soaking up the most rich sunrays.

Tomorrow we head to Koh Tao, where I've been giddy to get certified for diving. Unfortunately Shark Week on my iPod will not help this journey, but at least it's teaching me to keep calm in open water. We'll see.

taste of home

From working as a full time designer, part time MAC artist, and freelancer, I find myself oddly tiring of the beach life... alreay?

I know, weird.

It's just unproductive and silly to lay on a beach for 2 days.

Or is it?

I'm either missing my work or my workmates, or both. Both. I didn't think that I would miss work, not after working so much.

It's been 10 days and I'm ready to come home? What kind of adventure would that be? Pathetic. 10 days is a prissy vacation which is not what I've been looking for!

This homesickness will pass. I have a tendency to hide photos inbetween the pages in books and I have a rule to not look at my iPhone albums for at least 2 weeks... I've now found most of my pictures and flipped through those albums twice.


This will pass and most importantly, I will not lose the bet I have going against my Vringer. Nothing than I hate more than to lose against a ginger.

At least I know a little piece of home is in the South Pacific. Poom! I might be coming early so you can cure my disease.

Friday, August 20, 2010

to be free

I now realize what a trip this is really becoming. Have I gone completely off the edge? I understand now why my parents, grandparents, even boss freaked out about. This could have been a 3 week holiday but Year of the Tiger, you have actually kicked my ass! What better thing to do after a good ass kicking than to go on a life journey (or breakdown and have a full blown quarter life crisis). Experience is priceless. Culture is educating. And really, I need to get grounded. I need to know what this life can offer besides post secondary and marketing agencies. No more spoiled Ting... it's time to get gritty, appreciate it and share these lessons with the people I meet in life.

It wasn't until 10 minutes before I landed in Bangkok that I knew what 'to be free'* really meant. Sitting there engaged by the clouds and the Mekong out the window with a huge open smile on my face. I was oddly happy. A feeling that I haven't felt in quite some time. Sure I'm filled with giggles and have fun with my mates, but this was for me and only me. Euphoric. It was strange. I bet the two Chinese ladies thought I was crazy as I would glance at them then back out the window. They must have thought it was my first plane ride. Ha.

After trekking with our packs through the Bangkok airport, I felt like a seasoned traveler. Knowing what to accept and not to accept. Bang on Bangkok! I love it here. Visually the city reminded me so much like Southern China, so naturally, I was comfortable.

Our hotel is great, it's quaint with lots of bugs, nothing that I'm not used to. We are super close to Ko San Road which is like a backpackers hot spot. It's great to sit and people watch and feel very thankful that I wasn't the one walking down that road with my 25 pound pack in the rain!

We are heading to Koh Pangan tomorrow night on a sleeper train... well hopefully it's a sleeper train. One day in and Bangkok already has me by the balls (excuse my language mum)! But really there is nothing this girl can do but just blush, giggle and be mega thankful that I have a little money left in my savings account. Laughter is the best medicine right? But does it make you money? This is the question... might have to head to NZ early and beg someone for a job. But we won't worry about that just now... but just in case... I'll be accepting donations for the 'Get Justine Back to Canada Fund.' I assure you friends and family, it's for a legitimate cause, the money will actually get me back home... for now.

(J2 get a tuk tuk ride from a super friendly driver. After our first destination, we tried to get him a gas coupon from a tailor shop... ya... I was in that tailor shop the day before and it was stuffed with fabrics and Indian men, and they over quoted me on a silk sleep sheet x2!... if anyone has any idea where to get a silk sheet for pennies, you let me know!)

(Singha beer for my big lipped, twin toed mate, thank you for introducing me to such a tasty and refreshing delight!)

Special SHOUT OUT to my knowledgeable friends who have made me feel super comfortable with traveling to SE Asia and not getting ripped off by taxis or tuk tuks: Larry, Chelsey, Serene, Maxine, all you cool cats, THANK YOU!


*to be free: next tattoo?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I heart HK

It's true. I've rekindled the relationship that I once had. I now remember why I love the bustling, aromatic streets of Hong Kong.

The people still stare. They don't tend to smile until you buy something from them. And the markets are abundent with goods.

It's likely a good thing that I'm here with "Jonny" (in quotes for my MO peeps) as I don't think he likes to shop... so it's kind of keeping me away from the incredible, cheap, colourful marketplaces. Although... I did have to go to Jade Market and see this little Chinese lady that I've seen on my past trips to Hong Kong. Silly me, I've forgotten earrings?! I know, of all things... so instead of risking my ears closing, I opted to splurge a tiny on a pair of minty jade studs. They probably weren't worth the money, and I probably could have gotten more of a discount... but hey, this lady and I have a history and let's be honest, when you make this girl blush, I'll get played over like a fat kid and a plate of cupcakes.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I have the best mom ever. I roll into the office and she's sitting outside in her car... making me nervous, I hop out of my car and she's waiting with a surprise cake for my bon voyage. so sweet! literally, it was so sweet. 5 lbs of chocolate put the MO office peeps in a coma. well done Mama Ma. xo.

Monday, August 9, 2010


so I have my mini bottle of white flower oil, I'd say I'm ready to go! this potent vile cures so many things, what more would I need ;)

everything is cuter when it's tiny... no?

this time in 7 days, I'll be halfway to Beijing. yep. less than 7 days now. wow.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

in 12 days...

I'll be prancing on Nathan Road... where my pa grew up.
Yep, that's his old place (above)... right across the street from some super fancy mall.
Oh Hong Kong, I've missed you.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


33 days.
the countdown begins.
I need to start preparing... now.

Monday, June 28, 2010