Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Last night the eastern coast of Australia bore witness to a full lunar eclipse. Not a staggeringly rare event since lunar eclipses can occur a few times a year. But you can only behold the spectacle if you are stationed in the right spot. It was the first complete eclipse that could have been viewed in its entirety in Brisbane since 2000.

Chris and I drove up to the top of Mt Cootha and enjoyed an impromptu picnic as we watched the observation area fill with both avid astronomers and casual onlookers. For an evening we were a part of a community compelled to satisfy curiosity and witness a moderately elusive event.

Some patchy clouds partially obscured our views but as the eclipse reached its height we were able to watch the orb turn a dusty rose. For a moment we were among people briefly exiting from their all too often pedantic lives to marvel at the magnitude of the cosmos. We were reminded that while sometimes our own lives can seem unbearably overwhelming that we are a part of a greater scheme in which when the components are properly aligned something extraordinary can be perceived.

I once heard a character on a now defunct WB teenage drama comment that “Things need to happen to you at the exact right moment in your life or they are meaningless”. While I don’t necessarily subscribe to such an extreme viewpoint on the fleeting significance of life’s events I do believe there is a measure of synchronous colluding required for us to fully appreciate the true essence of the moment.

Take the daily sunset as an example. Nature puts on a showing in changing technicolour on a nightly basis yet rare are the days that I actually take note of this wondrous display. Perhaps I am just not outside or clouds are obscuring the sky or maybe I am just to absorbed in a personal melodrama to fully recognize the beauty.

How many other moments in my life casually drift by without particular notice because I am preoccupied and unopen to discernment?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

joining the ranks of the thirty-something

With much reflection, minor fretting, moments of fleeting excitement and admittedly a few mild panic attacks my thirtieth birthday has passed with relative ease. My ten day series of themed lists gave me the opportunity to reflect back on a decade of life that saw fundamental structural changes in my life. My twenties began after a brutal year at university that shattered more than one illusion of what life after high school would entail for me. I returned to school that autumn with a budding realization that my life would take unforeseeable turns and the paths that would present themselves would not take the form I had envisioned.

Somehow it seems fitting that I have celebrated the start of this new decade of my life residing in a situation that would have been impossible for anyone to anticipate. I am living in a country thousands of miles from my friends and family and learning subjects far removed from my original course of study.

Sensing that I was on the cusp of an existential crisis, Chris had been preoccupied with creating a day that would allow us to mark the occasion in a fittingly memorable style. He had made arrangements for us to dive the HMAS Brisbane, a wreck sunk off the Sunshine Coast. But the weather was not to cooperate with the skies letting loose an onslaught of rain for days on end that left our destination in the grips of rising flood waters. With the turbulent surf we further suspected visibility would not be ideal for exploring underwater enviros anytime soon.

So it was on to plan B which began with a lovingly prepared breakfast of pancakes and vegetarian sausages.

My morning of being happily spoiled continued with several hours of pampering at Apollo's, a local day spa. This surprise was moderately spoiled by a call the night before by a receptionist confirming my appointment for the next morning. So I was enlightened to the location but not the associated activities. I was stunned at what awaited me at the spa.

I was first shown to the bathhouse which was constructed in the traditional Korean style. The bathhouse routine incorporates relatively quick transitions between temperatures, either through submersion in a hot tub for several minutes followed by a cold bath or time in a dry sauna succeeded by a cold shower.

Initially the nakedness element was daunting. While I am not entirely squirmish at the idea of nudity in confined public places with only members of the same sex, (likely due to all the occasions spent in swimming locker rooms in my formative years), I am also not prone to parading about in all my natural glory. However, after a brief duration my hesitations were quelled by the liberation offered by the collective nude states of the other patrons.

After some time moving between the baths and the sauna my pampering treatments began. First up was an exfoliating sea salt rub followed by a clay wrap with meant having my body literally painted in mud and then being wrapped in a tinfoil type material. Luckily they left one of my arms free so I could sip a glass of champagne while I flipped through celebrity gossip magazines. After washing off the dried remnents of the clay experience I was treated to an hour long massage that provided me with a level of relaxation I have rarely experienced.

So overall truly an experience that I will not soon forget. Perahps it was all the relaxation and pampering but I awoke this morning wtih an altered perception on life. No longer are all the upcoming life-altering occasions (a wedding, a graduation, a restart to my career, a move to Canada) anxiety inducing events to be feared but I am starting to see them as opportunities for fresh starts filled with potential. Perhaps this getting older thing isn't something to be dreaded as we are so often conditioned to think.

Friday, August 24, 2007

ten lessons i have learned

10. people come in and out of your life and that isn't necessarily a bad thing. i like to think of people coming together like balls on a pool table. you make contact and bounce off each other in new directions with a revived energy.

9. if these people truly touched your life a part of them will stay with you always

8. in general everything you read, hear or see in the media should be taken with a grain of salt. all sources are coloured with a degree of bias. the best approach is to simply absorb like the proverbial sponge from as many sources as possible and assimilate the information into your own opinions

7. you can travel far away but you can't move away from yourself. the escape mentatility really only provides a temporary distraction but if the getaway is spurred by an inherent belief that the grass is greener it may be more prudent to look within yourself

6. venturing out on your path is more satisfying when you maintain connections with the truly important people. these relationships don't just maintain themselves, they require nuturing.

5. there is a degree off inevitability and uncontrollability in life. recognizing these situations is important because it means you can focus on the things that are changeable and truly important

4. we all have our unique gifts and there is no weakness in the admission that there are certain things at which you don't excel

3. you can actually go back, but only if you don't expect nothing to have changed

2. experiences in life are better enjoyed when you are taking care of yourself physically and emotionally

1. travel and adventure adds seasoning to life but there is something to be relished in the stability of routine as well

Thursday, August 23, 2007

ten photos with good memories

Todays entry is less of a list and more of a photo montage. These ten photos may not be stellar visual specimans but each one evokes a memory of a unique moment in the past decade. Well, more fittingly from the past five years since the advent of digital photography has made the capture of moments all the more convenient and cost effective.

Trekking the Inca Trail - 2002

Departing for Australia with Kirsten - 2003

Crossing into Laos across the Mekong - 2003

Sampling the delights of the Barossa Valley - 2004

Enjoying the view along the Icefields Parkway - 2005

Fun with the girls at Heather's wedding - 2005

Hiking with Chris in Golden - 2005

With my Spanish teach Apa at the markets in Guatemala - 2005

Watching the sunset in Nicaragua - 2006

With my mom in Nicaragua on our volcanic climb - 2006

At Salon Tecun in Guatemala with my Spanish school friends - 2007

Okay, so that was technically 11. But all good times.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

ten things i've been grateful for in my 20s

10. that i always have a home to return to in Guelph

9. that i had the opportunity to live in one of Canada's most spectacular national parks

8. that i have generally been physically healthy and I was inspired by my parents to be fit and active

7. that i meet Nadine and Heather and we've maintained strong friendships even with my many absences

6. that i have been welcomed into Chris's family in Australia

5. that my sisters have established fulfilling lives for themselves

4. that my parents continue to provide me with an example of a supportive and loving relationship

3. that i had the chance to step off my career track. reevaluate and rediscover my options

2. that I have travelled many miles on five continents, seen countless spectacular sights, met dozens of inspiring people and experienced innumberable unique escapades

1. that i went to that bar that night and met that boy

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

ten random memories of times enjoyed

10. treking through the highlands of Thailand, sleeping on floors of wooden huts and for the first time witnessing a completely different way of life first hand

9. driving to Montreal with the girls for the Jazz Festival in a car with no air con, only making it to Kingston on the first night and having a great time wandering the city despite certain encounters with the criminal element

8. heading out to baldwin street after my final exam as an undergrad and drinking Sangria on a patio, moving on for more drinks downtown and finally ending up at the Phoenix for some dancing

7. lying in a hammock at a practically deserted beach on Koh Phagnan Thailand for three days reading book after book

6. attending the 'best conference ever' in trois rivieres with the crew from indy0T0

5. being a bridesmaid in Heather's wedding and loving every girly minute that came with that honour

4. hosting Christmas, housewarming, go-awaying and no real reason at all parties with Nadine at our glenforest apartment

3. travelling to Cozumel with my family and savouring my first experience of scuba diving in tropical waters with all the pretty coloured fish

2. taking the train all around England, staying in hostels and hiking through lush green countrysides on my very first solo journey

1. driving the Icefields parkway for the first time with Chris and Kirsten in our van Franklin, being utterly amazed at the majestic scenery and knowing that this would be a neighbourhood for the next six months in this unforgettable area

Monday, August 20, 2007

ten places i've enjoyed a bite

10. fish and chips at the waterfront in Wynnum, Australia

9. grilled prawns from the wandering bbq ladies on the beaches of Vietnam

8. pad thai from street vendors in Bangkok

7. ornately designed sushi at an insanely expensive restaurant in Los Angeles thanks to a company expense account

6. breakfast of fluffy omelets from the Blue Toque in Fernie, BC

5. gallo pinto wrapped in a banana leaf from the street food lady in Granada, Nicaragua

4. picnic of cheese, baguette and wine in Champs de Mars park underneath the Eiffel Tower

3. christmas tamales at the home of my host family in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

2. traditional Laoation dinner in Phonsavan, Laos

1. dinner of provencal food in a courtyard backdropped by a gothic cathedral in Avignon, France

Sunday, August 19, 2007

ten accomplishments of which i am proud

10. earning an undergraduate degree in Industrial engineering

9. becoming an advanced PADI certified diver

8. running the Vancouver marathon

7. returning to school to complete a masters degree

6. completing four half marathons

5. receiving the Centennial thesis award

4. learning spanish at a relatively intermediate level

3. loosing 38 lbs and keeping it off (for the most part)

2. being made redundant and using it as an opportunity to change the course of my life

1. finding a fantastic life partner and working together to overcome the hurdles in our relationship

Saturday, August 18, 2007

ten sunrises & sunsets i've watched

10. while enjoying a picnic in the Champs de Mar and then watching the Eiffel tower light up

9. while climbing Volcan Santa Maria in the cool and early Guatemalan morning

8. while enjoying a candlelight dinner in the shadow of volcanos on the roof of our hostel in Antigua

7. while drinking cocktails on the beach in San Juan del Sur

6. while awaking in a tent on my first beach camping trip

5. while freezing my butt off in the Australian outback near Uluru

4. while drinking wine on the pier on the waterfront in Wynnum

3. while sitting on the beach in Port Douglas, Australia - my first sunrise over the pacific ocean

2. while overlooking the floodplains of Ubirr in Kakadu National Park

1. while hiking the final metres of the Incan trail and then watching the mists rise off the ruins of Manchu Picchu

Friday, August 17, 2007

ten fun activites in which I engaged

10. surf safaried up the New South Wales coast - I never really got the knack the standing on a board but one special evening as I was paddling out into the waves I witnessed a school of dolphins that made the entire experience worthwhile.

9. bungee jumed in New Zealand - this was more nauseous than fun and it will never be completed but I am glad I tried it at least once

8. saw paris at night from the top of the eiffel tower - after purchasing Heineken beers from a man carrying a cooler we decided to take the elevator 'right to the top'

7. camped on a beach - there is something so pure about waking up in the soft sand and watching the sunrise over the ocean

6. attended spanish school - it made my brain hurt on more than one occasion but it is true what they say about full immersion being the only way to learn a language

5. hiked the inca trail - the scenery, the amazing people I met, the challenge and of course the astounding mythical Manchu Piichu made this one of the most amazing four days of my 20s

4. sailed in the whitsundays - three days of living in my bikini, diving straight off the boat into clear blue waters, drinking under a sky of stars and then being rocked to sleep....not too shabby

3. climbed a volcano - well two actually. both up there with some of the hardest things I've ever done but worth it anyway

2. scuba dived - i may have learned in a chilly Canadian lake, but I won't be repeating that after experiencing the warm tropical waters of Mexico, Honduras and Australia. If I weren't a poor student I would be doing so much more of this.

1. toured western canada in a van - we parked in deserted campsites and nearly froze to death on more than one occasion but for a brief time we had no time limits and no schedule. we just enjoyed the amazing scenery on offer.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

ten great places i've enjoyed a drink

10. martinis atop the Manulife building at the Panorama lounge post iron ring ceremony

9. assorted cocktails enjoyed while sitting on tiny plastic chairs on the curb of Khao San Road, Bangkok

8. litres of beer in the cold wind tunnel that is Salon Tecun, a local hangout for young Guatemalans and visiting spanish students in Quetzaltenango

7. all inclusive cocktails at the Barcelo resort in the Dominican Republic

6. vodka and cranberry atop the Rex Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

5. beers at the campsite bar on the final night of our four night Inca Trail trek in Peru

4. many many glasses of wine while touring the vineyards of the Barossa Valley

3. beer lao while relaxing on tubes floating down the Nam Song River outside Vang Vieng, Laos

2. caipirinhas during happy hour at the Hostel Central in Granada, Nicaragua

1. countless bottles of red wine enjoyed in various locales while chatting with Nadine and Heather

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

ten memorable places i've lived

10. Whitney Hall, Toronto - I started my 20s by opting for a second year in university residence which meant more meals at Fung but a third floor room with views of the CN tower.

9. The Pink House on Robert, Toronto - infested with mice but with the appeal of proximity to campus

8. 77 Hazelwood, Guelph - my parents may have moved homes but they still welcomed me back here anytime I was 'between addresses'

7. 21 boxgrove, Wynnum - Colleen welcomed me into her home first as a poor backpacker and later as a poor student. Only 10 minutes from the ocean it meant many runs along the waterfront.

6. La Casita, Nicaragua - the volunteer house in Granada where I lived with a veritable revolving door of fellow volunteers. It was overrun with ants of varying sizes but there was always people around with whom to have a great chat.

5. Westerham, Taringa - the first apartment that Chris and I could truly call our own. It was decorated on a budget but came with the liberating feeling of independence.

4. Fernie, BC - a couple different roofs covered my head in this little locale but its appeal was mostly in its small town charm. Cozy coffee houses, one small main street dotted with arty shops and the world's greatest omelettes at the Blue Toque

3. Sunwapta Falls Resort - Our room may have had the dimensions of an oversized shoe box but I would awake in the morning and tilt my head at just the right angle without even raising it from the pillow and I would be greeted with the most spectacular mountain backdrop. Then of course the were the frequent black bear sighting in the vicinity.

2. Our Dodge Ram van - travelling through western canada, stopping at deserted campgrounds, For a brief time it was my home on wheels.

1. Glenforest Rd. - The one place I spent the greatest number of consecutive months and it was shared with the world's greatest roommate

Monday, August 13, 2007

watch this space

This blog hasn't seen much action in the past couple of months. I've been neglectful and dismissive in light of discovering other facets of web based communication (namely facebook) in conjunction with the fact that my life has had a distinct lack of blog worthy events of late. So in absence of exciting travel plans or deep and profound anecdotes I've simply let the proverbial cobwebs grow.

A milestone birthday is looming and tomorrow marks the start of the final ten days of my twenties. So this blog is about to temporarily become a self indulgent and narcissistic journey (but really what blog isn't) down memory lane as I reflect upon events of the decade past.

More to come....