Sunday, 27 January 2013


One of eight UNESCO heritage sites in the southern Indian province of Tamil Nadu, Brihadeeswarar Temple was built in 1010 A.D by Raja Raja Chola I (during the Chola Empire). One of the tallest temples in the world, it rises at its peak at 66 m (216 ft). 

Thanjavur Brihadeeswara Temple -1

Brihadeeswarar Temple, known as "The Big Temple" was the first temple constructed entirely of granite. The completion of this mammoth temple was constructed in a remarkable 5 years time.

I found this photo on Wikimedia Commons and below is the ownership/attribution credits:
By Aravindreddy.d (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, 26 January 2013


Since I ain't going anywhere for the next bit I will wander Vancouver, finding bites of pleasure around town. Food and drink bites that is! Listed below are a few of foodie finds happening now or in the near future around Greater Vancouver. Some I have or will take part in. Alas, I can not participate in all of them but I smile just thinking that the opportunity is there.

DINE-OUT VANCOUVER - Entering its 12th year, Dine-Out Vancouver is Canada's largest dining festival with over 200 participating restaurants in Greater Vancouver. Running from Jan 18 - Feb 3, 2013, foodies can enjoy a plethora of prix-fix menus at various price points depending on the restaurant. $18, $28 or $38 gives you an appetizer/salad, entree and dessert that will leave you sated and happy.

FEAST VAN - Similar to Dine-Out Vancouver, Feast Van focuses on restaurants in the east Vancouver area while also donating $1 from each prix-fix meal sold to the Strathcona Community Center Backpack Food Program. This program aids inner-city youth and families to have food when other food programs are not running (i.e. weekends). Feast Van meals are $20 or $30 and for a good cause. It runs from Jan 18 - Feb 3, 2013

HOT CHOCOLATE FESTIVAL - drooooool...whoops...ya caught me. This annual event, sponsored by City Food Magazine, is in its 3rd year and has over 60 flavours concocted by local chocolate makers. Spanning 27 days (Jan 19 - Feb 14, 2013) your New Year's resolutions do not stand a chance.

VANCOUVER INTERNATIONAL WINE FESTIVAL - All things wine can be found at this long running festival. Events around town require advance ticket sales. Not only will you be able to taste wines, you can take part in seminar, minglers, galas, lunches and dinners. Running from Feb 25 - Mar 3, 2013 make sure you buy your tickets now as many events are selling or sold out.

FESTIVAL DE LA POUTINE DE VANCOUVER (Vancouver Poutine Festival) - What?! Have I died and gone to comfort food heaven? $10 (kids free) will grant you entry and a serving of poutine at The Heritage Hall on Sat March 9, 2013 during the day. Evening event is $20 with a rock concert to enjoy while munching on your poutine. Can't get much better than this!

EAT! VANCOUVER - The weekend of May 24 - 26, 2013 will have your mouthwatering as you sample, sip and buy some foodie goodies. Food exhibitors, cooking stages, celebrity chefs, wine and beer sampling is standard here. Ticket required and some extra costs for purchases and sampling.

VANCOUVER CRAFT BEER WEEK - Craft beer is how beer should be - made in small batches and full of flavour.  May 31 - Jun 8, 2013 will find beer lovers trying amazing beers from local breweries. A great way to start off the summer.

There you have it...a few great foodie finds over the next while in Vancouver. I hope some of you get to enjoy them. I know I will!

Friday, 25 January 2013

Reposting of "The Fabric Of My Soul"

Back in 2010 I posted an entry called "The Fabric Of My Soul" about why travel, in my opinion, is more significant than many things, particularly material items. I recently remembered this entry after a conversation about experiences; how they shape us and aid in molding us into the person we are or are to become. In my opinion, travel is one of those many experiences. I   have decided to re-post that entry (cut and paste) today as a reminder to value and look forward to what lies ahead. Good or bad, what happens becomes part of us.



The fabric of my soul

I love to travel. Anyone who knows me, knows this to be true. If I am in a position where I am unable to travel, I travel around my city. Plain and simple. I am also working on making my lifelong dream of taking an RTW (round-the-world) trip. That is one reason that I am not currently travelling as I am saving my pennies to do this trip. So it with this in mind that I pose this question: Is travelling tangible? I ask this because of a conversation I had with my friend A. Now A doesn't care to travel. She's quite happy to go about her day without thinking of what far reaches of the world would be cool to explore or find adventure in. Nor is she akin to flying great distances to relax on a white sand beach to listen to mariachi music while sipping on rum punch. If she wants to go to the beach a visit to the local ones here in Vancouver will suffice. Perhaps because we share these differing ideas regarding travel that she often asks me "Why do you want to go around the world?" Now I could give a list a mile long of reasons why but the simplest answer would be that I love the world and want to see all that it.

Regardless of how many times I am asked this question from A, she will inevitably ask it again. However, it was after one particular conversation that started with her infamous question that got me thinking. We had decided to go to a cultural festival inSurrey, just across the river from Vancouver, called "Surrey Fusion Festival". A veritable feast of all things foreign, especially food, with over 25 countries and regions represented, live music and environmentally friendly businesses spread out over Surrey's Holland Park. It was A, myself and our new friend Cynthia, whom we had met early that day. Cynthia was visiting the Vancouver area from Jakarta, Indonesia and agreed to join us as we went globe-trotting, at least figuratively. I also was able to glean some information about Indonesia from Cynthia as it's islands are on my RTW itinerary (Java, Flores, Sulawesi to name a few). So after stuffing our faces with tasty ethnic delights, watching a First Nations Pow-Wow, and listening to Indian bangra music, Cynthia parted ways with us to go meet some friends. A and I took a break from the hot summer sun in a shaded area and lounged on the grass. In an attempt to impress A with the joys of travel I told her she now had a friend in Indonesia that she could go visit.
     "Yeah, I suppose." She replied. "I'm sure you'll be taking her up on her offer to visit."
     "Absolutely! Indonesia is on my list," I said with a smile as I picked at a blade of grass. "Even better when a local can show me around. So you have no desire whatsoever to go off and see a place you've never been?"
     "Maybe to visit someone, but that's about it. I had an interesting conversation with a friend a while ago. She asked me is if I could chose between a trip to, say....Disneyland or a computer, which would I chose? I picked the computer. Because it's tangible. I can see it, feel it. I can use it. But a trip you can't. Once it's over, it's over." She shrugged her shoulders and took a sip of her Coke. "That's how I see it."
     "Though trips give you experiences." I countered, "And memories." We both paused for a moment. "I guess I shouldn't expect that you'd come visit me at one of my exotic locations then?" I inquired.
     "Just send me a postcard or two." she said with a grin while standing up. "Now let's go see what's going on at the International Stage."

Later that day, as I head home on the Skytrain and gazed out the window to the city below me, I started to think about our previous conversation. Sure materials things are tangible, can be measured for value but aren't experiences valuable as well? Aren't they actually invaluable? For all my travels I have memories tied to them. I have experiences, good and bad, that I have taken something from them. I have strengthened friendships through travels. I have had my breath taken away by travels. I have been scared. I have laughed. I have been brave. I can recall an entire range of emotions that I have had on travels. Something, that I am certain most material, tangible items can not provide me with. Sure, I love my creature comforts. I won't deny it. But when I think of times when I have had to step out of my comfort zone, learn a life lesson or grow closer to someone, it was not a TV, handbag or bedroom suite that did it for me. It was the experience, travel related or not. Experiences become a part of you. They help shape and mold who we become. They become a part of the fabric of our soul. And for me, travelling is one way to gain those experiences. To weave it intricately into my soul. And I love it for that. 

Monday, 21 January 2013

The Appeal of...

There is an assortment of reasons of why people travel where they do; many of them as unique as the individual making their trek. Others much more simple or even ambiguous. Regardless of that which drives a person to travel to their desired destination, it propels them out of their routine to see the world, hopefully, at a more intimate level. So it is that I have my reasons to visit certain countries/cities/destinations as well. Some logical and likely, while others have a more inane basis. 

With that I am going to do a series of posts of what my projected destinations will be for this upcoming trip and why I want to see them. Of course, things may change as time goes on and while on the trip itself. 

Here we go with the first installment (North America)...

The Appeal of:

Thunder Bay, ON, Canada

Truth be told, I will be going to my home town to spend time with my parents. I can not very well go gallivanting around this big blue marble without spending some quality time with my parents beforehand. They would not have it, nor would I. I also get to spend fun time with my friends in Thunder Bay (you know who you are)!

Toronto, ON, Canada

Because I like Toronto (to visit) and I have not been there in ages! Additionally, I have friends and acquaintances in the area. Finally, it is a transportation hub. Be it rail, bus or airplane the connections from Toronto are numerous.

New York, NY, USA

The only time I visited New York I did not enjoy it due to external factors that affected my outlook during the trip. I was  miserable and thought most of the city was too. I would like to re-visit The Big Apple to see if I will be taken in and memorized by its charms. Plus it just may be cheaper to fly to the next destination from New York than Toronto.

There you have it, my three intended stops of the North American leg of my world tour. Next stop: Europe!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Sunday's Special Spot - Java, Indonesia

Today we are going to Indonesia, specifically the island of Java, to see an amazing picture of the Borobudur TempleLocated in central Java, this stunning UNESCO heritage site is believed to have been built in the 9th century incorporating both Buddhist and Hindu influences.


This photo is a detail from the extensive temple and monument that is Borobudur. There are numerous stupas that house statues of various Buddhas. 

I found this photo on Flickr, taken and owned by Jean-Marie Hullot (jmhullot). 

Sunday, 13 January 2013



An eerie name for an long expanse of Atlantic coastline in Namibia, Africa. Called The Skeleton Coast because of remains of both creatures and vessels. In the past it was spotted with whale and seal skeletons, remnants of the old whaling industry. Now you can find old shipwrecks protruding out of the deep sand, a treacherous graveyard of seafaring.

Namibia's Skeleton Skeleton Coast
A region that has little rain, harsh winds and an arid dessert, much of it is part of Skeleton Coast National Park

Photo take from the Travel section of The Telegraph. They own and copyright this photo.

Friday, 11 January 2013

A Flicker?

Last week en route to work I was playing on my phone, as I do, to pass the time on the transit ride. I decided to check out some cheap airfare apps and proceeded to download a number of free ones. Several days later I thought it might be prudent to price out the flight segments of my RTW trip and put the info into a spreadsheet. Then I began thinking that although it could be more expensive to fly from Helsinki, Finland (via Riga, Latvia) to Baku, Azerbaijan instead of the cheaper alternative of Istanbul, Turkey that "Dammit, I want to go to Baku, even if it may be a pricier destination!" 

That was when I had a small yet important epiphany. I was thinking about travel again in a commonsense way. It was so matter-of-fact that I did not initially notice that I was not feeling like I was incapable of making my dream trip a reality. I guess I am coming out of my funk. There is a flicker of travel desire (or more) returning. !!! It surprised me so much that I got rather excited. 

Does that mean I am feeling all warm and fuzzy now? What it does mean is I have turned a corner, so to speak. I still have trepidation about my capacity to make this a reality. I still think that I am less capable than those around me that go after their travel dreams with such apparent ease; wondering why I am not like that. But the truth is, I am not like that. Often, if not the majority of the time, I take my time with big choices or events, unless of course I get a swift kick in the pants by the Universe. Even my choice to go back to school took some time. Although most things fell into place I did my share of thinking and procrastinating about it. 

So, for now, I suppose that I just go with it. Just let these thoughts process and unfold. From this recent bout of melancholy, where I felt (and thought) that I was useless in most areas of my life, was/is actually helpful. Sometimes I just need to feel what I am feeling (and still am). Sometimes it just dissipates - I guess some of that has begun to happen. What caused this? I dunno. Maybe the crazy rush of the holidays being over? That the sun is shining a bit more often here in Van City? That I have decided to plan less and mainly take invitations so that I do not overextend myself? That my little sweet kitten gives me unconditional love and attention? That I am eating tonnes of carbs (except that I am a "big" girl and that depresses me, so maybe not)? Who knows!? The point is that I have noticed this shift in my thinking and I guess that is what matters. So I guess that means I may be posting here a bit more.