Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas in Bali

This is my first Christmas away from my family and I have to tell you it's tough! I've never felt more homesick than right now. Christmas in paradise isn't the same. For one thing, the majority of the island is Hindu-based so any signs of Christmas is purely commercial, catering to all the ex-pats. I wish I was home, opening presents with my family and Halo around our beautiful tree but there's no sense in crying over something that can't be changed right?

Anyways, the other day I attended a Christmas pageant at one of the local churches. It was definitely very different but I loved the enthusiasm and Christmas spirit that was present. The night consisted of 2 different Balienese cultural dances (one danced by 3 cute boys), a hip-hop dance, a dance by a bunch of little girls, a couple of choirs and a troupe of men dressed in funny wigs.

Check out a few pictures and short videos below.

Update: So I hope your Christmas was better than mine! I spent the majority of Christmas day curled up in bed with a fever, sweat chills and intense joint pain. I missed Christmas dinner but managed to stumble out of bed late at night to go to an internet cafe to skype my family (they were opening presents). It's now day 3 and I still have intense joint pains, a fever, sweat chills, headaches, nausea, no appetite and earaches. I went to the hospital yesterday to get my blood tested for dengue fever. The test came back inconclusive so I have to go again tomorrow to get it tested again. Sucks to be me right now :(

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Busy lil bee

Wow, I am (surprisingly) finding myself extremely busy at the moment! I'm juggling 2 p/t online based projects plus trying to learn Indonesian plus trying to keep fit by taking 2 different dance classes....

Ok, so I'm not really that busy but I certainly feel like I'm constantly working or running around...

What happened to freedom 24??

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I know it's been a while since my last post but I'm finding it hard to find inspiration to write. It's so different this time around. I'm no longer on vacation but living my life day-to-day... and my life is frankly quite boring! Nothing is new and exciting anymore. I've barely taken any pics - that's how uninspired I am right now.

One new thing that has happened recently is that I've landed a part-time job writing biographies of celebrities for an English school here. The pay is below average in Canadian standards but is on par with some manager positions here in Bali. Take a look at some of the articles I've written: Click here. Super easy ya.

Until next time..

Monday, November 15, 2010

Learn to fly

Today marks 3 weeks that I've been back in Bali and I think I've finally settled into a daily rhythm or routine. It feels good to have a sense of order and structure back in place - loose as it may be. Truth be told, even though having absolutely nothing to do feels great, it only feels great for so long. As such, I've decided to put pen to paper and write down a few priorities that have been floating around my head for the last while. This way, you'll be able to hold me accountable :)
  • Finish my teaching course
  • Spend at least 15 minutes a day learning/reviewing Bahasa
  • Polish resume/CV
  • Work on devising a method of income (e-lance, P/T jobs etc)
  • Drink more water
Out of all these, earning a source of income is definitely the most stress inducing (no surprise there - spending $$ without any coming in isn't very fun). I'm not sure what the best course of action is yet but I'm definitely going to keep my eyes and ears open in case an opportunity arises. Who knows, my dream job may pop out of thin air and give me a job on the spot. All I know is that I have to be ready to dive in, holding nothing back. Sort of like jumping off a cliff without a parachute...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Beautiful Bali

It's funny being back in a place that you thought you knew pretty well only to realize that you either a) forgot everything or b) didn't actually know anything at all! I'm finding myself in that situation a lot lately - especially with regards to streets and getting around town. Things either look completely unfamiliar to me or I have my directions completely backwards! Hopefully a few more days riding the streets (yes, no accidents so far!) will allow me to get my bearings all sorted out.

I love being back in beautiful Bali (30+ temperatures and all) but I already miss a few things back home - like Vancouver water! Also, one thing that I've noticed is how startlingly quiet it is compared to a few months ago - a lot less tourists on the street which isn't a bad thing at all.

I haven't taken out my camera yet so I don't have anything to show for the last couple of days. We're going to check out Sanur this weekend so hopefully I'll be able to share some pics then. Oh, I also have internet set up on my phone so feel free to send me an email - I love receiving them :)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Life Nomadic Pt. 2

I finished Life Nomadic a few days ago and I've got to say, if you're thinking about traveling at all, you must read this! Tynan does a great job at showing a whole other side of traveling, extreme as it may be. While I know I can not be a minimalist in the strictest sense, I'm going to definitely try to keep my packing to a minimal for Bali. I mean if Tynan can fit everything (plus a cot!) into a 28L backpack, I'm sure I can fit what I need into my backpack... which is slightly larger at 90L.

Also, I've recently learned that Tynan has downgraded even further to a 22L backpack!!! Hmmm, maybe I should think about moving to a 75L? Nahh...

Check out a video of him packing his gear in the old 28L backpack:

Monday, October 25, 2010

One week

In less than 7 days, I'll be on a plane back to beautiful Bali for an indeterminate amount of time. Am I excited? Yes. Am I nervous? Yes. Am I happy? Yes. Am I sad to miss Christmas? Hell yes.

I'm not worried though - Bali charmed me the first time around, I have no doubt that I'll fall under its spell again...

Oh, and if you have any suggestions on bringing Christmas cheer to paradise, I'm all ears :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Life Nomadic...

I was glancing through my friend Allen Trottier's site when I came across a blog that he had posted the link to. The description read: Tynan with a meta tag that included phrases like 'ignoring common sense' and 'want more out of your life'. Naturally I clicked and have been intrigued ever since. Tynan, who was once a professional gambler and (interestingly enough) room-mates w/ the writer of The Game, is all about living life outside of the box and encouraging you to do the same. The blog itself is quite interesting but he also offers a few pdfs for download - one of which is entitled Life Nomadic - How to travel the world for less than you pay in rent. You can choose to pay for the pdf or not - it doesn't really matter. His mission is for you to simply read the darn thing.

So I downloaded the 157 page long pdf and started to read. I'm only on page 30 but I've got to say that a lot of what he has said so far resonantes with me. Maybe because I'm also in the midst of packing up my life but I feel a certain kinship to him and even found myself nodding in agreement to some of his points (dorky, I know). He does have a section on being a minimalist and I'm not sure that I have it in me to be one - those closest to me will attest that I'm a hoarder and a pack rat and come from a family of them. I don't think I can physically ever give up all of my possessions - not that I have a lot of valuable items, just that I've placed a lot of sentimental (undue perhaps) feelings on many things. I just don't think I could ever get rid of it all!

Anyways, if you want to read along with me, download Life Nomadic here. I'll let you know what I think when I finish...

你好 - nihao pt. 3

Check out some pics (thank you image uploader for working finally!)

In front of the entrance to the Forbidden City

Playing the 'tourist' in the courtyard of the Temple of the Heavens

Before the great trek at the Great Wall

The Summer Palace

A few of the tasty treats at a food market in Beijing

My cousin and my niece

Of course we had some. In fact, we had some everyday we were in Shanghai - about 5 days worth... yum

The Canada Pavilion @ the Expo. If you show Canadian ID, you get to bypass the crazy lines! Definitely worth it as the line was about 2 hours long.

Similar looking to the rice terraces in Bali... except these are tea trees and we're in a city outside of Shanghai.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

你好 - nihao pt. 2

It was my first trip to China (excluding my foray to HK a few years back) and I must say that it was pretty incredible. My mom and I flew into Beijing and hit the ground running. Over the next 2 weeks we visited: the Forbidden City, Tienanmen Square, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, the Great Wall (Badaling section), Bird's Nest, the Water Cube, Xiemen and Quanzhou (to visit my mom's cousins and aunts), Shanghai, the World Expo, Suzhou, Hanzhou and Wuxi. Phew, it's exhausting to even type that out!

We did the tour thing in Beijing and Shanghai and I'm not quite sure that I would do it again. In theory, it's a pretty good idea. Pay about $200 for a hotel for 3 nights, 3 square meals a day and explore a city and its main attractions. You get to meet a bunch of people (some cool, others not so much) and make quick friendships. However, you're constantly on the move and always on someone else's schedule. I like to take the time to explore a city on my own - do what I want to whenever I want to and that's virtually impossible when you join a tour. Plus anyone who knows me knows that I take my sleep quite seriously... and I wasn't quite happy with the amount that I got during the tours :P

It was also really nice to spend some time with our relatives. It was too bad that they didn't speak English or Cantonese and that I didn't speak Mandarin or any of the other 4 dialects that they all spoke quite fluently... it made for a lot of non-verbal communication - some of which I'm not 100% sure they understood.

Ps: If I had to choose between Beijing or Shanghai, I would definitely choose Shanghai. While Beijing has all of the popular attractions, it was really dirty and old fashioned in its culture (not in a good way). I was expecting a more modern city after the Olympics but that wasn't the case at all. Shanghai, on the other hand, is a very typical Asian metropolitan city. However, it has a certain charm and vibe that I didn't find in Jakarta or HK - closest comparison I think would be Tokyo. Lots of glitz and shiny lights but also a lot of Chinese culture mixed with international flair. It has a really unique vibe and pulse that I quite enjoyed. I guess it also helps that my mom and I had a few days to really explore Shanghai on our terms and on our schedule... that probably had a huge factor in the city charming us both.

Also, I'll upload photos as soon as the image uploader on blogger starts working again..

Monday, October 18, 2010

你好 - nihao

It's official.... I can now cross climbing the Great Wall off of my Bucket List!

A more detailed post to come with pictures...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Alaskan Adventure...

A couple weeks after I got back from Bali, I was fortunate enough to go on a cruise with the fam (cruising as sort of become an annual thing with the Chan clan). Last year we went on an Caribbean cruise to Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. Maarten. This year, we opted for the exact opposite and went to Alaska!

Lemme tell you, Alaska is a beautiful place. The landscape and scenery is out of this world! One morning, we woke up fairly early (and braved the freezing temperatures) to sight-see as we were passing through Tracy's Arm's Fjord. I felt the most amazing sense of serenity here. The water was a rich green/blue color that was highlighted by blue icebergs. The mountaintops were glistening with snow while waterfalls plummeted miles down to the Fjord. Everywhere you looked you could see old growth forest. Every once in a while, you can make out the fin or a tale of a humpback whale. And despite being on a 2000+ passenger cruise ship, you couldn't hear anything. It was like the whole world stopped on its axis for a few minutes. I know I sound like a sappy Hallmark card but I can't help it - it was absolutely wonderful! Actually, the best word to describe it was majestic. Alaska is absolutely majestic!

Btw: even though Alaska is a beautiful place, I would never go there again on a cruise. We were bombarded with the exact same shady jewlery salesmen, shops selling junk and tourist traps in all 3 ports (Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway)! Thanks but no thanks.

Freezing our butts off

The next few photos are all ones that I snapped as we were going through Tracy Arm's Fjord

in Ketchikan

Holding 6week old Huskies

What did I tell you, isn't Alaska majestic?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

New chapter

It's crazy to think how different my life is now compared to 6 months ago. If you had asked me a year ago whether or not I could imagine myself where I am now, the answer would have been a very loud NO. It's a little disconcerting because my entire life plan has been derailed... which isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's simply the end of a chapter in my life... the end of a relationship, the end of a job, the end of security..

However, with every end comes a new beginning (deep I know). This new chapter includes getting my motorcycle license (!!!!), experiencing unemployment for the first time in 2+ years (a good thing), visiting China for the 1st time, renewing some relationships that have fallen by the way side and even starting new ones. In short, almost everything that once was is no more - or at least a little different.

2010 has been such a crazy and amazing year so far. I gotta admit - I'm pretty excited (and slightly nervous) to see how it will end!

And I know I took a break from blogging but I'll try to start it up again.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Home Sweet (?) Home

After almost 3 months of continuous traveling (Ottawa, Cuba, Montreal and Bali) I've finally made my way home. It's definitely a bittersweet experience. I'm very happy to be home and sleep in my own bed, and see family/friends again but sad at the same time to leave Bali. I had such an amazing experience there that it's almost feels like a let-down to be back in Vancouver. I know I'm probably suffering from post-vacation syndrome so the plan is to let things settle down...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Jakarta adventure...

On Wednesday, we left beautiful Bali and headed to Jakarta for a few days. Ever since I started planning my Bali adventure, I've wanted to go to Jakarta to explore the city so I was pretty excited to be able to fit in a trip before I went home. My thoughts? Read on..

We landed Wednesday night and met up with Rollan's dad for Kwetiaw Sapi - a beef noodle dish that is covered in a glue-like gravy. It tasted alright but all I could think of was that I was eating something that's similar to the goo that covers an alien as it bursts out of a human stomach. Ugh.

I quickly learned that Jakarta is quite known for a handful of things - malls and traffic jams being a couple of them. There are approximately 100+ malls in Jkt - everything from your super high-end shopping cities (literally) to your rinky-dinky Chinatown building. On our first day (Thurs), we hit up 2 of the larger malls - Grand Indonesia and Plaza Indonesia. Geeeze, the level of luxury in these places is ridiculous - more suited to a high end hotel than a shopping center! Over the remainder of the trip, we probably visited another 4 malls? Sigh - no more malls! And, no more traffic! I thought traffic in Bali was bad - boy was I wrong. One day, we sat in traffic for more than 4 hours!!! And that's normal! Yikes, thanks but no thanks.

@ GI

3 lane bumper to bumper traffic. Nbd

One of the more popular food dishes in Jkt is bakmi - a thick, ropey like noodle that is tossed in a secret (delicious) oil sauce and served with a side of clear broth. It was very good but we pretty much ate only that our entire trip - it's good, but not that good. And it wasn't just one place that we kept coming back to either. We ate it in a variety of places - from your chain restaurant, to a stall on the side of a street next to a sewage ditch to a tiny warung with cockroaches running around on the tables. I think I'm noodled out.

Rol, his dad and I headed out to Taman Mini one day. Taman Mini is basically an amusement park of sorts that features the architecture and culture of all the different provinces in Indonesia. And it wasn't just each province that had it's own little plot of land - the different regions within the provinces were able to showcase their culture as well. I'm glad I was able to experience a tiny snapshot of all the different place Indonesia has to offer - must come back and explore some of these cultures more fully!

@ West Sumatra (Sumatera)

Cool ladder @ East Kalimantan

Most of the buildings are built on stilts so the tigers couldn't eat the people (or so I was told)

@ South Sulawesi

@ Yogyakarta

One day Rol and I ventured out on our own. Our mission? Ride the public buses to Glodok (basically Chinatown of Jkt) and back. While we didn't ride the super sketchy metro-minis (broken down mini-vans), we did ride the main bus (that had AC thankfully). It cost 3500rp for a one way trip. All in all, the bus ride wasn't that bad. I had heard bad things about pickpockets and such but I'm happy to report that all our belongings remained intact. It's kinda cool but the main buses have a dedicated bus lane in the majority of streets - really increases the attractiveness of taking public transport as it's reliable and quick - no sitting in traffic for these buses! My only real complaint was that a lot of people on the bus decided that wearing deodorant was faux pas. Ugh, it was super smelly in there. Natural BO plus the humidity of Jkt equals a really pungent ride!

@ the bus station

Packed like sardines - smelled like sardines too

Sketchy metro-mini

One of the queues to get on the bus

Exploring a mall @ Glodok - very similar to HK

@ Cafe Batavia in Fatahillah Square - very cool decor. 17 500rp for an ice-tea though!

Checking out the wildlife @ Fatahillah Square

Another thing that Jkt is known for is its party scene. Lots of clubs, bars, and karoke lounges to satisfy any appetite (and if you're looking for a more seedy scene, lots of brothels too!). On Friday night, we met up with Rol's 2 friends Art and his cousin Kama and his gf Rica. I actually met Art back during the Olympics so it was nice to see a familiar face. We headed to Blowfish where a friend of Kama's was celebrating her birthday. Oh yeah, this friend? Her family owns Ayana Resort (where Rock Bar is). Freaking redic. All in all, I had an amazing time at Blowfish - it was so much fun!! The music was the best I've heard in a very long time. Mostly hip-hop with a little old-school and top 40 thrown in. I felt like I was in one of my favorite dance movies. Although the crowd was a little wack (very cliquey and snobby) I did manage to meet a UBC student who was trying to get into commerce - random! On Saturday night, we went to Alexis (jealous Ros?) with Art and Kama. The scene is very different from anything I've ever partied in. The music wasn't that great and the crowd was uh, interesting but I still had fun. And I'm glad I finally got to experience the 'wonders' of Alexis - although I'm pretty sure I'm of the wrong gender to fully enjoy them. From Alexis, Rol and I headed to Millennium - a pitch black, seedy club that was blaring tribal music. Needless to say, we headed home pretty quickly after that!

One of the bars @ Blowfish

A bottle of JW and a few drinks later... Rol, Art and I

Getting ready for a night of shenanigans

Outside Alexis

Rol's dad dropped us off at the airport Sunday night (after a day of hanging out with him in malls - what else?). Our flight was scheduled to leave at 7:20pm but we were still sitting at the gate by 9pm. We finally boarded and everything was pretty smooth until we tried to land in Bali. We were going in for the landing when we hit the ground hard(!) and suddenly started ascending again. The weather conditions (lighting and thunderstorm) were making it unsafe for us to land! Despite that, our captain tried to land again. This time, we didn't even make it to the ground before we pulled back up. All the ups and downs were reeking havoc on my poor stomach - glad I didn't chunder all over Rol! We finally headed to Surabaya - a city in Java about a 30min flight from Bali to wait out the storm. Hours later, we all filed back in the plane and this time landed successfully in Bali - at 4am. Our original arrival time? 10:02pm. The price you pay to be back in paradise...

The ill-fated flight

While I'm glad that I got to have a Jkt adventure, I'm ecstatic to be back in Bali. It just felt like home coming back here. This place has a very special place in my heart!

Hangin 10

I've finally gone surfing. Rol and I met up with his friend Allen at Kuta Beach. Allen has surfed for almost 50 years and offered to take us out and give us a few pointers. We met him at post 2 where we met one of his closest friends (and possibly one of Kuta's more famous personalities) Marcello (who was featured in an episode of Bondi Rescue - a popular Australian TV show). We took his longboard and Allen's shortboard and headed out to the white water. Although I haven't been surfing in ages, I managed to get up a few times. For whatever reason, I find surfing way easier than snowboarding - less painful too :) Glad I'm finally able to cross this off my list of things to do!

Marcello on the right

A few pictures...

@ The Cave - a lil empty

Sexy he/she @ Facebar

Busting out to Simply the best

View from our hotel restaurant in Munduk

Breakfast - sticky black rice pudding with palm syrup and coconut

Rain, rain go away... it looked like this the majority of our stay

When the sun comes out.. scenery on our way home