Tag Archives: travel

I almost didn’t survive my first day on my own in a foreign country

16 Apr

I didn’t think I would survive my first day on my own in a foreign country.

I woke up nauseous, dehydrated, and overwhelmed. My first thought was to get water, so I took a cold shower to try to shake my nerves off, and went downstairs to ask where I could buy some. The young girl at the front desk didn’t speak much English and pointed me in the direction I should head. I swallowed hard realizing that this was the first time I was in a country that I didn’t speak the language, and that I was alone. I mentally prepared myself to wander in the quest of water. The sun threatened to reign down past the overcast at any moment so I didn’t have much time. What if I fainted? Would I be robbed? Licked endlessly by the adorable but filthy stray puppies that littered the streets? Is this how people got rabies?

I headed down the unpaved road and found a small shop immediately adjacent to the hotel. I sighed in relief. I wasn’t going to die. Not like this.

The shop owner nodded and greeted me with a “Sawa dee”.

“Water?” I asked, wondering if I should have practised my miming skills.

He reached into a fridge and pulled out a water bottle. I inspected the label and the lid remembering that in Slumdog Millionaire foreigners were scammed by the locals who would refill old water bottles with tap water and reseal the lids. Sure, I found water with ease, but I didn’t want to end up with salmonella or e coli.

The bottle looked legitimate enough.

“How much?” I asked

“5 baht.”

I reached for my wallet, watching everyone from the corner of my eye. Not that I would know what to do if they actually pulled something. But I just wanted them to know I had my eye on them.

“I only have one thousand baht”. I pulled out the note. The storeowner starting laughing and peered into my wallet but all I had in there was American and Canadian currency and a coin from South Korea that I wasn’t sure he would take. He continued to laugh and spoke in Thai which made me uneasy. I wanted to tell him that when I got to the airport the exchange counter was closed and that I had to use an ATM. I didn’t know the machine would spit out a single 1000 baht bill. I didn’t even know those existed. But I didn’t know how to say that or how to mime that so he would understand.

A young boy came to me and took my note and disappeared into the back. I stood, unsure of what would happen next. Is that how easy it is to get robbed here? Someone comes to you, you give them your money, and they walk away with your money? He returned shortly after with change for me. I counted the change but had trouble because the bills were so new to me. I stuffed the foreign bills and coins into my wallet and ran back to my room with my water.


After I was hydrated enough I felt ready to search for food. Food under 995 baht, of course. I was still anxious about being in a new place and I didn’t entirely trust my sense of direction (how do you say “help I’m lost and sweaty and hungry” in Thai?) but I told myself I had to be brave and couldn’t live in the constrains of my room forever.

So I headed towards the main road and wandered yet again. I passed by some non-Thais (i.e. white people) and wanted to jump onto them and beg them to be my friend and save me but I restrained myself. I also stopped myself from running into the first Starbucks I saw and I think I deserve a lot of credit for that. I found a 24 hours café called Tom n Toms and headed inside. (I now realize that this café is the Thai equivalent of Starbucks because it was pretty pricey compared to other places).

I ordered a ham sandwich. I don’t like ham but it was the only thing I recognized on the menu and figured I was falling below my needs for protein after 22 hours of travelling. I took my first bite and wanted to vomit. I was still nauseous and uneasy. Is it too late to get on the next flight back home? I asked myself. I put the sandwich down and took a sip of my overly sweet iced tea which literally shook me.

Tom N Toms

Diabetes iced tea and untampered water

And then something remarkable happened.

Beyoncé’s Single Ladies came on the café radio and I felt a sudden sense of relief and calm. I knew that song! (and most of the dance moves from the music video, shhh) Beyoncé reminded me to be courageous and fierce -just like her alter ego Sasha Fierce– and that the world isn’t that scary of a place. She reminded me why came to Thailand in the first place.

Thank you, Beyoncé, for saving me. Is there anything you can’t do?

beyonce pad thai

Beyonce pad THAI! Get it, get it?!





13 Oct

I went to Paris this summer as part of a trip to France and Spain. This is what I found.

view of tower

The People/L’Amour

There are a lot of Arabs, Sri Lankans, and Chinese in Paris. And it’s super weird to hear them speak French. I know, I’m a racist.

People openly drink in the streets and everyone smokes. Great for my love for wine, terrible for my asthma.


It’s true, the French are very amorous. They are loving people that don’t shy from public displays of affection (and then some). I don’t have pictures of this because it made my non-romantic and North American stay-out-of-my-personal-space self very uncomfortable.

Love locks on a bridge in Pont des Arts, Paris. Lovers leave these behind to symbolism their love, often tossing the key into the Seine River below. But, what happens if they break up? I didn't see anyone with pliers.

Love locks on a bridge in Pont des Arts, Paris. Lovers leave these behind to symbolism their love, often tossing the key into the Seine River below. But, what happens if they break up? I didn’t see anyone with pliers. Love Lock sites can be found around the world.

People have picnics along the Seine River and pack wine bottles and glasses for these picnics.

La Langue 

Parisians are pretty fluent in English and it’s amazing how quickly they can transition between languages. I’ve been studying French since the third grade and have taken adult level classes, and I still don’t feel comfortable speaking to a francophone. Considering French is a national language in Canada, that’s pretty disappointing. We need more exposure.

It’s endearing to hear a familiar Apple ring tone amongst the foreign chatter.

The influence of the English-speaking world is apparent is the anglo-isms

Angloisms in Pariswiz

 Architecture and History

There is so much history in Paris and the buildings are so old. It’s surprising everything wasn’t destroyed in WWII.

Paris has very quaint places, and very grand places. There’s little in-between space.


Tiny hotel room


One-person elevator


Big ass statue

Notre dame

Notre Dame Cathedral

notre dame inside

Inside Notre Dame


The grand Luxembourg Garden, formerly the garden adjoining the Luxembourg Palace. After the French Revolution, the Palace was transformed to the French Senate and today the public can enjoy the beauty of the garden.


    Replica of the Statue of Liberty that was sent to New York as a gift from France. It was designed and built by Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi and Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, the man behind the Eiffel Tower

Replica of the Statue of Liberty that was sent to New York as a gift from France. It was designed and built by Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi and Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, the man behind the Eiffel Tower

towerarchitecture architecture


Napoleon’s tomb at Les Invalides, the military museum of France.

gravetop of invalides


Orsay Museum. Shh, you’re not supposed to take pictures.


Area outside of the Louvre.

street view


gold man


Accordion player performing on the Archbishop’s Bridge crossing the Seine River

Art store

One of many book stores spotted in Paris

One of many book stores spotted in Paris

statue art


Black is the new black in Paris. Colour is less common but not unseen. Accessorize with scarves and hats, and hold your head up high for you are fabulous.

paris fashion

Finding my inner Chanel


Only the French can make a uniformed man sexier. Drool.

my french fashion

I’m like 30% model

fashion vspa

Pop of colour on a vespa.

Food and Wine

I have to admit, I was not a fan of French food, it is far too indulgent for me. There’s only so much foie gras and cheese I can eat. However, what I skipped in solid sustenance, I made up in liquid luxury.

Brunch was my favourite time of the day

Brunch was my favourite time of the day

rich food

wine 2




The Metro


No, I didn’t get robbed on the metro (phew).


Graffiti outside of the subway appears to be universal




Thoughts on a Plane: YYZ to LAX

14 Sep

This past year and a half, I’ve done a lot of travelling. And second only to the toilet, an airplane is a great place to have deep and profound thoughts. Ladies and gentleman, may I present, Thoughts on a Plane


I can’t believe I’m going to a writer’s conference.

Did I pack enough underwear?

I’m about to watch this film about Coco Chanel in French because I’m so pretentious and want to practice French for when I go to Paris in two weeks. Ugh, I’m so refined.

Never mind, they’re totes speaking English. It’s ok still refined.

Ok some is in French. I think. I don’t really understand what they’re saying. Shit, I don’t speak French.

Ooo radio. I’m gonna listen to some classical. Gosh, what’s wrong with me? Why am I being such a hipster?

Ahhh never mind classical makes me feel like I’m in a horror movie!

Okay, bye, taking a nap.