Today Marks the One Year Anniversary of a New Layday

Actually, that’s a lie; today marks a one year and two day anniversary of a new layday. That’s right, folks: it’s been a whole year since Gonzo returned to the True North from gallivanting in some of the nooks and crannies of SE Asia. Since then, that monumental life experience has constructed the broad that y’all know and love today (yikes, make that a pompous broad).

But in all seriousness, I can genuinely say that the marvels of travelling have forced independence; ignited curiosity; and create some sort of enlightenment and acceptance with who you are and your ‘purpose’ (if that’s the right word). So, at precisely 13:41 on May 10, 2013, sitting in my boudoir, what was the major life-changing ‘lesson’ – if you will – that I got from exploring some corners of the globe?

If we want a particular future,
use your moulding powers to its full advantage.

“What in tarnation do I mean by that, and how in Shiva’s name have I applied that to mi vida within the past year?” you may be asking. I’ll make it short and sweet. What I mean is: don’t be lazy! If you know you have the ability to conquer a goal, do it. I’ve applied this to my life so far through mostly: academics and health (if you want to know the details, leave a comment).

So anyway, there’s my opener, BUT, I also owe you an update on the finale of this year’s adventure abroad. I left off on Day 03 in Ubud, which was written in the afternoon. As fate would have it, the evening unravelled some pretty gonzo-esque events…

UBUD, BALI (CONT’D):
Day 03:

  • So later on that afternoon, after writing the previous post, I walked back to my new homestay at Ubud Sedana, where I got acquainted with my new neighbour: a German lad, who is presently residing in Australia.
  • We were both nearing the ends of our stay in Ubud, so we decided to meet back up later that evening to go to one of the most ‘happening’ pubs in Ubud to finish off our trip with a bang.
  • After three rounds of Extra Joss and vodka, and whiskey and Coke, we found ourselves chillin’ at the pub with good company and shisha. However, after topping off the former drinks with six more shots and a lychee mojito (you can’t get any more multicultural than that), I had to run back to the homestay, only to cleanse my body of the drinks via my esophagus.

Day 04:

  • Bless the souls of the roosters in the courtyard of Ubud Sedana: if it weren’t for them, I probably would have slept in, missing my flight back to Medan.
  • Because the doors can only be locked by a room key from the inside, rather than a standard lock, I woke up in laughter while still in a semi-drunk state, as I had momentarily lost my keys (which were hiding in the in crevasse of my bed), therefore locking myself in my room. Whoops.
  • Again, lucking out in Bali, my former scuba diving instructor that I had last year while living in Makassar (who over the past year has become a bro), was diving in Tulamben. He and his school mate from his studies in Holland – who is actually originally from Spain, but currently living in Koh Tao, Thailand (remember that lychee mojito? I take that back: you can’t get any more multicultural than this) – were heading down to Denpasar the same day I had to catch my flight. Perfect! Killed three birds with one stone: saved 50,000 IDR in transportation costs, travelled with old/new pals, and trekked in the comfort of the private auto mobile (a major bonus considering my nausea).

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Some hungover chick, the scuba diving master, and the Spaniard living in Thailand who studied in Holland (again, multiculturalism at its finest)..

MEDAN, SUMATRA:

  • After a four hour delay in Jakarta, my family back in Medan so graciously picked me up at Polonia International Airport during the wee hours of the morning.
  • The remainder of my stay in Medan essentially consisted of family gatherings, family gatherings and family gatherings. And I can’t complain. It was amusing reminiscing on and fascinating learning about my childhood in Indonesia (apparently I used to be covered in mosquito bites and calamine lotion. Fun fact: I’ve never gotten malaria), and discovering the Batak roots of the Siregar family (e.g.: being raised on Dutch colonial sites; the palm oil plantation bizz; each of the seven sisters’ – including my ma – adventures during their adolescence ).
  • One of the most genuine relations I’ve had with my mom’s side of the family has been with my uncle, Om (uncle) Kiki, who I remember used to carved me and my brother wooden pencil cases and draw us sketches of Earthworm Jim just for fun. When we left Medan, saying goodbye to him (and the rest of the crew, of course) wasn’t the easiest thing to do.
  • Here are some photographs of our last couple days in Medan:

ImageEnjoying ayam pecel with the most comical aunt.

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The legend (Om Kiki) himself.

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Over the short few weeks in Medan, this gazebo became the primo hangout spot.

ImageSome very modest cousins.

LIFE AFTER INDONESIA (BUT STILL IN ASIA):

  • After the expected few hours of sleep that we got during our final night in Medan, mi madre and I hopped on a plane to Singapore, where we spent one night in Little India.
  • Although we were burnt out anyway, we thought we’d exhaust ourselves out even more so we could go to bed early (having to wake up at 2:30 the following day in order to catch an early morning flight to Hong Kong). Activities included being overwhelmed by the craziness of Mustafa Centre, being overwhelmed by the craziness of Orchid Road, and not being overwhelmed by the craziness – but rather at ease with the tranquillity and aroma of shisha – on Arab Street.

ImageLittle India.

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Mayhem on Orchid Road.

ImageMosque on Arab Street.

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Alcohol-free perfume shop.

  • After our short stay in Singapore,we boarded a plane to Hong Kong where we had a short (just kidding) ten-hour layover. So, we did some exploring in the city centre and had dim sum (duh) in Kowloon.

ImageRia getting her bean curd dim sum on.

ImageSleepy time in HK (I am so with you gents).

LIFE AFTER ASIA (IN CANADA):

  • Well, obviously I miss Indonesia like crazy, but we gotta face the reality that all good things come to an end.
  • Exciting things are brewing for Gonzo (work back at the summer camp and transferring universities) in the months to come.
  • However, travelling will ALWAYS be on my agenda. In fact, as soon as landing on home turf and being reunited with family and freinds, discussion of future travels were already being talked about.
  • Picked up the bruv the day after our arrival from his rugby tournament in Japan, and I am genuinely thrilled about the new lad that this opportunity has made out of him.

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Travel sickness will probably take a bigger slap to my face once I get over this jet lag, but in the meantime, let’s leave this post on a optimistic note. Welcome home, Kaleem. Hope your recent travels have brought the same joys that mine did this time last year (plus two days).

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Yes, My Eyebrows Are Real

Salutations from Ubud, where Gonzo is presently mooching off a Mexican restaurant’s wifi (authentic, I know).

Since setting up camp in Lombok, life has been eventful. Let me fill you in in the most organizational manner I can provide for you…

SENGGIGI, LOMBOK:

  • In sum, adventures here consisted of bonding with my most comical aunt, and the mamacita. Also, the original intent of the trip here was to check out my mum’s old stomping grounds when she was the leader of Canada World Youth (an exchange program, AKA the program that hitched my ‘rents… essentially I owe them a big one, or yours truly wouldn’t be alive).
  • Went to the Sade Village. Members of the village still practice their age-old tradition of kidnapping potential wives, all in the name of love.
  • Later, we went to Kuta Beach (which is not be confused with Kuta, Bali), where we spent a mere 10,000 IDR ($1.00 CAD) for a fishing boat to take us out to sea so I could swim in my undies and urinate in Lombok’s beautiful turquoise waters (I’m so sorry).
  • Our driver (but I’d rather call him a homie) Zacky then drove us back to Senggigi, where my mama and auntie bought martabak manis/terang bulan (an extremely rich pancake from originally from the Middle East), while I pulled a classic Mir Mir manoeuvre and got masakan Padang bunkus (to-go).
  • Spontaneously booked plane tickets for the three of us to head to Bali.
  • Met family friends from Medan who run a pediatric centre in Lombok. Extremely friendly, and gave me jell-o. Yum.

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DENPASAR/KUTA, BALI:

  • As luck would have it, the mother was fiercely struck with a stomach illness as soon as we landed in Denpasar (I should throw in that our plane getting there was hella old school – we’re talking propellers so loud I couldn’t even hear the flight attendants on the intercom, and luscious navy blue shagged furnishings – groovy, baby).
  • But, typical Ria (my mum) was such a trooper and recovered the next day after being heavily medicated by prescribed antibiotics by another aunt back in Medan (who actually helped me quickly recover from a stomach flu when I was sick last year in Jakarta).
  • Because of the present situation, we hectically jumped to reserve a hotel right on Kuta’s main strip. Felt like I was in rap video. Yo.
  • In fact, this hotel was located right next to the surf school that me and bruv went to last year when we were in Kuta, and go figure: they remembered us! On a side note, you gotta appreciate how stoned the surfers look because of excessive exposure to salt water (or maybe it’s not the water…).
  • Checked out Pasar Krishna, which is pretty much a crazy Costco/Tesco/whatever y’all have in your country of residence, but solely committed to Balinese souvenirs.
  • Went to a Hard Rock Café for the first time, and surprisingly I thoroughly enjoyed it: the live music was good, excellent stage present, and it was grand just watching my mum and her sister enjoying themselves.
  • Mama and the aunt headed back to Medan after two nights in Kuta, while I stayed on the island, and found myself headed a bit further up north for Ubud.

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UBUD, BALI:
Day 01:

  • Before going to the homestay, the youngster who drove me took Gonzo to a sweet temple after swerving around the afternoon traffic that builds up as flights from everywhere land and provide travelers who crave the zen ambience of Ubud.
  • After arriving at my homestay (Pondok Oka), I went for a long walk about Ubud’s centre with memories of last year’s travels with family and friends (awe).
  • Went to Gianyar’s night market, which is all about the babi guling (suckling pig), which I passed on, but helped myself to some sayur pecel, tempe and papaya. PS: a lady I photographed last year who made me sayur pecel was in the exact same vending spot. Check it out the original photo here.

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Day 02:

  • Kicked off the morning with some pisang goring courtesy of the homestay and a tomato smoothie (so delish), and a morning chat with Agung, one of the gentlemen who runs the homestay.
  • I’ll throw in this: the two guys – Agung and his nephew, Agung (no joke) – who run the homestay, are some of the most accommodating and happy folks I know. Not only did they provide a bike for me to ride free of charge (all about the savings, baby), but seem to take deep interest in the well-being of their guests.
  • Went to Ubud’s art market to get some more souvenirs. But before delving into the art of the market, chilled outside with some new buds: a taxi driver and a parking guide, who initially didn’t believe my eyebrows were real. After gallivanting inside (and getting more remarks about the brows), hung outside again with the new pals, this time minus the parking guide (who was busy making it rain IDR directing motor vehicles), but ft. an toothless older gentleman, dressed in Balinese attire, offering body massages (what?).
  • Found a rice field with a cement path and stairs that allowed me to enjoy leftovers from Gianyar smack-dab in the middle of the greenery. Best lunch I think I’ve ever had.
  • Checked out the Balinese tradition of the Kecak dance (known as the monkey dance), which is followed by a fire dance, where a horse rider who is in a trance runs through hot coals. The horse (made of straw) carried by the rider and gamelan beats puts him in a trance that allows him to run through the coals. The function of this segment of the dance is to protect society from evil forces. Again, Agung’s hospitality was brought to the surface as he accompanied me and gave a lift to and from the performance.
  • Finished off the day with a night bike ride to the most delicious Thai cuisine (and most expensive meal in Indo at a whopping $10.00 CAD) I’ve had: crispy fish and mango salad ft. vegan thom kau soup. One of the owners, Rata, left me with some words of wisdom, and although I can’t quote him word for word, it went a little something like this: “if we are happy today, our future is happy”. In sum, be happy everyday folks, and your future looks bright.

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Day 03:

  • Today, being my last full day in Ubud, I decided to treat myself to a spa day (damn, I feel like a Stepford wife). You know, a sore ass (from biking; get your mind out of the gutter) calls for a good ol’ massage. However, the spa, Bali Hati, makes pampering yourself a good deed for others. Their program functions to empower Balinese men and women through education, employment and health.
  • We’ll see what the remainder of my stay in beautiful Ubud has for me. In the meantime, I leave you with a photo of the gents who have made my stay as excellent as it has been so far:

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As That Canned Heat Tune Once Went

ON THE ROAD AGAIN:
Due to both family matters and travel cravings, Gonzo is back on the road again, exploring without claims of objectivity. It all started in January when the news of engagement of a cousin was announced. The wedding, planned for late April, conveniently (that’s a lie) fit into my final exam schedule. This particular cousin, however, aint just any ol’ cousin. First off, and simply put: she’s the shit; the bee’s knees; the cat’s meow.

Last year, during my adventure abroad, when I was experiencing culture shock or homesickness, just chatting up a storm with this gal would ease the anxiety, and make my realize everything was gonna be A-OK. Further, the fact that she is (a) a brotha from another mutha and (b) a psychologist, she had this super power of being able to ‘read me’ and essentially pull the words out of my mouth when I struggled to express myself (damn, this paragraph is full of clichés, but I want us to all be on the same wavelength).
So, here I am, back in the motherland (Indonesia, by the way), learning more about my roots, with a side of adventure.

I LEAVE YOU WITH:
Some photos of the wedding in Medan, and the update that I’m currently in Senggigi, Lombok, zonked as ever due a 5:45 AM flight from Medan and a potential flu in the making (which makes for eyes as red as Cheech and Chong’s). Until then, zen out to this excerpt from The Art of the Pilgrimage:

“The word sacred comes from sacrifice, to cut up. That means that in order to have a sacred journey, you have to give up something, sacrifice.”

                Haven’t figured out what that sacrifice is yet, but my hopes are that it’ll be apparent during my time in this surfer’s paradise.

IMG_4259IMG_4260IMG_4263Prepping grub for the big day.

IMG_4277Vows.

IMG_4293IMG_4310So, what happens here with the food, is that relatives of the bride and groom individually feed them as a blessing.

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This gentleman explained the significance of each food article (e.g., the fish symbolizes freedom, I’m guessing the eggs have something to do with fertility, etc.)

IMG_4418Not enough food.

Picking Fruits off the Tree of Life

Well it’s that time of the year again: September. A month of jumbled emotions, tasks and above all, minty memories from the summer that by brain is always occupied by.

Now let me set my intentions straight… I don’t want to be a pessimist and make this a post about me bitching about the memories that I’ll probably never relive, but I’d like to relish in those little delights and hopefully by writing a blog post about how amazing those times were, it will help me once again find myself in the utter bliss that I was prancing around in.

It all started when I dropped out of college (just kidding, but now that I ponder more on the idea, the truer it is. (Love ya’, education, but I got some genuine experiences these past months that will effect my life in a way that a textbook can’t). I really shouldn’t say “dropped out of”, because come Tuesday, I’ll be back in the realms of the academics. Anyways, did the homestay, teaching and backpacking solo gig from January to May. It was an incredible experience, and I’ve never craved Asia more since my arrival until tonight while sobbing over a cigarette (I’m not an emotional wreck, I swear. Tears of joy, people, tears of joy).

Fast forward to mid-May and I’m back on home turf. Saddened and confused, yet somewhat enlightened. I look back on the adventures that I had abroad, the unique cuisine, the near-death experiences, the locals, and what fascinated me most: the travelers. I’ll get to that later and how that particular tidbit is making me expand my ideas of what “success” is now.

A couple weeks after landing, some chums and I head south to Quincy, Washington for Sasquatch – essentially a modern day Woodstock. Do I remember most of it? Yeah… no. What do I remember vividly? That I had a wicked time.

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The Gorge Amphitheatre.

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Our home.

ImageCruising around Quincy.

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Reunited.

Okay, where are we now? Late June. I begin round #2 of staff training at a camp just a ferry ride from home, of which most of the staff have been going to as campers, and now, counselors. Essentially, it’s a whole bunch of awkward encounters with everyone: forced socialization, meals where strangers sit with other strangers (and pretty much everyone is playing around with their cutlery or starring at their food, avoiding conversation), doing skits of dos and don’ts at camp, and more. But now that I look back on it, I do miss it. Because in the end, we became one insanely large family (aw, how cute). In all seriousness though, some of the folks that I’ve met here have become life-long friends… the people that your meet in this field of work are like no one else you’ve ever met. Everyone is unique in their own way, and I don’t mean that in a cliché manner. Really. They’re either well-traveled, international workers that have a bazillion stories to tell, or have specific personality traits that you can’t quite put your finger on, but you like it. Not only that, but you have the coolest adventures with them. Whether they may be simple or extreme, they’re just all around good times.

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After the awkward stage/wasn’t really awkward all along. We were just delusional.

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Classic photo depicting an aimless wander around town on days off.

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Another day off tradition: cutting each other’s hair.

Now, here we are. The first of September, and reality has taken the biggest slap to my face. After procrastinating/sweeping the matter under the rug, I’m only enrolled in one course this semester. Coming back from travelling, I thought I had it all put together: went to the college to have a chat with the guidance counselor about career options; did my research into courses; and organized my books from last semester into how they would help me in the semester to come. Nope! I lived in a fairytale this summer, had my head in the clouds thinking that everything would be just peachy, and let life happen while I was chasing it as it sped away. Come late July, and I finally register for courses. My bad. Now I’m kicking myself in the stomach because I was talking the talk, but not walking the walk – one of my biggest pet peeves. All I can look at for this semester is potential to capitalize on other things: working, getting back into guitar (did I mention I played for 8 years and stopped as soon as I started going to school?), and working on an art portfolio. Again, these are just words, but I feel like that by somehow electronically submitting these plans, I’ve made a promise to the world-wide web and myself that this will happen.

Ah, now here’s the perfect opportunity to tell y’all how I found meeting other travelers when I was trekking overseas, one of the most fascinating aspects of my SE Asian experience. What I observed was that everyone was coming from different backgrounds, and as part of those backgrounds, came a different set of ideas of “success”. Just for example, when meeting other explorers, whether it be at the hostel in Laos, a beach in Thailand, or a restaurant in Cambodia, when I gave them the low down on my education background, the responses were “wow”, “cool”, “good on you”, etc., and I loved it! Finally… a world where picking at the fruits of the academic tree and taking a little bite of every one wasn’t shameful or didn’t label you as “undecided” (and even so, “undecided” shouldn’t be a bad thing). I was lucky enough to meet people who were workers at grocery stores back home in Sweden, doctors from Alberta, art history students in Dusseldorf, NGO workers from Australia teaming up with Cambodians, and everything else in between. What I’m trying to say is: who says that the 10 years that you “wasted” of your life on learning more about the world around you, meeting new people, following your passion(s), doing personal research on a global issue you want to change, studying abstract courses as opposed to the classics/traditional, will not benefit you in your life to come? I’ll fill you in on the way I look at it: no one will tell you that if you don’t let it get to you.

My mistake? I do let it get to me, and I’m torn between doing the things I find appealing or the things that society, for the most part, finds appealing.

So… tree of life, let me pick at your fruits. I’m ready to dip my toes in.

Some Call Him a Philosopher – I Call Him My Dad(i)

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Actually, I’m probs just gonna write a brief note here, being as it’s 11:50 PM, and my brain is, as usual, fried — not due to the ingesting of any mind-benders, just…well…that’s the way those neurons are. But then you’d already know that, studying neuro at Harvard ‘n all.
That is so, like, t-o-t-a-l-l-y wild that you’re in Laos. I’m afraid that now you’ve stretched out of my realm of experience, and are creating newly-hallowed grounds for da family. And hence for once, I don’t know how you feel — must be totally awesome (you know, like, t-o-t-a-l-l-y awesome).
I gotta address yr ‘epiphany’ question (if u remember yr postcard wordz) — but honey, you know what I’m gonna say, right?

That you can’t seek said epiphany, just as you can’t seek happiness or love or even a $100 bill lying forgotten on the street. (Well, I guess you CAN seek it, but IMHO — and the opinion of countless others — you’ll be burning up valuable time and emotions instead of living yr life).
(You KNEW I was gonna say that, right?)
For moi, I’ve never had anything remotely close to an epiphany; stuff just comes to you second by second, mo’ by mo’, and it just becomes absorbed into the person that is ‘you,’ and you grow from it, and change ever-so-slightly from whatever it is that happens, be it a Laotian horking on the street, or a heart-warming interaction with the horker or other individual, or causing a dude riding his rickety ol’ bike to swerve to avoid you. And then…there they are, embedded somewhere deep in yr (Harvardian) neuronic web, only to be overlaid with yet other apparently mundane experiences.
You catch my drift?
These build upon each other, not resulting in some blinding light (aka epiphany), but rather in your (and my) evolution as a person. At “best,” I could say that things will start to congeal once you return to the relative mundane-ness of Ocean Park.

i.e., as always, ‘mir…just let it come to you — for sure, put yourself in a position where things will happen, however mundane, and realize that the rest of the world is moving about its business, mostly uncaring of you (and you of them), and you have NO control over what happens after. But things will happen, and it’s up to you to experience them. Without effort.

Realize: you’ll be home in a few short weeks (I’m sad that that is true — you know why, hum?), and… do you REALLY wanna come home and think, ‘Oh, I wish this and wish that.’ What happens happens (he said, Zen-like, absorbed in the flow of the moment, sometimes paying attention to the click-click of keyboard keys, mostly not).
Of course, you will have regrets — but please, dahhhling, don’t let one of them be, ‘Oh, I wish I had been more open, and just lived life moment-by-moment.’
(Even after reading these words, you might feel like rushing out the door — or whatever passes as a barrier between you n the rest of the world in that unknown-to-me turf. Don’t. Just keep living your day, your night, and allow yourself to BE.)

omg…. here I am, that self-professed ‘never give advice’ person, doing precisely the opposite. Well…as always, pick ‘n’ choose from these pearls whatever feels right for you.

And… enjoy. No, that’s not right. I mean, just be present in yourself and flow with the go. Trite, I know — but if there’s a better way, I ain’t not got no idea what it is (or isn’t).

Whew! So much for my “few” words. And to think…I ain’t said nuffin’ new.

I guess: Eat, Pray, Love. Yup, that should do it.

‘Mirdani… I’m incredibly proud of you (if that’s the right word) for your moving through these perilous waters.
I remember (do you?) saying that if things turned out too sketchy in SE Asia, you’d return to Indonesia. I don’t pick up the slightest trace of you feeling that way — you just moving forward, babe.

Be.
Peace.
Chill.
Dude.

Just some words I want to share with the world from my papacito. Helps me get through each day when I’m on the road alone and appreciate the beauties of travelling.

สวัสดี from Thailand!

So after what seems like eons of not writing, I finally find some discipline to update y’all via cyber space.

Last snippets of Indonesia:

  • Went to Yogyakarta to travel the home base for university students studying the arts in Indonesia and to meet up with the guy who took me scuba diving in Makassar. With Yogyakarta as his native city, I feel like I got the perfect dose of tourism, day-to-day life, and just all around good times chilling out.
  • The pinnacle of hilarity in the trip was when we built up drunk courage to go to a club and then bailing out as soon as we saw the array of sexy club-goers compared to our homeless, backpacking attire.
  • Went to Borobudor with Patrick (the Dutch/Indonesian scuba instructor) and his friend Markus from Papua. Simply spectacular.
  • Also attended a political demonstration which was activating against the rise in fuel prices in Indonesia. As with the Occupy movement, there was a fair share of anarchists, rallying against a cause that they just didn’t get the jist of. Oh well.
  • Spent my last few days with mama back in Jakarta before she headed back to good ol’ Vancouver.
  • Chilled with a cousin in Jatinangor at her university for a couple nights before a couple more evenings in Jakarta.
  • As of April 8th, I was Phuket-bound and 1.6 million Rupiahs poorer (don’t over-stay your visa, folks).

Thailand, thus far:

  • Hit up Surin beach with 2 girls I met at the hostel, which was INCREDIBLE. Never seen a beach as pristine as this.
  • Met a fellow British Columbian who is working as a teacher in Cairo, and since we have acquainted, we travelled to Krabi, Rai Leh and Ao Nang.
  • Rode elephants – at an ethical sanctuary! Fear not, people. The master, who I feel was either semi-loco or a tad drunk, Lulu, thought my name was Umbrella.
  • Oh yeah, and ran for our lives up a hill in Rai Leh after everyone was running and hollering, “tsunami, tsunami!”. Freaky at first, but the philosophy of most of the people at the restaurant that we were evacuated to was to drink beer to calm nerves.
  • During the evacuation, Meaghan and I met a Canadian broad and a fella from Goa who both are currently residing in Dubai. Very nice hanging out with them, and I was ultra flattered when they said it was cool that I was travelling solo at such a ripe age (little do you know, I freak out when I’m not keeping myself busy with other activities).
  • Officially became ROCK STARS! That’s right, we went rock climbing, and oh boy, it has been one of the highlights of my trip thus far, despite an aching body the morning after.
  • Celebrated Songkran back in Krabi, which is essentially a huge water fight to ring in the new year. People on the backs of trucks, motorbikes, tuk-tuks, and everything in between, engaged in a water war with pistols and buckets spitting out H2O.
  • Shitty outcome though: after having my fair share in getting soaked, I got into some dry clothes and carried my backpack for my 12 hour bus ride to Bangkok, which, little do people know (I’m talking visitors here, folks), shows no indication for travelling. Got a tub of icy water dumped on me and my luggage. The result? I came down with a 24-hour fever due to A/C and damp hair for a good 12 hours. Just minty.
  • Arrived in Bangkok and what can I say? I wasn’t a fan. Could not wait to peace it and head up to Chiang Mai. I did manage to check out Chatuchak weekend market which was sweaty, huge, overwhelming, and above all: super awesome. Also got to see the massive reclining golden Buddha at Wat Pho. Although this was a hotspot for tourists, it was bucket-list material for myself. So beautiful and in a nutshell, I was speechless.

Well, after my 17-hour train and a night at the Little Bird Guest House, I’m now I’m in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand and I have quite the bit of travelling to do in order to complete this mission I have set for myself: get to Laos by tomorrow evening; find my way to Cambodia (which may call for crossing back into Thailand – apparently the Laos-Cambodia crossing is insane); get to Ko Pha-Ngan, Thailand no later than the 4th in order to attend the Full Moon fiesta (I’m no party animal, but I’m so close that’d it be something that I’d regret more skipping out on than going to).

From a coffee shop in Chiang Mai,
Amira Loosemore est. 1993 – infinity

 Raging nanny – this lady knew what was up.

 Anarchist romance.


Evacuation to higher grounds after tsunami warnings; our new friend from Goa remains calm in the midst of chaos.


Songkran in Krabi.

Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho.