Check Point: Almost a Year and a Half on the Road

These days, I’m in Taipei, Taiwan. I’m studying Chinese (or as I tell everyone around here, wo xue zhongwen) and I enjoy it (wo xihuan xue zhongwen).

I would have loved to be a travel blogger, but given that I can only find the motivation to update once every 6 (8?) months, it seems I’m not destined for such a career path. I always have lots to say and I tell it to myself as I’m lying in bed at night trying to asleep, but forging the link between my mind and the keyboard is, well, a lot of work. Also, while I wasn’t blogging, WordPress went and made their interface super ugly and unpractical so now I waste a lot of time cursing at my screen.

The last time I logged into the blog, we’d just crossed the border into Laos after 3 months in Thailand. Since then, we’ve…

…spent a month in Laos

Morning on the Mekong

Morning on the Mekong

…spent a month in Taiwan

Taipei on a smoggy fall afternoon.

Taipei on a smoggy fall afternoon.

…spent a month in the Philippines and visited a child that I sponsor

The gorgeous village of Batad in Luzon. (Not the town of my sponsored child - confidentiality prevents me from posting photos of the visit.)

The gorgeous village of Batad in Luzon. (Not the town of my sponsored child – confidentiality prevents me from posting photos of the visit.)

…spent 2 months going between Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei

Kampong Ayer, the water village in Brunei that we had the privilege of staying in.

Kampong Ayer, the water village in Brunei that we had the privilege of staying in.

…went to the Rainforest Music Festival in Sarawak, Malaysia

One of my favorite performers of the festival, Sona Jobarteh.

One of my favorite performers of the festival, Sona Jobarteh.

…went back to Taiwan to study Chinese for a few months

Also casually picked up rock climbing.

Also casually picked up rock climbing.

…took a weekend trip to Kyoto, Japan which really wasn’t long enough

Loved our Kyoto neighbourhood.

Loved our Kyoto neighbourhood.

…thought that Chinese wasn’t using enough of my learning power, so started taking an online TESOL (course on how to teach English) for my own personal interest

Sorry no pictures of that!

The Present

When I piled the last of my belongings into my car and drove away, I was exhausted. 3 years at a stressful (but rewarding! I do miss parts of it) job had gotten me to the point that I flew into a rage whenever I heard a phone ring. Walking into a pharmacy had me fighting the urge to turn around and storm out, and I had no patience whatsoever for people.

Since then, I’ve driven across North America, most of it by myself. I’ve chased cows and rode horses in Australia. I provided some entertainment (and hopefully some enrichment!) for autistic children in Thailand. I learned about elephants. I did a lot of hiking in rain forests. I met all kinds of people, laughed at all matters of jokes and said “thank you” in at least 5 languages.

It was around our first stay in Taiwan that I started to not hate the idea of slowing down. So at about 10 months in. By the one year point, so sometime in Malaysia, I realized I was getting tired of travelling. Which is good, really, since my savings won’t last forever.

In case anyone was wondering, there was never a big revelation moment where all the secrets of life become clear. Then again, I didn’t expect there to be. But I was hoping I’d figure out my priorities so I could decide what to come home to and I think I’ve accomplished that.

Ed and I survived spending almost every moment of every day together without either of us storming off. I won’t lie, the nights were, and still are, rough – I’m an ultra light sleeper with pretty severe insomnia and he’s a snorer who can sleep 12 hours a day…it’s like the worst sleep combination ever – but otherwise it wasn’t a big deal. I’ve come to understand what people mean by “when you travel together, you notice your differences more”, but it’s all just a question of realizing that you can either let your differences come between you, or you can just accept that you’re not and will never be the same person. Sometimes it was frustrating to not be able to move at my natural pace of ALL GO GO GO ALL THE TIME and do all the things I’d be able to do if I were by myself. But then I’d be reminded of all the things I could now do as part of a team that I couldn’t have done (or wouldn’t have enjoyed doing) on my own.

The last miles

I haven’t quite decided yet when I’m coming home. My “Epic Journey” account is running low but I can easily support us for a few more months without having to touch the “Back in Canada” account, so there’s no rush. We are thinking of spending Christmas in Taiwan, or rather I am and Ed doesn’t care. I still have a couple (3 I think) weeks of Chinese class and I might tack on a couple more if the school lets me. I don’t want to be on a deadline to return home, so I might as well spend Christmas here in Taiwan, where we’re comfortably settled in a decent apartment with Ed’s older brother.

After that, maybe we’ll go home, maybe we’ll make another stop or two.

I still have a lot of malaria pills left and it would absolutely break my heart to waste them (we ended up visiting way less countries than expected), so maybe we’ll make a stop in Cambodia. Myanmar, remote Indonesia and maybe India are options too but out of all them, Cambodia intrigues me the most. (They’re all excellent destinations, but I kind of feel like India’s too far out of the way while Myanmar and remote Indonesia are quite similar to places we’ve already been.)

Then, our taste of Japan was so short and so sweet that we can’t help but ponder the possibility of going back. It would be annoying in the winter since we’d have to stock up on jackets, but I do think Japan’s comfort, modernity and temperate climate would be a nice way to end this crazy adventure.

I love the possibilities.

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7 Responses to Check Point: Almost a Year and a Half on the Road

  1. grimmtooth says:

    I’m glad to see you’re doing well! It’s interesting how changing one’s perspective can change one’s priorities like that. I know people that would absolutely burst into flame if they didn’t blog about something at LEAST every day. But being out there in the world does change what’s important. Maybe even those compulsive bloggers I know of would learn to slow down and take it easy. Hm, I’m starting to sound like a Pandaren!

    It’s funny, I’m following the twitter account of a musician named MC Frontalot, who is taking a couple of weeks to just bum around southeast Asia, and it looks like he’s hanging out in Taiwan right now, as well. (If you know where the Pentatonic Rock Bar is, he stopped there for drinks recently).

    Small world, but I wouldn’t want to paint it.

    Pleasant and safe journey to the both of you!

    • Ophelie says:

      I wish I was one of those people who felt the need to blog every day! Reliable travel bloggers get tons of free stuff XD It’s just that after a day of exploring or a day of sitting on a bus chewing on my thoughts, I’m so tired. Even getting my Facebook pictures uploaded for my family became a heavy chore (which definitely wasn’t helped by the crappy internet in many countries). There’s is something to say about just enjoying the moment though. I only ran into a handful of bloggers, but I did meet a lot of eager photographers who were so stressed about capturing every second that they’d forget to just experience the now.

      I looked up MC Frontalot and the Pentatonic Rock Bar! Looks like they’re actually in Thailand. It’s funny because the two countries get confused all the time. I did go to Chiang Mai where the bar is, but didn’t spend that much time there. It’s a nice city. While Bangkok is the NYC of Thailand, Chiang Mai is the San Francisco (the 70’s San Francisco, not the current tech Bay Area)

      • grimmtooth says:

        Oh! My mistake – I thought Front had moved on from Thailand to Taiwan. Well, either way, I thought of your travels whenever he posted a tweet or an image from his travel – “I wonder of Ophelie crossed the same path”, I would muse.

        I wonder if your end of the day state has a lesson for us, something like “you can live life, or blog about it.” All in all, I think you probably chose wisely 🙂

  2. Brad Stover says:

    I’m glad to hear that you’re having a great time, still. Everyone here is looking forward to seeing you again when you get back. Twiggy misses her Auntie Jen.

    • Ophelie says:

      Aww I miss everyone too! Ed and I were was just telling someone yesterday about the time I introduced Ed to you and Jen (it was that Burns nights where Ed discovered he didn’t know how to drink, haha).

      I bet Teagan and Clark have gotten so big! I hope you’re all doing well!

  3. Skip Cocoa says:

    These updates never cease to make my jaw drop. In case all those months abroad are starting to feel a little mundane, know that through my eyes, you’re off in some exotic unimaginable fantasy land seen only on TV through the cameras of crazy adventurers. You could post that you were visiting Mars and I would likely nod with the same dumbfounded look of amazement and wonder.

    But do come back safe. You have a lot of bragging to look forward to now.

    • Ophelie says:

      !!!! You live!!!! Where are you at these days? It’s been too long!

      While the act of travelling (or more accurately, carrying all my belongings on a bus for a day, then going to the museum, then going to the park, then packing up to get back on the bus) did get repetitive and draining, the idea of it still gives me a lot of amusement. Or rather, it goes like this: I say something along the lines of “I really liked Taiwan and I’d love to study Chinese. I’ll go sign up for Chinese lessons in Taipei.” Then it dawns on me that I just trivialized something that I wouldn’t have even dreamed of a few years ago. Then I have some kind of reflection on the awesomeness of nomadic life. Though perhaps it is less these far out places that impress me now (after awhile, they all look the same) but how natural and easy it is to flow to the one that fits my fancy.

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