Category Archives: Travel

Plans, and an absence of.

I was standing in the warm garage, talking to the mechanic.

“We know where to find you,” she said, smiling. I can’t remember what we’d said before that, but I know that I replied, “Always in the same place.”

I’d meant the mountain, but it occurred to me how odd it was for that to be true.

Five-year plans. I’ve never, in my life, had a five-year plan. Even when I was a junior in high school, when everyone who wants to go to college has a five-year plan, I didn’t. For me, it was more like, I’m going to design school. Maybe. Or maybe I’ll become a doctor. Eh. We’ll see…

Do people actually make those things—five-year plans? I suppose they do. I went to J-School with a really ambitious guy who wasn’t content with a five-year plan. He had a “15-year plan.” It may or may not be worth noting that it began to disintegrate even before we’d graduated. I can say that without feeling bad because he’s doing really well now.

But yeah, I thought he was mad, and for exactly that reason: Plans are arbitrary. I believe that there are reasons why things happen, but I do not believe that the plans we lay, should we choose to do so, have much, if anything, to do with it. “The best-laid plans…”

I prefer a vague plan full of qualifications and the freedom of ambiguity:

  • I’d like to do that. Some time.
  • I’ll probably be [insert whatever here] six months from now/two weeks from now/Saturday…

Flight map.A year ago, I was heartbroken, not by a person, but by a country. I was about to leave a place that I loved. Love. Will always love. People who I love. My “plan,” if you will, included two months of intense, intercontinental travel, a couple of surf comps, and many, many youth hostels. And then, big, glaring—if kind of glamorous—blank space.

What would I do between France in October and Sydney in December? Well, I’d figure it out, I reasoned. But last July, it was a mystery, and one that became less and less sexy with time.

A few weeks in Bali put me off living there for any real length of time. Vietnam was still a quasi option. I girl who I met in Malaysia invited me to Nepal. I could do Nepal. This is how these things happen, you know. You meet a girl in Malaysia who invites you to Nepal. But I couldn’t afford the flight. Full disclosure: I couldn’t afford anything. Change of plans.

I returned to the States disheartened, with designs of getting my proverbial shit together. (I’m still working on it.)

I only intended to stay here through a single ski season, but I sensed pretty quickly that Maine numbed my nomad tendencies. Eight months in, I’m surprised to find myself calling this place home. More than that, I’m surprised that it feels like home. I am surprised every day when I don’t want to leave. Then again, I’m astonished every day by the beauty of this place. And that of its people. I feel the occasional searing pang for the inconstant, but it only takes a minute of clarity to see that it’s everywhere, regardless of venue.

So, I think I’ll use that airline credit for an actual vacation—or two—instead of a one-way ticket. And then come home.

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The year is new.

Oh, so it is. I’m usually much more on top of my New Year’s posts, but 2013 was one heck of a year and I wasn’t really sure where to start. Then I thought, I’ll just begin with what’s always closest to my heart: the food. (And drink.) And I’m gonna preemptively put a few dollars in the proverbial jar, because I’m about to sound like a… well, maybe just don’t read this if you’re prone to fits of jealous rage. Right, the food…  Continue reading

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Rickety Rollercoasters.

Bali Cont’d. (Finally.)

I was relocated to a private room (complete with sheer, bamboo “walls,” immediately on the other sides of which my neighbours slept). The ocean was rowdy and the people who lurked near it were always trying to sell me silver jewelry, so I became part of the poolside décor and watched time (and yoga teachers-in-training) pass by in bulk. I eventually spoke to one of them. The yoga teachers. Her name was Steph and she was from South Australia. She invited me to join her for lunch and soon, I had 30 new friends. They told me where I could find good cafes and ATMs. The combination of good company and the (thankfully) shattered illusion of confinement made Villa Serenity infinitely more enjoyable.

One day, we went to lunch and afterward, we stopped at an ATM. This particular machine didn’t accept my bank card, so my new friend Laura told me how to find another one:

“Walk down the beach until you see a big, white building,” she said. “Turn left and keep asking the security guards until you get there. It should only take about 35 minutes.”  Continue reading

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I take back everything I just said.

Protective netting.

Bali is a torrid, lethargic isle rife with mosquitoes, mad drivers, and doublespeak. (I may feel differently tomorrow, when I am no longer staying in a room so ill-equipped for paying patrons that it’s actually FREE.)

Silver linings:

1. I am watching a gecko-cockroach showdown from the confines of my mossy net.

2. I always wanted to sleep in a bed with a canopy.

3. Previously mentioned free accommodation. (If only for one night.)

3.a. It’s only for one night.

Oh, also, I did have a really good dinner for $3. Even if it was cut short by vicious insects gnawing on every inch of me. Now, I just hope none of my possessions go missing in the night. And please, please get me to the beach tomorrow.

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“Yoga shmoga.”

Go with the flow.

The thing with tequila is, deciding that it’s the proper course of action is always preceded by consuming copious amounts of other, less rambunctious spirits. And the other thing with tequila is, it’s never, actually, the proper course of action. But leave it to 18-year-old guys from California to convince you otherwise.

Thus, I find myself at Anomali with the biggest and most delicious iced coffee that they’ve probably ever served, feeling like a criminal in a town full of temple bodies. And actual temples.

This story really begins with clean eating. And “detoxifying.” A loosely laid plan that was swiftly abandoned at the utterance of “balcony with pillows.” Or maybe it was “wine.” It was Sunday, after all. And I reasoned that the most enlightened humans in history surely reached that state under the watch of some Bacchus variant. No?  Continue reading

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KL in 46 Words:

Shopping malls. Food stalls. Chillies. Teh tarik. Tech. Dual happy hours. Expensive booze. Afternoon deluges. Thunder. Markets. Postcards. Paper lanterns. Crowds. Mass transit. Motor vehicles. Massages. Fish spas. Towers. Temples. Contrived [Batu] Caves. Monkeys. Malay. Statues. Street art. Architecture. History. Accessible. Incredibly eclectic. Colourful. Beautiful. Alive.

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Gus’s #Singapore.

Friday, 30 August

4:37 p.m.

Marmalade Toast. Orchard Road. Singapore.

I went to PS. Cafe for the coffee. Well, I went once this morning in Ann Siang Hill. For the coffee. But they weren’t open yet. So I called it a miss. Later, I decided to stop off in Orchard Road between the S.E.A. Aquarium S.E.A. Aquarium(evidently, the world’s largest) and the National Orchid Garden, and I vaguely recalled that PS. had another location in the area. An area that, for the record, has been torture in my hangry, broke-ass state. Every store you could possibly wish to visit is probably here, including Christian Louboutin. And I’m painfully aware that having the desire to buy things in a store does not equate to having the means, which is one thing about Orchard Road that’s frustrating: The tease. 

Another thing is that there’s very little life on the actual road, as most of the boutiques, restaurants, etc. are housed in massive, immensely disorienting shopping malls with powerful-sounding names. Like Paragon. Which is where I found PS. number two.  Continue reading

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Cough Tea and Electric Toast and GOWs

Yesterday, I ducked into Eu Yan Sang, a historic medicine house in Chinatown, and grabbed a bottle of tea for my cough. Yes, that is correct: Cough tea. The woman who sold it to me said, “Drink once.” And then added, “Your cough. Do not take chicken or egg.” Not that I eat chicken, but this was news to me. I nodded soberly.

Cough Tea

So, for the record, the sugary brew did actually seem to help.

I spent most of the day working on a story before heading off to legendary Little India. To be frank, I don’t see what all of the fuss is about. I mean, there is some quaint, colourful architecture and, yes, an abundance of Indian food. But mostly, there are a lot of dudes walking around in the street and a lot of stores peddling technology on the cheap. Perhaps I missed something. It’s worth seeing, anyway.

From there, I went full-on tourist and took a train to the Singapore Flyer. I reckon if I keep thrusting (went there) myself into situations where I am precariously suspended at great heights, eventually, that tension in my delts will vanish. It hasn’t happened yet. I always pay the $30 excitedly, meander through the pre-ferris wheel display of facts and figures, then look around anxiously at my fellow patrons, hoping for for priests and infants. Or, at the very least, handsome fellas onto whom I can clutch.

This particular giant observation wheel, or “GOW,” happens to be the tallest in the world at 165 metres. It’s a full 30 metres higher than the London Eye, but by my watch, it moves a little slower and feels sturdier. Once I was at the top, I was loving the glorious sight that is Singapore from the sky. So worth the dollars. And they take cards! Post-“flight,” I walked across the DNA (Helix) Bridge to Marina Bay. If you happen to be in the market for some Gucci or some overpriced frozen coffee (which I was, for the latter), go to Marina Bay. Also, if you are hopped up on said coffee, you can seemingly linger here into the late evening hours. The place was bumping well past 9 p.m..

In other news, this morning, I thought a fellow Pillows and Toast Heritage guest was going to electrocute herself while retrieving her toast. With metal tongs. While the toaster was plugged in. I nearly swatted them out of her hand, but she made it out unscathed.

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#LivingTheDream / “Risky Biscuits” . #Singapore .

Singapore.

Tuesday, 27 August. 9:09 p.m..

Dinner time. Again.

I’ve been in Singapore for 3.5 hours and it would be incredibly easy, if not for the fact that everything seems to require cash. money. dolla’ dolla’ bills, yo.

As a freelance journalist and gypsy, I probably rely [a little too heavily] upon worldwide acceptance of Visa cards in moments when bills that need to be paid eclipse invoices that have been paid. This is one of those moments.

Upon disembarking after my 11-hour flight from Auckland, I sent an email to the madre that stated, “I’m here! Got a new stamp in the ol’ passport, just waiting for my bag then heading to the city. Love you!” I collected said bag and discovered that I needed cash to buy a ride on the city shuttle. I needed SGD $9. With fear in my heart, I headed to the nearest ATM and my fears were realised when I saw that TD Bank had withdrawn its malevolent maintenance fee with laughably poor timing. Also, I hadn’t been paid in the previous 11 hours. In short, I was penniless. Literally. And I was stuck in the airport.

I happened to have some random international currency in my wallet and I pathetically exchanged five Aussie dollars and five U.S. dollars for a little more than 11 Singaporean bucks and slunk onto the shuttle. When I arrived at Pillows & Toast Heritage, I was reminded that I’d only booked the room with a deposit and–guess what! This hostel only accepts cash payments. Feck.

I was reduced to asking for a mini loan from my mum, which, I can tell you, does not feel good.

On the bright side, I can eat with chopsticks…

Someone recently told me that living this way is “risky biscuits.” I was like, “Yeah, heh.” And I merely thought, I’m gonna steal that turn of phrase. Today, as I contemplated purchasing strangers’ overpriced Frappuccinos in exchange for cold, hard cash, in order to escape the aeropuerto, I saw cookies in an utterly unappetising light. For the first time in the history of me.

Come on, lifestyle sponsor, where are you?

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