It looks like the ‘slump’ is over!
We all go through the ‘slumps’. That is, the times in our life, and there are many, where things just don’t go your way. Everything seems to go wrong. You feel like curling up in bed, closing the drapes, and slowly drift off to Nevernevernever Land (yes, this is what it was originally called) for as long as possible. The only problem with that, for me, is that after about 8 hours in bed, I get restless and HAVE to get up, so my little trip doesn’t last very long anyway.
The past few weeks haven’t been what I would call, the best. But, after today, it seems like things are starting to look up. My friend Cliff is wanting to come to Canada with me when I go in September. He’s never been, and I think it would be interesting for him for a number of reasons. He’d get to meet my friends and relatives back home. He’d get to see a side of Canadian life that most tourists never get a chance to see. Perhaps after 3 weeks with my family and friends, he’ll forget how to speak Chinese … not likely!
He will get a chance to see how every day life is in Canada. So often, we as human beings, travel to various places around the globe. When we do travel, unless we know people at our destination, we end up seeing the good side of the destination. That is, we don’t get to see the nitty gritty of life. We stay in hotels, eat in restaurants, visit the museums and other tourists traps, sorry, I mean attractions… we don’t get to see how people live.
One of the things that I’ve always enjoyed about traveling, is doing the stuff that is not really considered touristy. I remember my first trip to New York City, which coincidentally, was my first ‘alone’ trip. I knew no one in the city. I had never traveled anywhere by myself up to that point in my life. I traveled by train from London to Toronto, then from Toronto to New York City. I stayed at the YMCA for three nights. After that, I decided to get in touch with a person who I was told lived in New York. A friend of a friend in Canada.
What the hell. I was there for four or five more nights, why not. It was probably one of the best things I remember about that trip. I got to know some REAL New Yorkers. Actual people that really lived in the center of the universe! They lived in an old brown-stone building on New York’s east side. It was about a 10-minute walk to Central Park. Every day I’d venture out on some journey through New York.
One day, I decided to walk around Central Park. Not THROUGH the park, but literally around the park. It took me the better part of perhaps 3 hours, but it was one of the most interesting trips I took on my own. Seeing the affluent upper east side, the slums of the north end, Spanish Harlem, Black Harlem, neighbourhoods that I was told later, I should have never ever EVER been near. But I had the time of my life. Traveling the subway system. Walking into Studio 54.
My fear of traveling or doing what I wanted has never bothered me since. A few little things I try to keep in mind from those friends of years ago in New York. 1) Don’t ever ask for directions. This is a dead give-away that you are a tourist, no matter where you go. 2) Always know exactly where you are going, even if you don’t. 3) Never carry a map. Get used to the area you are in, and plan before you leave.
I imagine for some people, traveling this way is a bit daunting. For me, it’s the only way to truly experience your destination. However, it doesn’t hurt once in a while to be with someone who knows the area. Staying with friends that live in the destination is always a lot more fun. And no matter who you are, when visitors from other places come around, I think we enjoy it almost as much as they do. Sometimes its fun to rediscover your own city or area when you get a chance to show it to someone not from there.
Cliff has been doing a lot of extra work on this holiday adventure. One of the things that I am persistent with, is my wanting to travel business class. The trip from Taipei to Toronto will take several hours – depending on airline and/or connections – is anywhere from 18-24 hours. I’m hoping it will be lesser than more. He has found someone that is willing to sell off a truckload of airmiles at a greatly reduced cost. As long as the miles are transferable to any of my airmile plans, I don’t care. And, as long as they can be used for business class seating, all the better! Then, all he needs to do is get his VISA for Canada, and off we go.
My next concern is, what am I going to do with the cats for 3 weeks?