Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How much of the world have you seen?

I thought of this post today when I was walking Jenga in the rain this morning wearing my blue jacket from the time I volunteered during the Winter Olympics.  I was a driver for the Olympic family which included basically anyone who was involved with the next summer and winter Olympics.  It was an incredible experience that allowed me to meet people from all over the world.

I don't care if you were for or against the Games because what I loved most about the experience was that for two weeks, we celebrated more than just talented athletes, we celebrated humanity.  It was emotional for me because it was a break from the everyday.  I had the opportunity to connect with people from a different background, language, culture, history, personality, mentality, yet they were all there for the same reason.

Being a humanitarian at heart, I always feel that if people had the opportunity to connect and understand other people that are so different from themselves, then the world would be a better place.  Why don't people want to experience another culture?  Why do people judge the way someone lives when they were brought up in a completely different society? Why must some people think they are superior to others?

It sounds like it's too simple of a solution to make this world a better place for everyone to live in.  But maybe it really IS that simple.  People often over-complicate things when all they really need to do is take a step back and think.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How do you find peace?

I don't know why but I thought of her today so I am writing about it. I mentioned before that sometimes people enter and leave our lives all too quickly but no matter how long or short that period of time is, there is always some significance.

I also met her in Montreal when I was 22. She from Toronto and me from Vancouver. We had met through a mutual friend in the language program and again, the connection was instant and the friendship didn't take long to develop. At the time, I was in a serious relationship with another significant person who had planned to join me in Montreal at the end of my trip. His itinerary included a stop in Toronto just prior. I was young and in love while my new friend was home sick (yes only a 4hr drive away) despite having moved pretty much her entire bedroom into our tiny dorm rooms. Impulsively we both bought some pricey train tickets and headed to Toronto for a weekend. Her parents picked us up at the station and took me to dinner. Then gave me a place to stay overnight. They treated me like I was a long time friend when actually, I had literally met their daughter maybe two days ago.

To this day, I always think about her generosity, their generosity, and how hard it must be to now live without a daughter who had left too soon. I remember hearing the news like it was yesterday. I found out the night I had returned from a trip to Hong Kong. Now two years later, I still think about her and I cry.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Who wears short shorts?

As I say often, I travel alone quite a bit and I enjoy it.  What I don't enjoy however, is dining alone when I'm traveling.  I was in Barcelona last summer and ended up meeting a lot of wonderful people.  Unfortunately, I also had probably the worst experience meeting someone online.  I was figuring out dinner one night when this British guy messaged and asked to hang out.  So I thought why not since eating alone meant McDonald's while with some company, I could have a proper meal.

He told me he was coming from the beach and I thought that was strange.  At least have the courtesy to go back to your hotel and shower right?  As I waited in front of a Zara, I saw this dude walking towards me in the tiniest swim shorts and I thought please don't let that be him.  Of course this moron looked nothing like his online picture. The online picture of him also didn't have "pompous bitch" written on his forehead.  Don't get me wrong, short swimwear on a guy is pretty sexy...but not if your skin is transparent and you barely tip the scale at 100 lbs.  

Awkwardly we had to go pick a place to eat.  He didn't offer any suggestions but only complained every time I suggested one on Las Ramblas.  I was aware that restaurants in touristy areas were a rip off but I didn't care at this point because I was so hungry.   Throughout dinner, this moron insulted my ethnic background and told me how he disliked Canadians. Then when my bill came, he yelled at me "See I told you not to eat here!" because my glass of coke turned out to be like $8 Cdn or something.  I thought, why the hell do you care, you're not even paying for me.  I have never eaten so fast in my life. As we exited the restaurant, he asked what else we were doing.  I said, "I'm going home, you can do whatever the hell you want."  I literally turned and ran down to the subway.  As I was turning, I could see that he had held his hand out to shake mine. In my mind I thought, shove that bitchy hand back into your booty shorts and go back to London!

the Cranberries - No Need to Argue. Do you have this cd?

Sometimes when you meet someone, the connection is obvious and immediate. Sometimes it takes a little longer to build.  The next thing you know, you become really close friends and people start taking pictures of you two in pirate costumes on the street.  Nothing in life is more wonderful than having someone who makes you laugh anytime and anywhere.

I met her almost five years ago now.  Definitely didn't expect us to become such awesome friends but funny things happen when the stars are aligned.  You know someone is meant to be in your life when you so often unknowingly communicate telepathically with each other.  Have you ever sat down with a friend and then suddenly blurt out a word that happens to be something they are also thinking of right at that very moment?  Have you ever texted a friend a random word related to a funny story and then right at that moment, she happens to be telling that funny story to someone else?

It feels like so much time has gone by because so much has happened in the past five years.  Rough times and good times, we seem to find a way back to each other's lives which is pretty amazing.  The best part is that I can always look back to our favourite memories and remember every detail like it was yesterday.

All the things you said to me today,
Change my perspective in every way.
These things count to mean so much to me,
Into my faith, you and your baby.

It's out there. It's out there.
It's out there. If you want me I'll be here.

I'll be dreaming my dreams with you.
I'll be dreaming my dreams with you.
And there's no other place,
That I'd lay down my face.
I'll be dreaming my dreams with you. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Is that a Vietnamese sub?

I've always enjoyed traveling and exploring on my own.  When I did it in my younger years, it was as if I needed to prove to myself that I was mature enough to be independent.  At 22, after graduating from UBC, I took part in a government-sponsored program where you travel to another part of Canada to learn one of the two official languages.  My journey took me to Montreal where I met one of the most important people to ever enter my life.

I remember carrying my backpack and walking towards the residences at the University of Montreal.  Coming from the opposite direction were two girls and one of them looked at me and said, "Is that a Vietnamese sub?"  I don't actually remember what I was eating but it definitely wasn't a sub because at that point, I've never actually had one.  Ever since then though, upon hearing "Vietnamese sub," I always think about how I met such a beautiful, talented, creative, loving, and kind-hearted soul.

Do you ever think about how you met your friends and why you think they are a part of your life? I never really did until now.  Friendships often fade without reason and it's something I have experienced far too often.  But because I live my life believing that things happen for a reason, I am able to look back and appreciate that contribution and move on from it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What are you wearing?

Sometimes the littlest things make your day, right?  I was at Staples on Sunday buying some supplies and while I was paying, the cashier blurts out, "What are you wearing? You smell so good."

I was wearing Acqua Di Gio which I had bought duty free on the plane on my way back to Vancouver from Hong Kong last week.  I had two $25 gift vouchers and this bottle was the only thing that I could afford.

I like when people brighten my day.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Who is the most ignorant person you've ever met?

I am going to keep this post within Australia.  So it was the end of my school term at Wollongong and I decided to travel around the country before going back to Vancouver.  I was in Cairns where I stayed in a hostel for the first time.  I walked in the room and thought, what the hell, there's like 8 beds in this room.

Anyhow, I went out to dinner with two people I had met at the hostel.  One guy was probably around my age then from Nairobi and the other was a man from England...I'd say late 50s to early 60s.  I was bored out of my mind.  The younger guy didn't speak much while the old man asked me the most ridiculous questions. He even insulted me by saying that I can't be from Canada because I am Chinese. Then no joke, he asked me something that I'd never forget.  We were having a conversation (and I use this word loosely because I did more eye-rolling than talk) comparing Canada and England.  At one point, he looked at me with a straight face and asked, "Are women allowed to drive in Canada?"

I have never felt like punching anyone in the face, let alone an old man.  But at that point, I really could have.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Have you ever traveled almost 24 hrs to get to australia?

I think this post is appropriate since today is September 11's ten year anniversary.  I was 20 years old and on my way to Wollongong, Australia to begin my student exchange program through UBC.  It was 5 months after 9/11. You can imagine what it was like to travel then.

10 years ago, laptops were also incredibly expensive, meaning I couldn't afford one. I kid you not.  My dad packed my desktop tower into my suitcase and sent me off down under.  I know what you're thinking, no there was no monitor. I bought one in Australia.

Did I mention it was Feb 2002? 5 months after 9/11? What do you think happened when they scanned my suitcase at security on my Hawaiian stopover?  Immediately I was pulled aside and searched.  The Hawaiian security officer lady pulls out the tower along with some underwear I'm sure I used to cushion it and asked me what it was. After stupidly explaining to her why I had that, she looked at me with the saddest eyes and said, "It's ok, I understand.  I have four kids. Sometimes, things just get too expensive."

The rest of Australia was a wonderful experience.  Have you ever had an admirer leave a random note on your table while you were lunching alone in the cafeteria? Then this same person leaves you a movie ticket in your mailbox to watch Amelie at the university theatre? Then you go on and have a relationship with this person and have them show you what it feels like to be loved by someone?  I was 20 years old, if only I knew how to appreciate it back then. However, I still remember it at 29,  so I can appreciate it now.

What is this?

My name is Brian and I love people.  I also love traveling...alone...and so this is how I meet the most interesting and memorable people. So one day, my friend Sophia and I were chatting on the beach when the idea for this "blog" came to us.  We thought, why not share our experiences with everyone else?  The reason the word blog is in quotations is because I am getting tired of reading blogs.  I wanted this to be a place where people come to hear stories about the people I meet...just as my friends do with me over a dinner or a coffee or a drink.

When I say "people I meet", it literally means people I meet.   It can be from a vacation, a horrific date, the guy that serves my morning coffee, a neighbour...you get what I'm saying.  Life is designed so that every person you meet serves a purpose...sometimes significant, sometimes it "seems" insignificant.  People enter our lives for a reason, season, or a lifetime.  I read that recently from another special person I met.  We will eventually get to that post.

As this is just the beginning, my posts (for a while anyway) will be many trips down memory lane.  I will write about the people I remember from the past first.  As I get caught up, going forward, I will write about the people I meet in the present.

I will of course keep all posts anonymous.  Even if you recognize yourself in the post, please refrain from revealing your identity.