Archive for the 'travel memoirs' Category

The Dawn of Happiness

December 21, 2010

(From my travel journal – day 3 at BLES)

After thirty-six hours of traveling, three flights, and just about four hours of sleep, I arrived in Sukhothai. This magical little airport amidst rice fields and farmers is where the journey would really begin. Sukhothai means dawn of happiness is Thai, and that is exactly where I was flying to. The sadness and the ugliness of the world had seemed to be winning over the good – and I hadn’t given myself the time or space to get back on my feet and see the brighter side of life.

But after the dark comes the light and the dawn of happiness, for me in the shape of Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary. This has been a dream since discovering and learning about this place, these elephants and the incredible woman that founded it. As I said to Katherine on my first day, it felt I was being reunited with the elephants rather than meeting them for the first time.

And what elephants they are. Pang Dow moves me deeply every time I see her. I’ve scrubbed her down three times so far, and sometimes after having enough to drink, she’ll lean into you just to be. Katherine describes her in one word as determined and that is incredibly apt. Read her story here. I am in awe of her and she will be an inspiration in my life.

Wassana’s songs are the perfect start to any day, Lom is such a darling and Mee Chok the cutest little thing. Pang Suai is a rock, and all the other ones, all so special. They are the happiest elephants I ever did meet, despite everything they went through.

The morning starts with a scrub for the elephants before breakfast – I am first out of bed and waiting for the elephants –  and then we set out on a walk with the elephants and simply observe. Occasionally one or two will drop by to say hello, but often it’s like watching elephants in the wild. We return for lunch and another quick hose down and swim for the elephants in the heat of the day. The hut where we eat lunch overlooks the pond and it’s pure bliss to watch them play in the water while we enjoy the delicious food.
We set out on another walk and when we get back late afternoon, the elephants head to their overnight spot in the forest and I go for a cold shower to cool me down, the days are hot. Dogs and cats are around to cuddle with, and dinner is a wonderful time to reflect on the day. Then it’s off to bed for me around 8.30, to get up early for another scrub with Pang Dow.

It’s been an amazing start to the trip,  and I am already feeling so much better. I am surrounded by elephants, wonderful people and fresh air.


the travel bug tales: speaking english in Spain

February 17, 2010


Pueblo Ingles literally means English Village, and the Pueblo Ingles volunteer program turned a remote vacationing spot in Spain, on the border with Portugal, into an English speaking village for ten days. Spanish students and us Anglos did nothing but talk, talk and talk.  My birthday happened to fall into those ten days and it goes down as one of my best birthdays yet. Mojito’s and friends and a party to get dressed up for. For the second time in a summer, in a manner of days people I had never met became some of my closest friends.
My roommate, Lindsay, had her laptop with her and we were able to use the phone line as our internet connection and one opportunity to talk to the outside world. During an afternoon siesta, I found some time to write home about the days that were passing and that I still miss now.


I am in Spain right now, right on the border with Portugal. In the middle of fricking nowhere! It’s a place with some vacation homes but we are the only people staying here. So its very quiet and there is no shop or town nearby. It can drive us a little crazy because we are also surrounded by mountains and can feel closed in. But its quite luxurious, there is a pool, tennis court and we all live in the little houses. I share with Lindsay who is from New York and across the hall is Monica, one of the Spanish girls and Christine, the group leader. Its a lot of fun! There are lots of fun games and activities and really is a good step further for my socializing skills. The time here mostly consists of one on ones, which means you spend 50 minutes talking to one of the Spanish people so that they use their English practically. We also have group activities and games which are fun. We are playing the murder game at the moment where you need to get the person that you drew out of the hat of papers to the place that you got on another piece of paper and get them to hold something that you got on another piece of paper. Today I killed my first person; Carmen on the steps by reception with a mobile phone. So now I get the papers of who she has to kill and try and kill that one. Its good fun.

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reminisce – verb, to recall past experiences

November 10, 2009


Reading my asia journal, and going through photos of those three months, I rediscovered so much hope and drive. It was a healing journey, and so full of discovery. I remember a moment where I though” Wow, I am still only 26″. I felt young and like I could do anything. A belief that I could make changes in the world, that my life would mean something more than I imaged. All thanks to an elephant and some wonderful people I met along the way.

My parents are in Asia right now, where life is simple, the food healthy and the weather warm. I hope they have an incredible time, but I am a little envious too. They are in Singapore at the moment, which I remember best for the Indian food I ate in Little India, and the waiters that kept checking in on me because I looked like I might die of the heat of the food. So much spiciness. Fond memories.

Being in Canada, looking for that job that I envisioned there, it’s been difficult being in the moment and accepting this intermission period that will last until that dream job sees my potential and my passion. But in between the anxiety and the job applications, there is the person I became in Asia, confident, determined and powerful.

the travel bug tales: first day on Crete

September 23, 2009


It was one of the projects i discovered on the internet while in Canada, and I was sold as soon as I saw it. Sea turtle saving in Greece. ocean. beach. and fulfilling the dream of seeing this country with the food and the sun. It was the real beginning of my travels, exploring the unknown, diving in head first. I grew so much those few months, starting with day one – as my journal entry written on the first evening details.

May 15th, 2008
Sitting outside the old school building, the sun sinking slowly and I am surrounded by Crete. It was a hell of a journey to get here today. I had a reasonable sleep on the boat and awoke at about ten to five, freshened up but was feeling a bit groggy. Once off the boat there was a lot of confusion and I got on the wrong bus… oops. I ended up waiting in the middle of nowhere for about an hour until a bus going back in the direction and heading to Chania finally came along. Transferring there went smoothly, but I missed my stop and had to walk back about a kilometer. Read the rest of this entry »