You have been more to me than a checklist of cities, but if I had to use checkmarks, they would be in the shape of lightening bolts for the moments that were too quick to catch but still made a thunderous roar. You have thrown hailstorms and terrible timing at me along with everyday hallelujahs and souls that were too good for me to hold. You have been the opposite of restful, but the cure to my restless. You have taught this lover of words that there is a love beyond words. I leave you with sand in my shoes, chaos in my heart, and a little more understanding of why people do what they do. My suitcase is heavy. My heart is full.
Vancouver, I am ready to come home.
I had the joy of being able to meet up with our Japan tour group friends tonight for one last dinner altogether in Hong Kong before Tiff and I head back to Vancouver. It was different being able to see glimpses into their lives in Hong Kong, like there is something more that holds us together than merely the circumstance of being in a foreign country. We now know each other outside of our original circumstances.
I like how intentional having a meal together is. Breaking bread together holds a spirit of thanksgiving and something about food blesses the people who share it. My heart was so, so full tonight, and I cannot keep count of the times I have said, “Please come to visit Vancouver.”
“It’s rare to see people travel the way you do. Even if people make friends, they usually still keep to themselves, but you guys travel like family.”
I’ve never easily made friends with people from Hong Kong, because of the limits of my Cantonese, but I’m slowly learning that there is something about love that surpasses language barriers. A week ago, there people were strangers, but yesterday, I was sad to say goodbye to them. The week flew by too quickly, and I will miss these people greatly – these people who know how to wait on each other and serve one another in ways that make words unnecessary.
Off to Seoul we go tonight!
Reasons to be grateful:
– We went to Disneyland today!! It’s the happiest place on earth, so what is there not to be grateful of? I am thankful for childhood joys being brought to life.
– I was still nauseous today so I didn’t go on all the rides, but we hung out with our new friends, and I’m convinced that the company alone makes this trip worthwhile. They are so good to me and care for me so well – giving me medicine for my stomach even when I don’t complain or ask for anything and always making sure I’m okay. I am thankful for strangers who become un-strangers through kindness.
– Because I didn’t want to risk going on some of the rides, I got to spend some time with this little brat. I’m not one for kids, but this rascal won my heart ten times over somehow. He is loud and rambunctious and is always sprinting off somewhere, but knows too well when the right moment is to grab your hand. And he is such a funny fellow:
“I wanted to be Minnie Mouse, but my mom said Minnie Mouse is a girl, so I guess I have to be Mickey.”
I am thankful for a force that reminds me to never stop moving.
– I left my film camera on a bench for a minute, and when I turned back to get it, it was gone! But luckily enough, someone put it in the lost and found, so you can imagine my relief when it turned up! I am so, so happy that I didn’t lose it! I felt even more grateful when I told one of our friends, and he ran ahead even faster than me to help me look for my camera. I am thankful for friends who don’t just stand by you, but run with you.
– Tonight, we all piled into one hotel room and ate a late night meal together on a makeshift table. As we peeled crab shells and shared stories, I thought about how my favourite thing about this group of people is that we are all at different life stages, yet we are friends. There is a mother and her child, a honey-mooning a couple, an aunt and her high school niece, and then us, two university students. I am thankful that there is always common ground to be found.
One thing you often learn while traveling is how to become more resilient than you were before you left home. I’ve dealt with bad weather, bad timing, and bad washrooms, and while these things might send me packing in Vancouver, here, I force myself to keep my chin up, because this is probably the only chance I will get to see some of the things I’m about to see. But while my mind has been learning these lessons, my body has had some issues catching up. My dad always says that my body is like tofu, which basically means that I have a terrible immune system. There isn’t a single place I’ve travelled to that I haven’t gotten sick, so it was inevitable that yesterday, after a few too many 360’s on a roller coaster and some sketchy food, I spent the better part of my day with my head in a toilet. Here is what I ate for breakfast this morning, ha. But as traveling has taught me to see a silver lining in everything, I’m grateful this happened on this leg of the trip. Half the people I’m traveling with in Japan are mothers (not to mention Asian mothers), so that means I have an endless supply of medication and home remedies to help me through this terribly timed health crisis (I’m being overdramatic. I’m fine, haha). Anyways, here is a few pictures and a short post on Tokyo:
We arrived in Tokyo yesterday afternoon, and while I didn’t have enough time in Kyoto to catch the vibe, I knew the second we arrived in Tokyo that it is the big city in Japan. There’s less bikes, more lights, and a significant hustle in everyone’s step. It feels like we are smack dab in the middle of everything, and it’s overwhelming, but I love my big cities. I also got to fulfill one of my childhood dreams by seeing the life-sized Gundam at Diver City! (I immediately ran to the washroom after taking this picture, but I have never been so happy while vomiting in my life.) We have two days left in this beautiful country, and hopefully my stomach will cooperate with me for the rest of our stay!
Being part of this tour has been a huge gift, because of the lovely people we have met. Tonight, we lit sparklers by the water, and my heart swelled at how fire can light up people’s faces in more ways than one.
1. Our tour guide comes up to us and shows us a picture of his daughter dressed up as Princess Anna. “Isn’t she pretty?” he says, “All I want to do right now is go home and play with her.” He walks away listening to the soundtrack of Frozen playing from his phone, and I think of all the times I haven’t been home.
2. There is a couple on their honeymoon on our tour, and they are the sweetest two people I have ever met. A 6-year old child and his mother sit next to them on the bus, and they often buy the little boy toys and treats, even though they were strangers before this trip. People who are loved are often kind to others, because a love poured out usually spills over.
3. “Here, let me tie that for you,” she says as she wraps my sash around my waist, “It’s a ‘Hello Kitty’ bow – much cuter and better suited for you.” All you see when you look into her eyes are her children, and she does not stop being a mother when they are out of her sight.
4. A lady often rushes to our side whenever we don’t understand what’s happening. She is like a superhero with glasses and a British accent; always somehow there to save us without being asked. She moved to Hong Kong for her husband, but keeps London in her home.
“Everything else outside is Hong Kong. My friends, my family, my work – all Chinese,” she says, pulling an Earl Grey tea bag out of her purse, “But everything inside my apartment is London as I know it.”