Return to Canada
Trip Start May 13, 2010
38Trip End Aug 02, 2010
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8.5 hrs – it is not even that long, perhaps three times what it takes for me to go one way to Vancouver each weekend (if you exclude check in time and waiting at the airport). And I typically make a return trip to Vancouver at least twice a month! Perhaps if it wasn't for the time change and the cost I would make trip more often. Perhaps I should regardless of these hindrances.
Air Canada offered another "stellar" trip and, fortunately, I was able to sleep off and on throughout (AC has nothing on either Cathay – thanks KW! -- or Singapore Airlines). At one point, I was asked (more like told) to turn off my overhead light as it was 'sleep time’ for everyone – so much for reading or writing further notes
Arrival at the airport was smooth – immigration checked passports immediately at the boarding gate and the wait through clearance was ok. I had actually forgotten to write down that I was bringing in 750ml of alcohol (Duty-free Sake from Narita) but I was never checked so was lucky. Quite lucky actually as the wait for my bags was so long – one of the customs officers was wandering around talking with people (and me), looked at my form, and wrote something on it which I assumed meant that my bags would be inspected. RL was waiting for me for sometime already so I had a bit of a worry re: time. Again, lucky…it meant nothing and I went through with no issue.
It is weird to see people old friends back in Canada again, and feel the crispness and smell the sea in the air. It is something to miss for sure, but there is also much to miss where I came from as well
RL drove me to a dim sum place where we met up with nine others for lunch. So much food, but, unlike last year when I could barely get down two bites without feeling full, my stomach was able to accommodate . Apparently a month in Korea and ten days in Japan is different than that same time in Vietnam! One thing that is different is that usually over the last couple of months when there was that much food on the table (and people surrounding it), there were also several bottles of beer or alcohol present. Not this time. Just tea. I am back in my usual environs and my liver can again rest peacefully. I will return to Nanaimo for a couple of days tomorrow.
The last three months have been an exciting and interesting adventure. I have added three more countries to my list of places travelled. I have met new friends and contacts, and have renewed ties with old ones. I have learned about new cultures and experienced several new cities. And I have travelled – seven countries (including Hong Kong) over just under three months – starting from rural Vietnam (and a city of less than 100 000) and ending in Tokyo (a metropolis that by some definitions contains between 35 and 39 million souls and is the largest in the world, although Tokyo itself ‘only’ has 13 million inhabitants)
I find it so odd to hear perspectives from some at home regarding traveling to foreign countries. The world often berates the USA as culturally insular, but I have heard more than my share of 'why should I travel anywhere else when it is so beautiful etc... in Canada?'. Canada is beautiful, of course (especially my home province) -- but the world has so much to offer in terms of different cultures, perspectives, and scenery. I have made friends in numerous countries, and there are few places in Asia, Europe or North America where I likely could not find a place to stay or people to visit. People around the world are so much alike but, critically, in some ways they can be so very different. It is those differences (and the blank spaces in my travel map) that feed my wanderlust. Travel for me is never a relaxing experience as I am constantly challenged to be understood (or to understand), figure out a new metro or transport system, order food, and, of course, try and prevent any cultural foopaahs in the country I am visiting. But travelling is an important experience to have. I leave footprints in those places I visited and hopefully some memories in those people who I have met but I suspect that they, their country and their culture has had much bigger impact on me, than I on them.