Friday, November 30, 2007
Okay, let's face it, I haven't really been sharing much of anything on this thing recently.
But I think it's important to just say, at this moment, I am really really happy. I am so content and peaceful and blissful. I'm just perfect.
I suppose this surprises even me a little bit becaseu I have to say, a couple of weeks ago, I was not this. I was very not happy. Very un blissful. Very "I'm going home" uncontented.
There are times of helplessness, times of shear out-of-controlness, that you want to grab hold and do something drastic, if only to assert the power that you are in control.
D pointed out to me that I made it for quite some time before I declared that I was done, threw my toys out of my pram and decided that the next flight back to Toronto would have me on it.
It's slightly scary to think that is your only option. Slightly libertating as well. And, on the other side, even better to realise that no, you're not perfect and yes, anything in life will try you but you don't give up. You don't quit. And after a good night's sleep, things really are clearer in the morning.
We have been so lucky in many ways in China. Our rooms have been so clean. Our hostel staff so lovely. Our locations, for the most part, perfect. And so, it's due to planning or luck that these things have happened.
Which is why, I cannot stress more to plan and unplan this type of trip. D and I have had numerous conversations and discussions (the sheer amount leaving me to believe that if given the opportunity, we COULD create world peace with our skills) about what we're going to do next and what to cut out of the original plan.
I can proudly say, thanks to the best CFO on the planet, that we have been good at sticking to our budget. We have given up things but been firm about what we really want, to make sure that this is not simply a quest, but an experience rich with treats and worldly sights combined.
We have rarely scimped on accomodation. And have slept better for skimping on nights on the piss. Because people, unless your on a beach when the next day doesn't matter, you don't want to spend your time recovering from too much sauce.
Most importantly, we have said it numerous times to each other, WE CAN always go home. If both of us, could just simply no longer go on, we would leave.
But even as those words leave your lips, if for one second you hesitate and think about what you're missing, you don't want to go home.
And neither do I. Not yet. I have spent the last 2 days wandering amongst some of the most historic places of recent and past times. I have felt my breath catch, my heart lurch, my eyes glisten (and yes, I CAN hear all your throats retching but believe me, it's NOTHING compared to the horking that goes on here..hello?? pollution?? anyway...)
If I had gone home, I would not have had those moments, however brief and fleeting.
And those are the ones that make it.
On Monday, we head to the Great Wall. THE GREAT WALL. You can see the thing from space, people!
I'm so happy to be excited again.
I'm coming home. Just not yet...
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
The connections here are slow, and I assumed since I could never LOAD my blog, I would never be able to UPDATE my blog.
I suppose even after I post this I will STILL have no idea whether or not I have actually posted, because I won't be able to check.
So I'm literally writing into cyberspace. Weird.
China has been...well...China.
I can say that Korea prepared me for China. There is such a sense of isolation, of being lost amongst the millions, that it can, at times, be quite a lonely place.
It has been filled with happiness and hope, awe and amazement, folly and frustration.
And anger. I have been very angry many times, due to lack of patience, in China. As it was not perhaps Thailand's fault, I don't think it is necessarily China's fault. You need a lot of patience anyway with this place. Four months in, you don't tend to have very much.
But we've turned a corner because we are in Beijing. Even typing that, I am stunned at what to write next. It just feels like this place, this far away massive power that you can never really get to. Only imagine what it must be like.
They will have the Olympics here in less than a year. And I'm here. Right. Now.
And so this feels like yet another milestone, another significant check on our list of to-dos. We have achieved this so far. And that makes it all the more easier to continue.
I feel as though my writing now sounds as if I'm on a trecherous quest. In some ways this is true. This is not the holiday that you may think it is, but that actually makes it all the more rewarding.
I suppose it will be hard to explain to people exactly what this feels like. And even harder to make them believe that I haven't been in Club Med for 5 months.
I suppose it also doesn't really matter what people want to think. It's important they know if they do accept this challenge themselves that it's not about cute pool boys bringing you gin and tonics and administering foot massages.
It's about testing your limits, your mind and more importantly, your stomach, to see just how far they will go.
So far, so good.
Mongolia - bring it on. One week today by train. Wow.
Friday, November 09, 2007
Vietnam has been an experience. I will say there were some downs, ones that we have not actually experienced anywhere else, but we've regrouped in a lovely hotel in Hanoi and are leaving here happy and positive about the country and the people here.
China is our next stop. We fly today as we decided we'd had enough of trains and will be taking many once we get to Russia.
One thing I've heard is that I can't actually access my blogger in China. I haven't really done any investigation so it may be wrong and you may hear from me again soon.
But, if this is the last post before Russia, enjoy the next month and I'll be in touch once we're trekking through Siberia....in December....dear God what have I done?
Family: Facebook and email are all good so you'll still be able to contact me, just not through my blog!
Thursday, November 08, 2007
3 weeks early and ready to take on the world, just like his parents.
My heart is bursting with excitement. I can't wait to talk to my sister, who, according to my mom I just spoke to, is doing well but very tired.
C - well done sister - you are now a mom. Does that mean I get to beg you for things too?
K - excellent job coach! Now the fun begins :)
Little Mr. Marshall - you're gonna be SO SPOILED you have no idea :)
Monday, November 05, 2007
That they were busy with motorbikes, flying and flitting all over the place, swerving and sliding down windy and unkept roads.
I'd prepared myself but fell back on what I continue to fall back on when people tell me about the traffic in South East Asia - have you been to Korea?
I have written before about the traffice in Korea - how all you need to do is simply pretend you are only person on the road. And use your brake excessively.
For years, D has always poked fun at the way I'm terrified to cross the street. In addition to being a mermaid in my past life, I"m certain as well that I must have been hit by a car, perhaps when I was someone's golden retriever.
I was bad enough in Toronto and not much better in Korea.
I began to just get used to the cars come careening towards me. I would curse and srunch my face up, thinking that showing my frustration would somehow will the Koreans to be better drivers. Or at least feel bad that they almost killed me.
So, I was looking forward to Saigon, but I was also NOT looking forward to Saigon.
We had been told that the easiest way to get across the street was walk slowly, or in other words, very carefully. Don't run. Don't stop. Just walk.
The brilliance of it all? The bikes will SWERVE AROUND YOU.
It was time to see just how much my nerves could take.
We had just come from Bangkok, an amazing city that got so much hype for being ridiculously crazy and was just a breath of fresh air. We didn't stay in the covetted backpacker area but had such a SE Asian urban experience anyway, one that was not filled with people hasseling you or trying to rip you off.
I had my city shoes on, but I just wasn't sure if the motorbikes weren't going to beat me in my first Vietnam city.
Leaving the airport, we got a taxi into town.
From the moment he started driving, all you heard was horns, honking more out of a sense of 'i'm coming through' than an angry Chicago or NY type honking.
From the instant I checked to find a seatbelt discovering it was gone, I saw motorbikes.
Motorbikes out the windshield.
Motorbikes out the passenger window.
Motorbikes coming towards us.
Motorbikes coming from behind us.
Motorbikes narrowly missing us.
It was a 30 minute drive and it did....not....stop.
Getting out of the cab, it was time to cross the street.
I panicked and froze and D was suddenly gone, away across the street and into an alley...somewhere.
And there I was, on the other side of the street, near our hotel with no idea as to where I was going.
Then she appeared, out of no where, asking me if I needed help.
She took my elbow, which was strained from the 20K I had on my back, and lead me across the street, just like they said. We did not stop. We did not go quickly. We went slowly.
And we made it.
I was proud of myself then and over the course of the next 2 days when out of necessity, I had to get across the street BY MYSELF.
Can I say I added a new twist?
It's kinda like walking over a bridge. Sometimes it's better not to look down. Cause if you turn to see the sea of motor chaos stampeding towards you, you'll become that deer in headlights and most certainly will meet the fate of Bambi's mother.
So I just focussed on the spot across on the other side of the road, the little oasis that I kept telling the sky that I would never leave again if I could just get back to it safely, and then, it didn't seem all that bad.
That fear conquered, I decided it was time to attempt to decend into the Cu Chi tunnels to abolish my claustrophobia.
Can I just say it didn't go all that well? Next time...
Thursday, November 01, 2007
No, i don't know any of these people but it's all very beachy.
Life just always seems better at sunset.
We are more than halfway finished our trip, over the hump and heading down the other side of the hill.
We have our placed booked for Christmas and most of Russian accomodation is taken care off, thanks to my dreamy D. If it was left in my hands people, we'd be stuck in the middle of Siberia in December.
I'm getting very excited to see China, although like the large countries of australia and canada, we have had to choose carefully because of distance and time constraints. China will be more about the cities, the classic tourist places you associate with China, mostly because it's on the route.
Pricey Hong Kong, colonial shanghai, awestriking Beijing are all part of the plan.
And after four weeks of enjoying what SE Asia has to offer - exoticness, jungles, beaches - I'm looking forward to seeing another side of Asia, one that includes lots of busyness, lots of museums, lots of chinese food and lots of people.
Then, I'll be quite ready to sit in solitude on the train across the largest country in the world, Russia.
It's so close now. We're almost there. And when we step foot in Eastern Europe, I'm not sure myself if I will believe what we did.
Thank God for pictures.