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.