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  1. Regular life

    Friday, April 18, 2014

    As part of the return to regular life, I am finding it hard to make time to blog; hardly a surprise. I will write a proper blog post one day, trying to wrap up the sabbatical year and say deep, meaningful things about it. Right now I am enjoying the experience of running into friends and co-workers and seeing them be happy that I am back - it really is wonderful to be welcomed home like this.

    Things are slightly different - for example, I just went to an 8:15am yoga class on a weekend day.  That's weird. But I discovered during our sabbatical that there is no amount of sleep I can get that will allow me to easily get out of bed full of energy. I will always have to drag my butt out of bed reluctantly. And if that is the case, I might as well drag myself out of bed early occasionally. And starting the day with yoga is good whenever possible.

    While I was gone I won a few online contests!  3 non-fiction books from Canadian Gift Guide which is a great site because it makes gift reviews that are relevant to Canadians (i.e. you can get the items in Canada easily). A Misfit wearable fitness monitor from Best Buy which I was really excited about until I learned that my old phone and brand new tablet both fail to have the newer operating system required to communicate with it (so it sits on a shelf waiting for Samsung to update my device OS, bummer). A lovely necklace from a jewelry maker in Turkey that I have been wearing a lot lately - understated but fun (won via Thought and Sight blog). And a pair of Dansko walking sneakers from All Things Fadra (blog) and Dansko (I've heard lots about Dansko shoes, am looking forward to trying these out.).  It was really fun to come home to a bag of parcels (the bag of bills and bank statements was less fun)!
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  2. Roger

    Monday, April 14, 2014

    I have a functioning cell phone now, which is very nice. It involved getting a SIM card mailed to me. Which looked like this.  Which is ridiculous, but also funny.

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  3. Normal

    Friday, April 11, 2014

    I remarked on Facebook recently that I had forgotten about the fact that working full time makes it hard to do all the other things. I mean, obviously I knew I would do less - I remembered that, but I had forgotten how sometimes you can't get more than one thing done in a day. I have this mental list of things I want to do that just keeps getting longer because I can't get to any of the items, and for part of the week I was baffled about my inability to do more - I had honestly forgotten what normal was like!

    So that's what my first week back at work has been like. Work itself is great - my co-workers are awesome, the work is interesting... it's just the full-timyness of it that is a challenge! I'm sure I'll get back into the swing of things and will increase productivity in my private time soon. Have to ramp up a bit from sabbatical speed, that's all.

    One of the things I haven't gotten to - editing the 1,000,000 photos I took in Thailand. People, that is an entire month's worth of vacation photos I have to sort through. Hopefully I'll make progress this weekend.

    Peter had the week off work (new job! starts later) and consequently did more stuff than I. He has obtained a new mountain bike and taken it to the mountain twice already (he is very happy). He also got a giant cat tree for the beasts which he purchased from our local pet store and they loaned him a dolly so he could walk it home. Wish I had seen that.  (The cats are awesome, totally their normal selves like there had never been a year of upheaval.)

    Life chugs on. It's good to be home. We are both managing to hold onto some of the zen from our Thailand yoga retreat, but the time in Poland already seems long long ago. Isn't that weird, how quickly you slip back into the familiar and comfortable?

    Bangkok-6
    Bangkok TukTuk ride.
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  4. Ahhh

    Friday, April 04, 2014

    Home is nice.

    Our flight was... not pleasant but it got the job done and I am sitting at my desk with a Kitty asleep on my lap, and life is good.  We arrived in Vancouver in the early evening of April 1, took forever to get our bags and get a customs form we need for something we mailed home. We picked up the keys to our apartment from our friend and then went right to Kitty's foster home in the car full of suitcases. Kitty was pretty wary of us there, but once we let her out in our apartment and she had a look around, she was her old self - she knew she was home and we were suddenly not scary. Peter and I had chips and salsa which we have been fantasizing about for a few months now (Poland does not do salsa - if you ever see anything labeled as 'salsa' in Poland, run away from it). We are simple, easily pleased people.

    We woke up on April 2 and I had my usual breakfast cereal, which I hadn't had for a year, and it was wonderful. Familiar things are so lovely. It's been a year of new things and strange things and man, new and strange kind of wears you down month after month and you find yourself dreaming of strange things like boring breakfast cereals and chewy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.  We went for a walk - it was a perfect sunny Vancouver day. Cherry trees are in blossom and we walked along the seawall with all the joggers - haven't seen so many joggers in a long time - admiring the scenic scenery. We met Peter's dad in a cafe for coffee. Resumed strolling. Unpacked a bit. Cuddled with Kitty.

    It is a really good feeling when you arrive home after traveling a lot and feel, without a doubt, that you've come to a good place. Vancouver is a good fit for us. And I say that even though today was grey and rainy and tomorrow will probably also be grey and rainy (etc. etc.). When you have been away for a while and you step out of the Vancouver airport and take your first breath of that clean cedar-scented air - it really is amazing. We are very lucky to live here - that is one thing all our travels taught us.

    Last night I met up with some of my friends from UBC and it was so wonderful to be with them and hear their stories and discuss the things we like to discuss.... it is so hard to find like-minded people that you connect with, isn't it? I think I took my friends for granted previously, but a year of being unable to have complex conversations due to language barriers and just not finding like-minded people has made me really appreciate the intelligent, wordly, open-minded friends I am so lucky to have here. One of my vague 'things to do differently when I get home' plans is to spend more time with these great friends.

    Monday I am back to work. That will be weird.

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  5. Coming Home

    Monday, March 31, 2014

    Peter and I managed to leave Sanctuary, it was hard, but the pull of home helped. We got ourselves back to Bangkok via overnight train. Did some shopping here (malls here are huge and numerous) and today we fly home!!!!!!!!!!  Our apartment is waiting for us, we have arranged to bring Kitty home tonight and Bernoulli home in a few days, I have a date at a pub with a bunch of my friends in a few days.... I get giddy thinking of it all.

    I realized yesterday this is my first time going back to a place. All my previous moves have been permanent departures (Dartmouth, Ottawa, Wisconsin, etc). This is much better - going to a place I love filled with good people.

    It has been an amazing year, I am sad the adventure is over but I am also a creature of habit and I yearn for familiar, comfortable surroundings, so it is time. Time to go home.

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  6. Extending

    Sunday, March 30, 2014

    I posted this on Facebook a few days ago:

    This island, this place... people come here for weeks, months, years. The number of people we have met here who have extended their stays is nothing I have ever seen before. One of our new friends just decided to stay for 3 more weeks instead of leaving today. It is that kind of place. People are open and friendly and warm. Occassionally throughout the day boats arrive and people come and go (people do, apparently, leave eventually). There is a wonderful tradition, it seems, of people seeing off their friends by standing on the beach waving - full arms over head waving - until the little boat rounds the corner and is out of sight. It is wonderful to watch. This really is a special place.

    Peter and I are now in Bangkok. We extended our week-long stay in Sanctuary to just shy of two weeks, happily giving up the idea of trying to see more of Thailand. We have done enough sightseeing over the past year and Sanctuary offered rest and good company (and Thai boxing and yoga), so we stayed. Yesterday, as we rode out on the back of a 4x4 pick-up over an insane 'road' we were sad to leave, but happy to be heading home. We are ready to be home. Leaving Sanctuary to go anywhere else would be very hard, I think.  Interestingly, the bumpy dirt road with crazy grades eventually connects with a nice concrete road that they are slowly extending. I think it will take a while, but one day there may be an easy way to get to Sanctuary (they are about to open an airport on the small island).... which makes people worry aloud if things will change. Part of the magic of the place is that it is a bit of a pain to get to; if you remove that, more will come, the dynamic will change... who knows if it can survive that and be what it is.

    Peter and I fly out of Bangkok on Tuesday and I am already having dreams about being reunited with my cats. :)  Ironically, we probably won't have internet access right away at home, so it may be a while before I next post here.

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  7. Sanctuary

    Sunday, March 16, 2014

    Peter and I arrived on the small island of Ko Pha Ngan to a place called Sanctuary. Getting here involved a small ferry crossing from the bigger island of Ko Samui and then a small boat going over big waves that landed on the beach. Arriving at this peaceful place after the hectic chaos of every other place along the way is startling. Sanctuary is a collection of bungalows nestled into a hill in the forest with glimpses of the ocean down through the trees. There is yoga and meditation and spa treatments. A restaurant on the small beach. It is all very chill and friendly and artfully blended in with nature. We had dinner at a table by the beach bathed in light from the full moon reflecting off the ocean.  I have been grinning since we arrived. I may have spent a few hours yesterday in the hammock on our balcony, reading. I may do that again today.  We have a week here and it is exactly what we need.

    Thailand has been an interesting trip so far. It has been hot, which makes travel hard, and it has been a challenge for me as I love neat and orderly places and nothing here is neat or orderly! I desperately miss being able to walk down a sidewalk that is free of obstacles and free of the smells of cooking food (and garbage). But it has been good to see something different from what I know, get out of my western box.  Cambodia was hard - the level of poor that exists there is something I've never seen in person. It's complicated traveling there - being faced with how fortunate one is just to have had the luck of being born into good circumstances in Canada. My life has been so easy - it seems unfair, like I should be doing more to balance the world.... but how?

    These thoughts come up in Thailand too - although coming back to Thailand after Cambodia.... Thailand suddenly seems very advanced and organized (even at the border the difference is shocking - the shack you line up in for Cambodia immigration vs the air conditioned building for Thai immigration).  I can only imagine how shiny and clean (and uncrowded) Vancouver will seem when we get back!


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  8. Cambodia

    Wednesday, March 12, 2014

    Peter and I have been in Siem Reap Cambodia to see Angkor Wat and the other ruins here. It is crazy how many huge old temples there are around here.  It is also crazy that we all flock to see them even though it is 36C (and feels like 39C)! I have never seen so many splotchy red, exhaused looking, sweaty white people (myself included). Worth it though to walk though these places.
    We leave tomorrow to head back to Thailand and find ourselves a beach finally.
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  9. Up North

    Friday, March 07, 2014

    In Chiang Mai. Still sick. Eating lots of fresh fruit. Haven't made peter sick so hopefully I am not contagious spreading some international bug all over Thailand. On the up side the night market here is amaaaaaaazing and I am having no shortage of Thai food (like I did in Poland)!  I miss pizza now instead.  ;)

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  10. Bangkok is craaaazy

    Sunday, March 02, 2014

    We showed up at the Wroclaw airport with our enormous suitcases and when we checked in the ticket guy said there were no tickets in our name. Ha ha ha.  Our tickets are complicated and it looks like when we made the last date change it only partially went through. We showed them our online confirmation of our flight and while we were on hold with Aeroplan LOT airline fixed it all for us. Whew.

    So we got to Bangkok as expected after much flying. Bangkok is so hot (33 - 35C). I lose the will do do anything in that kind of heat. And Bangkok is intense - crowded and noisy and cooking smells everywhere. It is a lot for a jet-lagged, sick person (did i mention i got sick? Lost my voice on the flight and have an annoying cough and lack of energy). We did drag ourselves to the Grand Palace which was spectacular, and we have been out wandering.

    Tonight we meet up with a tour group that will take us up to Northern Thailand for 8 days.  I will be honest - I am really looking to the part of the trip where we go to the yoga retreat and stay put for a week or two.  If this year has taught me anything - I am not a hard-core traveler.
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  11. Packing

    Wednesday, February 26, 2014

    We had our last wander around Wroclaw today. Leaving a place sure does create funny feelings. We had our last dinner in Wroclaw (amazing place called Bernard), we have carefully allocated stuff to suitcases up to the weight limits, shipped the rest, frantically given stuff away.... tomorrow we fly to Bangkok and start our 4 week Thailand adventure!

    Possibly I'll have more coherent and meaningful thoughts on our time in Poland and leaving it once I've had time to stop trip-preparations and think properly. :)

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  12. Family Tour Completed

    Tuesday, February 25, 2014

    Peter and I have just returned from a whirlwind tour of all the bits of Poland with family members. It was an intense schedule of visits where I was at least able to console myself with the fact that I could follow the gist of conversations much better than 10 months ago. But it was a lot of hard work for Peter to talk to all his family members and try to translate for me at the same time. On the up side -we took 3 long train rides and they all went without mishaps! Trains were heated and on schedule; hurrah!

    We are now in that painful stage of packing where you have little piles of miscellaneous things all over the place that you aren't sure how to pack. We are shipping a few boxes (by boat) and taking 2 big suitcases with us, plus the small bags we will travel around Thailand with - so packing is a big game of, what bag should this go in?

    Tomorrow is our last full day in Wroclaw - how weird is that?  I am both looking forward to starting the journey home and sad that the year is almost over already. I imagine I'll feel the same when I get home - sad that this particular adventure is done but hugely relieved to be home too. Life is full of contradictions.
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