Meditation

Yesterday morning I got to try something new. I was skeptical, to say the least. While I fully understand the importance, and the benefits of meditation, I had never been able to successfully calm my mind myself, and for a long time, simply chalked it up to not being able to… Almost along the same lines of hypnosis.

Megan came over the night before, and watched the gang play dodgeball. We drove home, and hour later than expected, and got ready for our 3:45 wake up call. Due to the fact that most activities offered by the 21DED crew are in Vancouver, and I being in Langley, we needed to get up a little earlier, to ensure we made it to Gastown in time. Our alarms went off, and we slowly, and groggily made it of the couch and bed, questioning the point of doing this. It was such a nice drive in, even though we were both clearly not stoked about the fact that not even 4 days prior we were just getting to sleep at this time. I had to laugh, as we stopped at the Tim Hortons for a quick coffee on the way. I HATE Tim Hortons, but it’s the only stop on the way to town. Megan got a bagel that looked like they stomped it on the ground. Knowing my position on Them, I couldn’t help but laugh and say, “SEE?!”

With the traffic count essentially at zero, we made great time getting in to Vancouver. We pulled up to Moment Meditation and said good morning to the other couple of people already waiting. Within 10 minutes there was a group of 20, chipper, but clearly tired, early risers. It was nice seeing who else was running this challenge with you. People all with a very common goal, but from many walks of life.

As we made our way up to the space, I couldn’t help but appreciate the architecture of a building that I have walked by hundreds of times. While the layout on the inside was clearly inefficient, it was beautiful and timeless. We all quietly took our shoes off and gathered in a large, white, open room, filled with comfortable chairs, pillows, and blankets (thank god, the single paned windows made it incredibly cold). Our instructor went over a few ground rules, and explained how things would work, and we dove right in. It took a while for me to focus, but a few minutes in, I was able to slow down, control my breathing, and all of a sudden, boom. I felt my mind just… let go. And time flew. I was bathed in this calm, relaxing state. I listened to her voice, and embraced the music that was softly playing, and it was amazing. What felt like five minutes turned in to 45 in a blink of an eye.

The class ended, and we mingled in the front room, drinking tea and talking about our experiences. It was interesting to see the different levels, and different views, and how meditation, and mindfullness helped peoples day-to-day. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to trying this again at home, or maybe even taking a class or two.

After a quick stop over for breakfast, I dropped Meg at work, and I hustled to my office to start the day, feeling energetic and revived. I mostly blame the early wake up time, but I like to think that slowing my brain down and relaxin also led to my body telling me that I needed to seriously chill out at night and go to bed. I drove home, ate dinner and got ready for an early night. I was in bed for the first time before 10:00 PM, and now here I am, Wide awake and ready for the day! Late night tonight, as I’m going to a movie premier, but hey… Can’t wait!

 

-m

 

Advertisements

Time Flies

Oh man. You take one weekend off, and all of a sudden you haven’t updated in a week. Rough. As soon as I left work I wanted nothing to do with a computer. I went home Friday night and had a super chill night alone. No one was home so it was nice to just relax and not have to worry about anything.  Julian posted a great article about how not skipping days would be better than forgoing and having a rough start on Monday. I had every intention to do so, but the week caught up to me and I ended up sleeping for a solid 10 hours. Saturday was a whirlwind start to the day: I planned on going for a walk or a hike with Jessica, and Josh as well. We met up in Fort Langley, and made it for maybe five minutes before deciding that the Houston Trail was simply too icy and unsafe. We settled on option two: Beer. Langley finally got its fir craft brewery and they’ve been making some excellent beers. After a couple, we decided on hosting a games night ay my place. I put the call out, and got Alex and Darby in as well, on the condition that I pick Darby up on the way home. No problem: It gave me an excuse to swing by New West and grab another beer at S&O, who so conveniently was pouring Josh’s and I’s favourite four winds brew on their guest tap!

Games night was a success. Good laughs, Chinese food, delicious drinks and great friends. It ended rather early, as again, I had committed to be up extra early for a little fun. Rising at 4:30 (again, ugh) I made my way through Langley and headed up to Seymour mountain with Andy to meet up with a group of other DED’ers to hike dog mountain to watch the sunrise. About 50 of us total made it the trek and it was great to meet other folks doing the same thing that I was. We ended the trek with a stop over at Craft for coffee and brunch. Megan met up with me there, getting to meet the crew. She was a late entry in to the group but I really love how much she’s contributing and getting to know an amazing community.

With my belly full and my legs still burning, I headed home to get ready to go on my next adventure: Island Time. Kris had messaged me saying he really missed hanging out and if I had Monday off to come over. I agreed on the condition that we spend time with Jessica, and that we wake up at 4:30. One of those things happened. I didn’t wake up at 4:30. We hardly even got home then. But that’s ok. It was well needed and we all had an amazing night, drinking, laughing, poorly dancing, and drunkenly eating chicken nuggets.

 

Needless to say, the ferry home was rough the next morning. Not good, as I had Dodgeball that evening. Luckily it was an easy going night. I am volunteering with the league to help organize nights, and it went off without a hitch. A lot of new players got to experience the league and Josh and Sarine who’re new to my team this year got to experience the game, and loved it! After the whirlwind weekend, I took Tuesday off to recover. I’m now sitting her typing, feeling great and looking forward to getting off work, so I can finally get to bed early and get back in to my routine!

 

A Look Back at the First Week

Whoooooo… .made it. Barely! What a way to end a week of insanity. While I’m loving the early mornings, today really took a tole on me physically and mentally. If you’re coinciding blog posts, to calendar dates: The lower mainland has experienced the most snow they’ve ever received in 8 years. The amount of snow is negligible, but it’s still causing issues everywhere as when it fell over the weekend, it was extremely wet and it turned to compacted ice within hours. While main arterial roads and priority routes were maintained, most residential streets where not, which is the case with any major snow fall. I guess in this day and age: being connected 24/7 and having unlimited ways to voice opinions, read news, and interact with people on a social level: things have gotten out of hand.

I work in municipal government, so I’m on the receiving end of most of the flak. People think that we should have every road spotless before rush hour, that the city runs on an endless supply of labour, road salt, trucks and time. The amount of times I have been yelled at, scolded, berated, etc this week has been unfathomable. It’s really making me wonder where peoples sense of community has gone. I grew up in a rural part of Langley. My parents paid taxes, but not once did we call the City demanding they come and shovel or plow our road. Why? Because we are not priority. There’s thousands of kilometers of busy roadways that need to be kept in immaculate condition to allow for safe access of commuters and commercial trucks.What did I do this winter? I got out there myself, with my sister and salted our own road, with our own salt.

Anyways – Microrant. I don’t want to blog about the negative parts of my life. I’ve powered through the week with early wake ups and the result has been quite positive. The amount of time I’ve had to reflect on the new year has been good. I’m looking forward to the next three weeks, as I’m hoping a better work routine will result in more getting done. As much as I love overtime, because I can bank that for more days off (bring on the adventure!) I really enjoyed the days this week where I was able to just be with myself.

I have the next 4 days off, and weather pending, I’m hoping to get a lot of me time in, and get some more use out of my new Fitbit! Next weeks posts should come with a little more content: Dodgeball is starting up and I’m excited to meet some new people and get back in to a sport that I really love.

Cheers!

 

-M

 

 

How to Not Suck at Building Habits.

I really don’t know how or what to write about this morning, and have shamelessly stolen this title from Julians post this morning. It was an interesting blog about how and why habits are so hard to form, even though we’re aware internally about how important they are. The link for the post can be found here: https://www.damnearlydays.com/daily-dose/how-not-to-suck-at-building-habits

There was a few points that really spoke to me. First was in regards to habit forming around friends. It made me smile when I read the line that “They don’t want to drink, but their friends drink, so they end up having a few,” because not even 9 hours ago, I told Josh and Jessica “No you know what I’ve got an early morning, I’ll catch you in the morning!” We weren’t planning on drinking but the concept is very much the same.

With my Damn Early Days, I’ve progresses a little bit. baby steps. I’ve started a routine of making breakfast again. More than one food group, and coffee to pair. Seems trivial, but I usually skip breakfast or drive through Tim’s on the way to work, so it’s a nice change for me. As Julians article states: Start small. Start small! That’s the last thing I like to do! I’m BIG! And I like doing BIG things. And that’s effected me for good and bad. I need to hold myself back. Looking back, when I was learning to run distance, I was the same way. I was sure you could just RUN, and you just keep going as hard as you can, until you can’t run any more, and eventually you got better. It took 2 classes to be broken and humbled. I had to restart, and start sloooooow. I hated it at first, but the slow steady interval training showed insane results that I never thought I’d see, slowly, but steadily! I think I really need to do that with other parts of my life.

Part of this 21 day commitment is a great social group of people all doing the same thing as me. It’s a little daunting because everyone who discusses their routines are in very different parts of their life than me. People speak of struggling to set fitness challenges, work challenges and so on and so forth for the next four weeks that I couldn’t even imagine hitting in a year, two years, five?? But I need to focus on the fact that everyone starts small. Every one starts out different and everyone else has different skills and attributes than I do.

I was speaking to Michelle last night, a friend I met over the summer who’s an amazing artist. Every now and then she shows me something that she’s working on and it simply blows me away. I always think about how I wish I had more artistic talent. I told her that and she had a pretty blunt answer. “You’re not going to get better if you don’t practice.” I know this is so true, but I never really let that resonate. As I type this, I’m thinking that along with my writing, I’m going to try to get back in to something related to the arts. Either painting, which I have no experience in, or dive deeper and try to really evolve as a hobby photographer. I have the ability to do both, but now I just need the accountability to bring this to fruition.

So, reader, if you see me in the new future, hold me accountable. I know I’ll need it. I know that I need a support system and that it’s okay to ask for that.

Until tomorrow.15826688_10154881292144028_796670101236545602_n

 

-M

Overcoming the Challenge of Hating Your Job.

I’m sitting here with a cup of coffee. Its 5:30 AM and I have been up for an hour. I’m dressing putting on pants and getting in my icy cold car. The frigid airs out side give warning that to impending day will be similar to last night. A flurry of angry, passive-aggressive tweets, a few slurs, and copious amounts of me shrugging at my screen, wondering if anything I do is actually making a difference in this city struggling with snow.

Part of 21 DED is to reset. To create a new routine and to focus on the day. I feel like I’m behind everyone else, because I’m not lucky enough to work my own hours, or I don’t live a short walk/bike/drive to work. A lot of my day is spent commuting, and it’s 100% affecting my daily physical and mental health. I can’t wait to change this. I’m actively looking to work from home this year, and/or move closer to the office. Spending a considerable amount of your day in the car is not always a good thing.

Yesterday, day one, I had an excellent morning. I picked Josh up in the morning and we headed in to town together. He started work at 9, and I at noon. Arriving at his office 45 minutes early, we stopped in at one of Vancouver’s many independent coffee shops. Treating ourselves to Josh’s first pour-over, we enjoyed a morning discussing the day and talking about whatever came to mind. It felt nice; something we do all the time, but never in the morning. After Josh left for work, I did what I had committed to do in yesterdays post: I went to the book store and bought my first book of the year (I hope not the last). I settled in to a different shop, closure to work, and dove in. It felt amazing to disconnect and immerse my self in a paperback of fiction; forgetting everything else running through my mind for almost three hours. My alarm buzzed and I headed in to punch in.

The day blurred by. I wish I could talk more about it, but it’s so stressful that even thinking about putting a paragraph down on here makes me anxious. I think in reflection of how negative this blog is, I’m going to make a valiant effort to be as positive to ever single person that I interact with today. It’s an extremely tall order, but rather than allow people to bring me down, I am going to build up this wall of positivity and attempt to keep people from bringing my attitude down to their levels.

I’ve gotten really in to Dodgeball (more and that later) and as a volunteer for the new Langley League, I’m excited to meet up with the other volunteers for dinner tonight. I’m excited to meet new people and really start to expand my social circle over the next couple of months.

Anyways – Not a lot of depth today, sorry. But I promise that I’ll think of some good topics in the coming week to really produce some great content in the coming month!

Until tomorrow.

-M

 

22 Damn Early Days.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m starting 21 Damn Early Days with Chasing Sunrise this month. I started off with updating my blog for the first time in a year. With all my excitement, it turns out that I was a day early, and it started this morning. Fine by me, I got a head start on every body. And with day one officially here, I’m already off to a good start. I’m coffee’d, dressed, kitchen’s cleaned, and I’m sitting at my desk listening to tunes and doing this.

I spoke about getting more fit, and being more accountable for myself. On the first I picked up a Fitbit Surge, and I was excited to take it out for a test drive. I met up with my friend Lindsay, and went up to Mount Seymour (arguably my favourite mountain for hiking due to the view to hardness ratio) and trekked out for a couple hours on our snow shoes. I’ve known Lindsey for a number of years, and we’d gotten quite close in the past: She was one my best friends wife’s best friend, and we worked in the same office together for a while back in 2015. Two years ago, she and her roommate were the catalysts to get me in to running, and they were at the finish line when I finished my first 5K. When I went back to 3-1-1 we did start to drift. Not for any reason, really. We both have busy lives and it’s a challenge to balance everything. The thing I love about her: as soon as we get in the car together, it’s like I saw her an hour ago. All in all: GREAT times. Ended the day well above my required steps on my Fitbit, and ran an awesome caloric deficit.

I’m looking forward to getting a few words everyday. I’ve been thinking about my routine, about how I leave everything to the last possible minute, and worry about it then. Reading about what others do, especially in the morning, is making me realize how important it is to prioritize, set goals and to schedule a little better. I always consider big picture things, but never break things down to daily successes. I think a large part of my anxiety, and my stress comes from the fact that I focus so hard on one big item, that all the little stuff that gets in the way of that builds up. I need to slow down in a sense, and I need to realize that it’s easier to take steps one at a time.

I’m going to pick up Josh to go for a walk before work this morning. Veiled to him as Pokehunting (Yeah we got HARD addicted to Pokemon go) I’m excited to get a good healthy walk in, and to have a partner to talk to in the car on the commute in to Vancouver. The best part? Josh starts work at 9:00, and I don’t start until noon. Rather than go to work early and go online, like I typically would, I’m bringing gym clothes, and a book. Depending on how much walking we get in, I’m going to crash in a comfy chair in a coffee shop, and I’m going to start reading again. I used to read every day, and looking back, I don’t think I’ve read an actual book, made of paper, in years.

So short and sweet, like I promised. 500 words, or so, a day. Julian: Thanks for helping kick off 2017. I hope I can stay accountable.

 

img_3519

The rise and fall of 2016.

 

In typical “New Year, New Me,” fashion, I was making my annual look back on 2016, reminiscing on all the amazing things I accomplished, experienced, and failed at. Blogging was certainly something I can throw in the fail bucket. As you can tell from the archive link: I made it somewhat constantly for… one third the year. Post Thailand I kinda got in to the swing of having too much fun.

So what’s happened? I guess that depends on how you look at it? My year was amazing, and shitty. Memorable and unmemorable. There was peaks and valleys. But overall: I think it was very positive. I got home and settled back home after Thailand, and Spring quickly turned to Summer, and with ‘Festival Season’ in full swing this year, I was lucky to meet some amazing, beautiful new humans; strengthen friendships, and grow as a person.

The downside of things, would be along with this blog, I stopped exercising. My jump on the year diminished, and I fell in a rut of staying out late, socializing, eating and drinking. Without getting in to it too much right now, I think this has led to a serious down swing in my emotional well being. The last couple of months I have been looking for anything other than myself to blame my depression and mental health on, other than myself. The last couple weeks I’ve really started to turn myself around. I need to hold myself accountable for my own actions. I need to focus on me, and I need to make a real effort to be the person I want to be.

I sat down to type up a year-in-review style blog, but I think I really need to spread some things out. I have started up with 21 Damn Early Days, which I blogged about last year in Feb/March. I think that rather than focusing on longer, more detailed blogs, I am going to use my mornings to wake up, reflect, and write. Julian offered an amazing goal, in which his cell phone goes on Airplane Mode, and he writes for at least an hour, or until he gets out 500 words. Along with getting back on the fitness train, I really feel I need to do that, too. I LIKE writing! This right now is incredibly therapeutic. Even though nobody reads this (trust me, I can see the page views!) it’s nice being able to write my thoughts and feelings out.

So yeah. Short and sweet. I fell off. I got derailed. And I am going to try again.

  • M

My Day in Taipei

It’s literally been a MONTH since I updated this. I’ve been home longer than I was gone. But time flies I suppose. Not true really, but it’s been a month. Lots of ups and downs and just putting things off has finally caught up to me. But that’s for another time. My trip report still isn’t complete. And with me not getting any younger, I better get this written down before I forget it all for ever (Just kidding, this was the trip of a life time).

Since I never published my blog before, and only ever posted it and left it to reflect on, all your visitors from Facebook will likely not see this again,unless you’ve bookmarked me. It’s be back to Hikes and gym updates starting next week! 🙂

 

Anyways – Taipei. For you all who may need refreshing: I woke up insanely early and made my way to BKK International Airport on roughly 2.5 hours of sleep. I had a couple hours to kill and I was hungry and this was my last shot at amazing Thai food. I checked my luggage and went to find food. I settled for a fabulous meal of a breakfast sandwich, tater tots, and coffee and Burger King. After hogging all the plugs in the lounge, charging my iPad, iPhone, and portable charger, I boarded the plane to make my way to one of the most high-tech cities in the world. As luck would have, I was sat next to a dude who was way to interested in telling me his life story and how he travelled a lot for work. I smiled and listened for a little bit, but after about 45 minutes of flying, lack of sleep caught up to me and I didn’t hear from him until he shook me awake to let us know we were to get off the plane.

I stepped in to a slightly familiar place, being in Taipei International less than a month prior. Checking that I had all my carry on, instead of making my way to the next Terminal, I headed out to customs to check out the City. I had paid a little extra, $20 I think, to have an extended layover in hopes of exploring Taipei. I had always dreamed of seeing Taipei 101 in person, and this was my prime chance to check it out. The Airport offered a free tour to multiple locations in the city, for people with long enough layovers. The guide gave me the bad news that the tour no longer went to Taipei 101, but urged me to go anyways. “Take the tour to the first location and check it out, because it is really interesting, and then take the metro downtown, and bus back tonight.” Wow. Ok sure I can totally handle that… Fingers crossed. I made my way to the counter, checked in and boarded a massive double decker bus. There was a total of THREE people on the tour.

The guide spoke the entire way from the airport to the city, which was a good 3-40 minutes. I learned more about Taipei, Taiwan and China in that 40 minutes than I had in my entire life. I shamefully did not know that Taiwan was under the Republic of China, and I did not know that there was many different types of Taiwanese people. I think my favourite part of the lesson was when he announced “Taiwan is very free to do what we want. We speak out against government without fear. We have over 100 channels on TV! China? NO Channels!”

Our first (and my only stop) was at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, part of the Memorial Square. This stop was super interesting as the museum had a lot of things regarding the War, Canada, and Vancouver! The hall had 2 guards that stood perfectly still for an hour at a time, and then every hour, swapped out. I need to reiterate that they stood PERFECTLY still. Not like a guard in England. They were statues. After they changed, a guard would walk up to each of them, ensure that their uniform was impeccable, and adjust them to mirror perfectly.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After exploring the grounds, I headed out on my own in search of Wi-Fi, some food, and an ATM so I could find my way to the heart of the City. The Memorial Hall was based in the wedding district of the City, almost like New West. I walked down and popped in to a tea shop, ordered something to eat, and worked out how to get to the metro, and to the downtown core. Taipei is an incredibly we laid out city. The underground that they have set up is miles aIMG_8867head of anything I had experienced elsewhere, and it was a refreshing change to waving down trucks on the side of the road in Thailand. The Metro took my right to the base of the Taipei 101. I stepped out and looked up. Prior to this, the largest building I had ever seen was the Columbia Centre in Seattle. this was a good 30 stories taller. After paying my entrance, I made my way up to the observatory in the world record breaking ‘fastest elevator in the world.’ After 10 seconds or so, I stepped out on to the 89th floor to look over the City. It was unreal. The sprawl, the layout, and how the city adapted to the mountains and valleys as is reached past my line of site was humbling. Seeing the curvature of the earth, while subtle, was something to take in as well.

After taking in the sights, I elevatored down to the fifth floor and explored probably one of the most expensive malls I’d ever been in. On the main floor I 360’d a Tom Ford, next to a Dior, next to a Burberry, next to a Luis Vuitton, next to a Fendi store. This went on for all five stories. I window shopped until I couldn’t take any more, and retreated to the only affordable part of the centre: the food court. Enjoying some of the best ramen I’d had in my short life, I settled up and made my way across the street to try my luck at public transit once more. Stepping out on the street was pretty cool, as Taipei has a pretty expansive Bike Share program, which is something Vancouver is starting IMG_8877up this summer. There was 100’s of identical bikes being ridden all over by tourists, business people, and joe schmoes all over. I made my way across the street to purchase my bus pass and went to sit on the bench to wait for my ride home.

After watching no busses come to my stop for almost an hour, I walked back to the station and ask what time I could expect the bus to be coming by. I then learned that I was at the wrong stop, and was promptly collected by a double decker bus on route to the airport. The ride itself was fascinating, as it twisted through different parts of the city. It was amazing to see the different sections. Unlike Vancouver, they had areas for shopping for specific things. One of the saddest, yet most exciting roads I drove down was the street that was literally LINED with pet stores, with hundreds of tiny puppies jumping up at passerby’s in the window.

I disembarked at the airport and walked directly past everyone waiting in line at the ticket booth, thanking myself that I haIMG_8887d mine issued in Thailand. I got to my gate and settled in to wait for my flight. By this time it was almost 11 PM, and save for 2 short sleeps (the hostel in Bangkok, and the flight to Taipei) I was losing wind fast. I was adamant to stay awake until I was on the plane, so my sleep wouldn’t be interrupted. Finally, after what seems like the worlds longest boarding process, I was on my plane. By this time, I was Sufficiently grumpy and incredibly irate. I’m not a huge fan of crowds, so I sat and waited until last to get on. Navigating to my coach seat was an ordeal. My flight was jam packed, compared to me way there, and someone was in my seat. A family from India was visiting relatives in Surrey for the first time. The son, my seat stealer was very excited about this, and asked if he could have my window seat. I declined as politely (not really) as I could and promptly closed the shade and leaned my pillow up against it. The flight was delayed due to a domino effect on the tarmac, and we ended up waiting almost 40 minutes to take off. By this time I was struggling to stay awake, with the only thing doing so being my neighbors breath and inability to understand that my headphones indicated that I had no real desire to talk to him. I lost resort told him that I don’t like flying and took out a couple of Valium from my walk on bag. I told him I was going to try to get a little shut eye and that I would chat when I woke up in a few hours.

13 hours later I woke up to the stewardess shaking me, letting me know that it was time to go. I looked around to an empty plane and blushed. I slept an entire flight across the Pacific Ocean. I grabbed my things, thanked them for a lovely flight and hustled off the plane. It was 7:00 PM in Vancouver and I was excited to see my friends and family. I grabbed my gear and navigated through customs. Greeted by Alex and Mom, and a temperature a little more bearable, I made my way home.

The trip behind me, I spent the night in awe. It was such a whirlwind, and we packed so much in to such a short trip. I now understood what it meant to truly travel, versus going on a vacation. I can’t wait to hit the road again.

 

Here’s to the next adventure.

 

 

Cheers.

Learning to Dive in Koh Tao

Whelp… coming close to the end of the adventure. Our final destination in Thailand is a good one: The amazing island of Koh Tao, an incredibly beautiful, small island located in the middle of the Gulf of Thailand. Koh Tao is world famous for it’s dive sites, and a popular place to spot Sea Turtles, Whale Sharks, and a multitude of tropical fish. After all the excitement at the Full Moon Party, I think we were all looking for something a little slower pace and a little more relaxing.

Leaving to Koh Tao was uneventful. In typical Thai fashion, the boat was late, for no other reason than “it’s late.” We boarded an hour late and a short trip later, we were offloading and in the back of a truck on our way to Carabao Dive Resort on the other side of the island. Being late, we quickly hustled in to the office to get started on day one of our open water dive course. Hoping that we were not to late, we were told to relax: day one was strictly orientation, and was only the two of us.

After unloading our packs in the dorm and ordering food at the restaurant onsite, we settled in to our class room and watched our diving movie. A couple hours later, we were all schooled up, and ready to retire for the night, to complete homework and finally get some R & R. The dorm in Carabau was really interesting. A huge room, with 8 bunk beds, but big, almost queen sized, with lots of locker space and a view to kill. When we arrived we had only two roommates: a couple quiet dudes from Germany. We spent the night chilling out, enjoying the A/C and talking to loved ones back home.

The next morning, bright and early we got back in to class. We found out that our two German friends were also going to be taking their Open Water Certification with us. The morning flew by, as our instructor, Xavier, taught us the ins and outs of basic diving and teaching us how to breath and how to use the SCUBA equipment. After a quick lunch we were already on the boat, on our way to Shark Bay, to do some hands on learning. Sadly, or luckily, depending on how you look at it, we saw no sharks, but had a blast learning how to do the basics, staying under the surface for about an hour. Pretty surreal stuff, especially for the first time.

After our lesson, we retired for the night, and took a short nap again. While it seems easy, diving really took a lot out of me, and i found myself drained. We chilled out for a bit, before getting dressed to head back up island in to town. Kirsti and Russ had made it to the Island and I wanted very much to have a little bit more of a relaxing night with them before parting ways again. Josh and I hitch hiked, and were picked up by an old local lady, and her dog on a scooter. Being hesitant at first, given my scooter history this trip, the three of us, and the dog, made out way in to town. Arriving all in one piece, we met up and found a neat little Italian place for dinner, as we all still seemed to need some carbs after a rough full moon.

The next morning we had our second day of classes, finishing off our book work and testing, and then heading back out to Shark Bay (again, no sharks, don’t worry Mom) for the final of our skills tests, and a quick fun dive around the bay. What can I say? totally totally surreal. Floating, and swimming under water was one of the coolest experiences of my life. Even though I just spent two days learning, i kept catching myself forgetting to breath, as I was entranced in the fact that I was 30 feet under water.

Time out. I just realized that we had dinner with Kirsti and Russ this night. Not the night prior. We didn’t do shit the night before. The only reason I remember this is because Xavier gave us the terrible news that we had to be up and on the boat. I refuse to edit my blogs, so… deal with it.

The next morning the four us were up and in the water by 7:00 It was great, since the air was still cool, and it was easier to get suited up. We dropped anchor at a dive side called Shark Island. Again, Mom: No sharks. It’s called that due to the shape of the island, which looked like a huge fin. This was our first big deep dive. Going down 18 meters, we explored and circled the whole little island, seeing a sting ray, angel fish, barracuda, and thousands of other fish. After an hour, we surfaced, and made our way to our last site for diving, which took us on a tour of an old sunken diving boat, as well as some fantastic coral.

Back on deck Josh had made friends with the boats skipper, and assisted in catching some fish to be used for dinner that night. Who knew how simple it was to catch fish with nothing more than a piece of twine, a hook, and some rice. Several dumb fish later, we were on our way home for lunch. We made it to shore, and put away our gear, now officially divers. IMG_8802

I honestly cannot wait to dive again. While it was on my bucket list, I was quite hesitant. I’m not big on being in areas where I feel trapped, and 18 meters under the water was definitely daunting. I’m looking forward to some of the amazing dive sites that BC has to offer. In the afternoon we packed up, as it was our last night in Koa Tao. We opted to go to a bar just a short walk away, to enjoy the scenery, relax, and, of all things, play some chess. After getting my ass kicked twice, I kindly declined a third game and focused on my drink at hand, discussing our game plan for the next day.

IMG_8826We retired early, and woke up with our bags ready to go. Bidding our good byes to our German friends, we made our way to the dock to catch a  catamaran to the mainland. A short two hours later, we were back on shore and loading on to a bus. Speaking too soon, Josh proclaimed that we were finally going to get a good bus, as the company we’d booked through was one of the best. 2 hours in to our trip, the AC turned off, and the bust started heating up. The driver opened all the windows that opened, two of them, and continued down the road. 30 minutes later, the bus smelled like a boys middle school locker room, and I wager half the people in the bus had opted not to wear deodorant. The bus pulled off to the side of the road for a couple hours while we waited for a second bus to pick us up. After reloading our baggage and getting back on a nice cool bus, we uneventfully made our final destination back to where is all began: The Oasis Hostel, Bangkok. With a few hours to spare before bed, we toured Khao San road one last time, picking up trinkets and gifts for our friends back home. I had to leave at 5 AM, so I wanted as little sleep as possible, so that I could sleep the entire way on my flights. Getting back around midnight, we showered, and went over luggage, packing as much in to my bag as possible, so that Josh’s trip to Japan could be a little bit lighter. I lay down to sleep, sad that this was the last day together, but excited for the next: A full day solo, in Taipai!

IMG_8834

Gotta love Thai Transit.

That time I got mugged at knife-point at the Full Moon Party

Getting in to Koh Phangan Was one of the smoothest transportation arrangements that we’d have had to date. Having grabbed our bags off the boat, we walked to the beginning of the pier to be inundated with people herding tourists in to truck beds to distribute them to their appropriate hostel. We were all here for one thing: Full Moon Party.

After a short trip to the other side of the small island, Josh and I unloaded in front of our appropriately named hostel: Lazy House. It was getting late, and the parties weren’t kicking off until the following day. After an all day journey, the last thing that I really planned on doing was getting drunk, or anything beyond updating my blog. We were shown our room, which was 3 pairs of bunk beds. We were told that we’d have the place to ourselves tonight, but we would almost certainly have roommates the following days.

We claimed our bunks, and unpacked and got the AC on cold. We quickly found out that, while the hostel has WIFI: it was either broken in our area, or the signal didn’t reach the dorm. Giving up on blogging, as we didn’t want the laptop to leave the room, we walked over to the main hostel, a short block away. We were greeted with the offer of “all-u-can-eat BBQ.” We were famished and happily dropped the 300 Baht (12 dollars) to scarf down some western style food.While the food was sub-par, feeling somewhat disappointed, we found out that the BBQ included one free drink at the pool bar (oh yea, there was a pool), which we claimed. Considering the drink was on the menu for 200 Baht, we were both happy. After dinner, Josh was like, “What do you wanna do tonight?” and I simply replied “Man…. nothing. I wanna drink a beer and watch a movie.” So we sat down and we chilled out with a few of the other hostel guests and had a low key night.

Being the early riser I am, I woke up around 7 and went in search of coffee and something to eat. Have I mentioned how much I miss real coffee? I can’t wait for my french press, holy shit. Anyways. I hopped back in bed, caffeinated, and started to read, while Josh began his morning routine. While he was showering, I was greeted by three of our soon to be 4 roommates for the next 48 hours: Laura, Louise, and Fiona; Three lovely girls from Ireland. we quickly all became friendly and after everyone claimed a bed, we made our way to breakfast and then back to the pool for some more lazy pool time. 502

Koh Phangan has majorly capitalized on the whole Full Moon Party. Going in to this, I was expecting a couple days of chilling out, and one day of going hard. I quickly learned that, no, this is pretty much a week long event. Lazy pool time had evolved in to the 5 of us attempting to play pool volleyball, which was great fun, regardless of the pitiful score. While enjoying a steady supply of beers while enjoying the shady side of a refreshing pool, we were asked a half dozen times if we were going to be at the Jungle Party tonight. Sounded cool. Girls were in. Russ and Kirsti were in (they had just made it to the island and planned on meeting us later). Josh was in. I was in. After a quick stop off at the room to change, freshen up and to get some baht, we made our way out to the party.

The first leg of the trip was to the pool, naturally, as the crowd was getting started with cheap buckets of booze, beer pong, and various other drinking games. Meeting at nine, we figured we enjoy our time here a couple of hours, as the drinks were quite expensive at the actual party itself. Josh had to run back to the room for a minute for something, and he returned with our 6th roommate: Ryan. Ryan, I can only explain as… well… Have you ever seen the cartoon Recess? He Looked exactly like Mikey, but instead of poetry he just really liked to talk about LSD. Being quite drunk at this point, I aptly pronounced that going forward, his name would be Hot Ryan. There was a cheers in agreeance, and we continued to party until our shuttle came.

11:30 rolls around and our truck full of rowdy, drunk, hostelers gets dropped at the end of a dirt road, and we are quickly (as we could) were ushered down this pathway with hundreds of other equally inebriated party goers. The closer we got, the deeper, and louder the Bass got. This sounded massive. Like… bigger than I expected. We get to the ticket booth, trading our slips of paper for wrist stamps and walk in to a magical forest of black lights, glow paint, pails of alcohol, fire dancers, and deep trance electronic music. I like this. I like this a lot. In typical group fashion: we all got lost within the hour and we spent the evening doing our own things. This was good because within 3 hours of knowing Hot Ryan, I didn’t like him. He simply grinded my gears all wrong, and I regretted giving him a nickname. After getting My face/beard painted with the girls, I wanted to dance. I paired off with Laura and made our way to the stage. It was packed, and I wanted to be near the front. I showed Laura how to be a little Canadian: Tapping people on the shoulder, saying something nice about them, and asking if we could move in front of them for a minute. less than a song later we were on the platform in front of the DJ, having an amazing time.

We all left the party around 4:00, citing an early night for the real Full Moon Party that night. After showering out all the neon in my hair I stumbled in to a room of people getting up to bed, and Ryan pronounced “Hey man it’s Hot Ryan! I made it home!” With a mumble, I informed him that no, he’s no longer Hot Ryan. And given his appeal, he’s now “Hot Pocket.”

Sleeping in a bit the next morning, and nursing a shockingly mild hang over, we all opted to do what we did best: pool time. We claimed our shady spot, and geared of for doing little of nothing until the night time. I managed to keep dry until two, when I dipped in to cool down, and cracked my first beer. After confirming that I had no spins or stomach flips from the night before, I announced that I was indeed good to go. Once finished, we made our way in to town, in search of body paint, neon tank tops and inappropriately tight bottoms.I mean: We needed to fit in right? Wrong. We needed to stand out.

After eating, we all made our way back to our now local haunt, the pool bar, for face painting, buckets, and debauchery. Sadly, for me, the night was WAY too hot. And I couldn’t just cool down with more gin. I knew that would get mad, and this is probably the only Full Moon that I am going to experience. So I just let myself sweat, It was gross, but who cares, We were having a blast. We spent the night covering ourselves with paint, drinking and running around meeting new people. At around midnight, we decided: lets head to the beach, it’s time to experience the full moon.”

We snaked through the town, buckets in hand, following the crowd all heading to the same place. It felt like the Celebration of Light on steroids. Loud music pounded from windows, people openly sold liquor, paint, neon, and LED’s on the sidewalk. None of that could distract me from the goal of hitting that beach though. And we hit it hard. Maybe a little too hard.

The party was unreal. You step on the beach and it goes until you cannot see, in both directions. There’s stages every couple hundred feet with a different DJ and a different style of music. I was loving it. Shortly after, one of my friends needed to tap out. Too much to drink too fast, and needed to get home. Fiona and Josh opted to help her back to the hostel. I was a big guy, and I didn’t need supervision, and leaving two girls alone out here is absurd. So I went on my way, zig-zagging up and down the beach, stopping only for people who wanted pictures with me, for the next hour or so

Soon after that, I realized that it really wasn’t that fun alone, and attempted to find my way home.Here’s where it gets tricky. There’s 50,000+ people crammed on to a beach, and It’s pitch black, and I have no idea where I am. I walked until I could make an educated guess where I need to step out and head inland. to my credit, I was pretty close. Sadly not close enough. I strayed away from the crowd and made my way to a group of pople trying to get fares for their taxi. One man asked if I needed a ride, and I asked him if he could point me in the direction of Lazy House Hostel, since I didn’t want to pay for a cab, when I knew I could walk. He pointed me down an ally and told me to head that way and I should see it.

I hould have paid for the cab. As I made my way down the ally I man that I easilly had a foot on came up to me. He started at me and showed me the knife in his hand. I promptly unzipped my fanny pack (what, my hot pants didn’t have pockets, ok?) and gave him my wallet, while showing I had nothing in there. He opened the bill fold and took out all my cash: only about 1,300 Baht, since we had all left our ID’s and extra cash in our safes in the room. He dropped my wallet and booked it. I picked it up and hustled in the opposite direction. I hustled home, freaking out, and let every one know what’d happened. All in all, an unsuccessful Full Moon, but an experience that I will never forget.

Josh and I went to sleep, along with Fiona, Louise, and Laura shortly after: The boys needed to leave early, and the sun was about to come up. We packed in the morning, and hailed a cab. As we walked out of the room, Hot Pocket walked in. He had been out all night. Good for him, I guess. At least I didn’t have to deal with him.

All in all, this was one of my favorite legs of the trip. I got to meet some amazing people that I will never ever forget, and for the first time, really got to experience group hosteling. Something that I’m experiencing again now, in Koh Tao, but that’s a story for another day 🙂

13054943_10209605857971407_1287229971_o

Hot Pocket Cameo on the left.