Mighty are the fallen

This was taken on one of my photo exploration walks around my street and complexes.

I have felt myself drawing away from my blog lately and find myself drawn more to flickr and photography. I’m really into this 365 day challenge now. I love taking photos and then coming home to look at them and edit them and post them on flickr. It’s a great community of inspiring and supportive and creative people. So if you dont hear from me much just head over there and say hi.

Oh and I watched ‘into the wild’ for the first time last night and it hit home a lot of things for me.

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the curse of the blogger

I need to stop looking at my blog views and reader country list and wondering why so many people just read and dont comment and remember why I started this blog in the first place. Yes, it was in part to meet new people and show my friends/family what I’m doing whilst away but a big part of it was for myself. I didnt go into it thinking that if I dont get people commenting it’d be a big deal, but somehow it has turned into one.

I think that the thing for me is that when I know people from back home are reading and keeping up to date I am happy, but I dont know who exactly is reading and what is happening in their lives. They walk away feeling in contact with me and all filled in on my life but I never know. I dont even know that they’ve checked in on me unless they comment. Or send me a private email! Either way, I want to know what is happening in your lives too!! This was never supposed to be a selfish one way communication. It was about sharing – and that goes both ways!!

The thing I miss the most about home (apart from the weather) is my family and friends. In all of my life I can honestly say that I havent had a better bunch of friends than I do now. Every one of my friends has been hand picked, tested, challenged and appreciated. And my family? Well they know how strange I can be and they love me for it.

((some family shots not uploaded due to request -but imagine Mum, my bro and sis in law also here))

They are a big chunk of the heart and soul of my life in Australia. I feel like I am being a bad friend as I am not in as much contact as I’d like to be, but each time I write a blog I feel like I send them an email with my news. I kinda feel like in a way I have to pause my life back in Australia and hope when I get home and press play they will all still be there. I have this fear now and then that they’ll all find better friends and forget about me. I know it’s silly, but thats me sometimes. I know that friendship isnt about comments, or emails – its about the truth. It’s about the actions and not the words.

Anyway, I have realised that even though everything you see can be totally different in a new country the people and underlying issues remain the same. Friendship is so important, never forget to take the time to tell someone how much you care!

I have been lucky enough to make a few new friends whilst being in Canada too, and I cherish them equally. Sometimes I stand there, in my silent world, and I think “gee I am boring. I cant even think of anything interesting to say. How can anyone want to spend time with me?” But they do. They keep inviting me out, and I am so grateful for that. My social skills leave a lot to be desired. Sometimes I ramble on and sometimes I just sit there blankly. I dont have all the answers, and thats not always a bad thing.



So on a news front I’ll be going to Vancouver Island for the Victoria Day long weekend (which I just found out is to honour Queen Victoria’s birthday) so I am excited about that – adventure and new discoveries await. I have booked a whale watching trip, so fingers crossed I get to see some Orcas and cross that off the list too! Not sure if I’ll be blogging from there or not, will see how I go. Might take a break, but then again…

Take care and happy adventuring!!

far from perfect

Society has this deep desire for perfection. Or maybe it’s even becoming a requirement. It’s a sickness because no-one can live up to that. It’s such a shame that injecting poison into your face to deaden it and remove wrinkles is socially acceptable – and even encouraged. I could never do that to myself. I would never want anyone I know to do it to themselves. Nothing in life is perfect in every single way – but perfection to me comes with flaws. I think that ‘flaws’ are perfection, they are what makes us unique and interesting. I was taught that I am beautiful, I was brought up reading inspirational books of quotes and watching nature documentaries. I remember being in awe of my pop, he would take me and my brother down to the beach for a swim in summer and he was so at home in the water that I thought he was a dolphin. After the swim we would go back to grandmas house and meet mum with fish n chips for dinner. Those friday nights were the sweetest, and they will always remain close to my heart.

I have never been a follower. I wasnt popular at school, I was overweight and I got teased. I had no father at home to talk to, but my mother and grandparents were more than enough. I have always known how important they are in my life. When the other teenagers started smoking and drinking I resisted. I really had no desire to go there. I tried alcohol, I didnt like the taste. I didnt like the effect it had on people. My uncle was an alcoholic and so I saw how this drug can take a hold of your life. I didnt feel the need to do something I didnt want to just to fit in. And that has remained the same ever since. I have never been drunk and when I go out I avoid alcohol. I dont think it’s such a big deal. If my friends want to drink then I am ok with that, just as they should be ok with me not drinking. If they’re not then they arent really my friends. You should never feel pressured into doing anything you dont want to – by anyone!

We live in a world where the most important professions – such as teachers and nurses are some of the lowest paid and yet hockey stars and actors get paid far too much. It doesnt make much sense to me. Pay packets should relate to the jobs we do and how important they are in society. Surely teachers who are shaping our future generations of children and nurses who look after the sick should be up the top?!!

I have this innate need inside to change the world, it’s been hovering around there for a long time now. I dont know how I am going to do it – what form it will take or when it will happen – but it must. In some way, when the time is right, we must all do what we can to change the world for the better. We must eliminate greed, hatred, ignorance and injustice -education seems to be the answer. How does someone know what they are doing is wrong and how to change? Only by education. I was talking about this the other day with Ed about the drug addicts situation. Sure, we can make them sober and take the drugs away but unless they want to change and are educated about everything then it wont make a difference when they return to their normal lives. If the temptation is there then that’s often too much.

If you could see me now and read the words I’m writing I would want you to know that I am happy. I am happy because I have given myself permission to be happy. I am flawed, I am far from perfect but I like who I am. I’ve gone through a lot, I have changed a lot. But I can honestly say that I love myself and I am not ashamed to be alone. I am surrounding myself with people who I look up to, who encourage and motivate me. I no longer find myself drawn to negative people. I am learning.

What do you think? What are you learning?

5 weeks, 35 days or lots of hours.

I figure that it’s about time for a recap post! It’s important to stop and look at all you have achieved and reassess your goals and to do list now and then!

When you put it all down together I cant believe how much has happened! I dont mean to blow my own trumpet but I am really proud of myself! Hehe. So on the 2nd of April I stood at Melbourne airport and took the first official step of this journey, saying goodbye to my town, my country, my family and friends.

I boarded a plane to Brisbane, and a connecting flight to Tokyo.

I explored the city streets and found beautiful blossoms.

I caught the train to Kyoto and explored a whole lot more!

I found the Nanzenji Temple and the Philosophers Walk and I watched the people go about their daily lives. I soaked it all up. I was a foreigner in a foreign country and I didnt really speak the language. That’s kinda thrilling.

Then I headed to Vancouver, Canada – a city and a country that I had been dreaming about visiting since I was 18. Nine years later and I finally got here – at precisely the right time. It’s funny how things work out like that, but I truly believe that to undertake such a big adventure I wouldnt have been in the right frame of mind to do until now.

And so I made it to Stanley Park – I even walked all the way around it. I saw squirrels and a raccoon and a hummingbird and canadian geese and deer and robins. I ate a nanaimo bar, a cinnamon bun, a beaver tail, a reese bar, a jolly rancher, a key lime pie and more! I went to the hockey, gastown, granville island, kitsilano, lynn valley suspension bridge, lonsdale quay, metrotown, park royal mall, commercial drive, main street, downtown, MOA, the Aquarium, capilano suspension bridge, pemberton, van art gallery, deep cove, chinatown, chinese gardens. I made new friends and listened to tips about where to go and what to do. I crossed a lot off my to do list!! And you know what? I still have a lot to do!

A customer at work enquired about my accent today and asked whether I was from Australia or New Zealand. I realised that she is the first stranger I have spoken to who has guessed it correctly. She was so lovely and told me her son had visited Australia. I asked if he had been to Melbourne and she said no. I told her that he missed out! She laughed. See, I know my accent stands out and to locals I say things strangely, but hardly anyone has actually said anything to me about that. Isnt that a little strange itself?
There are people over here that are so lovely and welcoming and friendly but there is also a part of the population that seem to be quite unfriendly and.. well.. basically cold. It’s hard to break through the surface with them.

The main thing that has struck me is that everything is so different over here. And yes, I mean everything. The only thing that remains the same is the human relationships and psyche. As we are all humans on this earth the issues dont really change with the location.

It has been an incredible, interesting, fun, inspiring trip so far. 35 days of adventure down- and counting!! Here’s hoping that there are many, many more to come. And I hope that your adventures inspire you to try for more too.

Someone said to me that I am brave doing all of these things by myself. Many people have said that they couldnt have done what I am doing. I dont think it’s about being brave. I spent a few years of my life waiting. I was waiting for friends. Waiting for them to come along so I could have someone to go to a concert with. Or go on a roadtrip with. Or go overseas with. Years I waited and friends came and went. And as their promises faded to dust I realised something. If I sit and wait for someone to come before I do what I want to do then I will be waiting for years and lets face it – I might never get there! So you know what I did? I started doing things by myself. I like my own company – I know I am reliable, fun and I listen to my gut. I got to go to concerts and line up early and go front row and meet my fave musicians. I got to travel and explore and I found out that being alone isnt as scary as being with someone you dont want to be with.

So thats how I came to take this trip by myself, and I say to all those who dont think they could do it – you can. You should! Dont put something you want to do on the backburner for someone else. Go do what you want to do – go explore the world. It’ll be the best decision you ever made for yourself.

happy travels!!

Let the photos speak for themselves

Ok, after several posts about fashion which included several shots of me I can imagine my brother grimacing. Or he would grimace if he actually read my blog – which he wont because “I dont want to read your artsy fashion stuff and see 100 photos of you.” Hehehe. As far as I can tell his lovely new wife reads the blog and just passes on any interesting information. Dont worry, these are no photos of me in this post! Haha.

Anyway, my point was to clarify that I by no means regard myself as a model or a professional camera(wo)man. I love fashion – and art and I like finding ways of combining the two. I have a unique style and if that means people call me weird then I can deal with that. I dont dress the way I dress to get attention, infact if you get to know me you’ll find that in many ways I do as much as I can to avoid attention. There’s nothing wrong with being an individual. I was just brought up to believe that I am unique and worthy and that I should follow my own path in life. My mother is an incredible woman.

The reason that I started this blog (and continue to write in it) was to share my adventures with my friends (new and old) and family. It is my way of debriefing on what has been happening, and I imagine it’ll give me happy memories when the only travelling I’m doing is through these pages. It made me feel like you were all a part of this journey, and it helped to make me feel less alone. It still does!! I love the connections this blog has helped me make, and the inspiration I get from it. When you have a camera in your hand you tend to notice the way the light hits a tree and makes the colors blend, or how the grey sky reflects perfectly with the grey water. You open yourself up to a creative spark and if you’re lucky you can capture life’s wonderful moments.

We all come in different shapes and sizes, in different colors and with different hopes and dreams but we each have something special to give. We could learn a lot from each other!! I have noticed that recently there is a real lack of respect not only for our elders, but also for ourselves. It’s too early to tell if this is true in Canada too (or even worldwide) or if it’s just an Australian thing. I was taught manners, and I was raised with morals. I believe these two things are the cornerstones of respect. When I walk past people on the street I try to think of their stories, the places they have been and the people they have helped. Everyone has a story and everyone deserves to have their story heard. So when you’re outside try to smile at someone you dont know, give a little bit extra when you tip or just make sure to say thankyou to someone who helped you. Little acts of kindness are easy to do, but their ripples can be felt across the whole world. You never know when you can change someones life for the better.

Anyway, this post has gotten way longer than intended! haha. I was planning on just saying a sentence about my brother and then posting some photos without words. I guess that didnt happen. Here are some photos from the last few days (north van, van city and chinatown/gardens).


More on my flickr!

I checked out the Van Art Gallery – Leonardo Da Vinci ‘mechanics of man’ exhibition, which was incredible. Can you believe that 500 years after they were drawn no-one has been able to make a more detailed and correct sketch of the intricate workings of the muscles, tendons and bones. Incredible! The man was a genius.

Dont worry about me, I’m in a new part of town

Alrighty!! I am all moved in and unpacked, and to look at my wardrobe I really dont know where it all went! I’m glad I packed two big knit cardigans though (probably explains some of the space) as I can wear them now! It’s amazing when you think of your life in a suitcase (or two) – and you unpack and think about everything you have brought along and whether you made the right decision or not. I think I did- overall. I’m just going to have to do more washing than I’m used to – but I can work with that.

My homestay family are really nice! I’ll admit that I was a little worried (as per normal I suppose) but they have been lovely and welcoming. Georgia introduced me to the food cupboards and living with a chef has its benefits I must say!!!!!!! You dont have to worry mum, I’ll be eating very well. Snacks included!! They have a little dog who is a bit hyper – but I’m ignoring her in the hopes that she will calm down soon. She hasnt bothered me in my room so thats half the battle!

Speaking of my room – wanna see some photos? Yeah I know you do.

Decorated already? Me? Yeah you can count on it!

Apparently that is satelite tv, but I need to ask how to use it as I cant seem to figure it out.

The taps are weird over here, and the toilet bowls seem to be a LOT bigger. Wider but shorter. They seem to hold a lot of water and then they flush weirdly too. All the water completely goes and then it fills back up again.

I’m not going to show you a photo of the toilet!

This is my soaker tub and shower

After I’d got settled I went out the back of my place and down the green belt.
I saw my first squirrel!!! He was too quick for me to get a photo.


North Vancouver is a beautiful place, and it’s a lot closer to the city than I thought. I dont know how I’m going to go in winter here though, I’ll be honest. Even though the sun was out today and it wasnt windy there is this cold in the air that almost takes your breath away. It’s a little bitter. Maybe I’ll grow into it!

I went down to the local superstore supermarket thingy. It’s like a combination of big w and the old bilo supermarkets. You should see the size of the small toothpaste – its like family size! They certainly do things a lot bigger in North America!!



I still havent seen the two aisles of chocolate bars though – maybe thats just in America. Probably a good thing, dont need to be tempted! Hehe. I’m still finding it a little strange being in another country. It’s been a week since I’ve been home now and you’d think I’d be used to it. I find myself walking along and I’ll see a big yellow school bus and I’ll do a double take. It’s like I have to open my eyes again as things start to blend in. I can see someone walking along and then when they speak in a Canadian accent I have to do another double take. It’s like I have to keep telling myself ‘hang on, you’re not at home here. You’re in Canada! Things are different.’ Its unusual I know, but maybe it’ll be different in time. Then again I AM unusual so maybe it’s just right hehehe.

A bit later the babysitter came around (not for me, for their 4 y.o son) and we got to chatting over dinner. She was so lovely and even though she is only 14 I think I made a friend. One down, several more to go!
Lovely!

To do list

The clock is ticking down and my adventure is fast approaching! Mum told me that I have been talking about it for so long she just wants it to happen already! I said, “thanks mum – if I was more sensitive I’d think you werent going to miss me.” She said.. well you get the idea anyway. This trip has been in the works in its rawest form since August and since then has just been building and growing and forming.
In 10 days I will say goodbye to the life and people I know and fly off by myself to Tokyo. I’ll stay there for the night and then get the train down to Kyoto for 2 nights. After that I will get the train back to Tokyo and then fly onto Vancouver -where my new life begins! I have a working holiday visa and I have no idea what I’ll end up doing – but isnt it exciting?!!
I have so many things that I want to do, so what better way to remember that than making a to do list for my trip! Any other suggestions about what I should add would be appreciated.

    AL’S TRAVEL TO DO LIST

– see a geisha in Japan
– do karaoke in Kyoto
– see a monk in a temple in Kyoto
– walk through the cherry blossoms in Kyoto
– try real sushi in Japan
– walk through the traffic in Tokyo
– watch the tokyo lights from the rooftop of roppongi hills.
– see all the sights in Vancouver
– try some real maple syrup
– go for a hike in the forest
– go thrifting for vintage with Maya
– try the blueberry bread on Granville island that Sabine mentioned
– visit some traditional first nations sites
– learn to snowboard or ski
– see some local wildlife -bears, wolves, orca, moose, deer, raccoons, squirrels etc!!
– go on a roadtrip to banff
– do the traditional halloween and thanksgiving and a white christmas!
– see a hockey match with the canucks
– take a train journey to U.S.A
– make a visit to montreal!
– go to a real diner and try some sweet pies – key lime, pecan, pumpkin hehehe.
– eat some real macaroons
– meet a real mountie

That’ll do for now! haha. You may notice that many of those feature food – I’m a sucker for sweets!! I think I’ll pin this onto one of my pages so you can see as I tick off the things I have done!

This isnt going to be easy – I dont doubt that! But I do know that it will be an amazing adventure and I will meet some incredible people. I will learn and grow and see so much!! That will make it all worth it. I’m doing something that many people dont give themselves a chance to do – but I dont want to look back in regret. I have to do this for myself because you know what? I deserve it. And so do you!

What is on your to do list?

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