300 Days…300 blog posts?!?

Hopefully this didn’t scare you too much to run away and not read my blog!

All jokes aside, this is the place you can look to to find my summaries and perspectives as I journey to different parts of Korea starting this September? Why am I going? Well to become cultured, historied, learned of language and completed of degree in science…the real fun begins with masters after this, haha…*cough*

Not sure how much of that made sense up there but I am off to an International Exchange (UofT has great opportunities for you too! Check out the CIE)!

Ideally I will post here every 2-3 days, as well as for super-special occasions (at my discretion I hope) and definitely atleast once a week – expect some pictures that I hope will give you a window into what I see, do and learn as the year (10 months) progresses.

To all I am departing, fear not! I will remain in touch – find my email and skype info on my facebook (sorry creepers, that info is only for dear friends!) as well as eventually my phone should I get a cellphone (yes it is possible for me to finally get one, please pick that jaw off the floor). It certainly is a balance of emotions between my excitement, nervousness, sadness (at leaving) and perhaps some anticipation – but it will be a win-win!

Why? I will learn to handle a world without the backbone of awesomeness that is my local network, and all you will get to live that “wonderful life” seeing dramatic changes as one person leaves (if there is any real change, I take this sarcasm back). I hope this prepares me for the next phase in my education, opens up new opportunities for me, especially in learning about international environmental innovations, initiatives and practices. Most importantly, I think this will give me a few doses of reality versus our North American reality…what that will be remains to be seen. The obvious big one lastly is it will make me appreciate all of you EVEN more!

I will keep on open mind, open lens and open heart, where my education may take me is an adventure I am ready to start!

Stay tuned, all of you (friends/family) keep me posted on your happenings too please!

See you soon <3

(Did I mention I get to travel into the future while on my plane…AWESOME!)

Days 12 to 16 – Out and about in Halifax + jours de bonus à Montréal!

As my journey goes into its 2nd week and beyond, I now find myself again in Halifax, the largest city in the Maritimes with a whole lot to see and do. Something I haven’t mentioned much here is how much of this trips time has actually been spent getting from place to place. By now I have probably used every form of transport possible – except plane (that includes bike and taxi!)! A good example of most of my day in travel was on the way to Moncton – 17 hours by bus since our VIA train was full (I have learned to make reservations now!) or the ferry from North Sydney to Argentia – 17 hours plus a scenic 3 hour drive to St.John’s. Overall the journey has been enjoyable but I have definitely anticipated the destination much more with each stop! :]

Here in Halifax I am staying in an exceptionally clean and friendly hostel which is part of the network known as Hosteling International – a great resource if you are looking for budget accommodations and people to explore and share stories with (as is Backpackers International and Airbnb!). I am surprised to find that nearly every tourist I meet in hostels or bnb’s is European (while most tourists I see in Museums and attractions is Asian!) – especially German. I guess they all have one love in common – love for travel, water and seafood!

So for Halifax this 3 day stay was rather wet…as in soaking, screaming-down-the-streets, lightning-on-your-tail-wet! I had a blast though because it was unexpected and refreshing…I certainly hoped Toronto got some of this rain and cool weather too! Because of the weather, most of this stay involved the indoor sights and sounds, so I grabbed a map, 5 friends I made at the hostel, and we explored the tastes and places to see in Halifax.

Though I may have felt more like a typical “tourist” exploring the museums, parks and National Historic sites of the city, they really taught me alot about Maritime history and culture. Far beyond my thoughts of just a region hurt by Cod collapse the Maritimes – especially places like Halifax – have repeatedly struggled and fought for their freedom, cities (or forts, depending on the time), citizenship, industrial and technological power and as many of us know, for their livelihoods and culture. I felt humbled by all the knowledge in the museums…indeed I would see so many people snapping pictures and running by photos without a second glance at the actual written information, even my hostel buddies! It seems tourism really does have traits of its own versus those who are there to drink the information slowly, or perhaps searching for answers…


I certainly took my share of pictures, but I can say too that I have taken an imprint of Maritime past, a perspective you can’t get anywhere else! The best part has probably been applying what I see in the Museums to the reality of Halifax and the surrounding area around me…Such as learning about the Halifax explosion – you can see the crater shape of the harbour where it occurred! Or the stories of immigrants at Pier 21 – all you need to do is walk down a bus street. Then there were the naval ships and wartime history, local fishermen and the balance of resources, tourism and culture…the list goes on.

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…ofcourse the trip could not be complete without some incredible views and reflection at the citadel – I am so grateful the rain held this last morning!

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The trip continued to its closing as I finally got to enjoy a top-notch VIA rail trip back to Montreal, thank you express deals for the slice of luxury!

And the views…

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It seems since my train ride back the streak of good luck (with the exception of finding a place to stay!) continues! Once I finally hauled my bags into an affordable hotel in Montreal it was time to explore the city, this time with bearable heat! A huge bonus for me was the accompaniment of a good friend and fellow M-scholar Tingjia who took me out for great food, EPIC laughs and intriguing entertainment – thanks so much!!!

No conclusion of Montreal is complete without a short photo-jaunt of their stunning art and architecture…from the buildings to the Olympic Park and beyond, I was speechless.

Time to bus home now, thank you to everyone who has made this trip so memorable and especially to those who toured with me or let me stay with them for some time! I am taking back with me a mountain of photos, a huge stash of environmental and urban planning project ideas/applications and the love of Maritime culture, the art, the places and the whales! Most of all I will never forget the kindness of each and every citizen wherever I went, you all have an Eastern soul – resourceful, kind, slightly windswept and maybe a tad salty – I promise to come back soon (with a bike!) ;]

Days 8 to 11 – Exploring Canada’s wild east, Newfoundland!

It’s been an incredibly fast-paced journey so far since time really does seem to catch up with us as we travel for ever-longer stretches of time. I can now say I am fully adapted to any bus ride anywhere after what we have experienced! :]

Speaking of journeys, who would have thought we would travel in so many ways? Today after a lengthy coach ride I bid farewell to Deyana who took VIA rail (1st class thanks to an express deal) back to Toronto via Montreal from Halifax. Now it was time for me to head to Newfoundland…6 hours by shuttle car and 17 hours by ferry later…I made it.

Now, as horrible as that travel sounds, the ferry was more like a luxury cruise ship!

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Newfoundland (mainly St.John’s) was to be one of the most surprising portions of my trip since I was now alone (gasp) and essentially at the whim and epic ideas of Meaghan and her equally awesome Aylward family (though I have yet to see the siblings!). Not only did she let me stay with the family but probably wrapped me in more culture and happiness than any of us anticipated (even she was shocked!).

The days were made of some pretty amazing scenes:

Haunted tours…

Not so haunted (new word alert) whalish tours…

A bird extravaganza…

The Cape corner of the world…

And truly beyond me, Meaghan or her friend Meaghan (yes thats right), an enormous pod of near-shore, breaching and totally awesome whales off the coast! (RARE ALERT!!! Have your puffin, er – puffer ready!)

Best for last – Nessie (its real!)

Thank you Meaghan and all the Aylwards for amazing memories, Newfoundland was by far overall the best experience I had – the food so fresh and fine, everyone so kind, the whale-watching sublime! I will be back for more asap! I need copies of all your songs Meaghan! :D

And the real best for last, the incredible voice of Meaghan and her choir, it really was something special and wonderful (this picture is actually worth 2000 words!)…

Days 5 to 7 – A vivid island, deep history and a masterpiece!

Our adventure continues in what is known as “The Gentle Island”…Prince Edward Island.

Despite its small size, small economy, small population and small political influence, this province has won me over in a big way. Me and Deyana enjoyed a thorough exploration of P.E.I on day 5. Having enjoyed a beach and lighthouses, eco-awesome technology and all things Confederation Bridge at Cape Jourimaine, we moved on to taking in the unexpected architecture and lush landscaping in Charlottetown.

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The people on the roads here are incredibly courteous, along with the fact that there are so many huge squares and plazas (and even roads) that are just for pedestrians…fantastic. The next day began with a surprise performance as usual, a dramatic and colourful display by the local theatre group telling us a story of the local First Nations (take a guess!) with drama, storytelling and dance. It brought a big smile to everyone’s face, especially considering only donations were taken and all of it went to support the theatre/arts centre.

Before we moved on to our main destination, the mystical P.E.I National Park, a few “interesting” things happened…I bought an awesome t-shirt and my first flip flops, hooray to bad foot posture! But no really, the main thing that happened was something apparently only me (and later Deyana) saw in the entire city.

There it was, up in the sunny sky, a small patch of dark clouds and…within it…it came…

A funnel cloud. Also known as a pre-tornado…in Atlantic Canada!?!

Though I ran to try and catch a full shot of it (it nearly reached the ground and spun treacherously) it quickly came and went (less than a 3 minutes) and all I could record was this. There was no commotion and I am still in awe…not sure what else to say, it’s the first ever seen for me and a check off my bucket list~

Moving on, the day was overall fantastic as we kayaked through the varied coast (rocky, cliffs, forests, marsh and beach) and explored the seemingly harmonious balance between humans and nature. It was perfect, more-so by the tour of “things-I-would-have-missed” given to us by our wonderful BNB hosts as they drove us back down to Charlottetown, here’s a glimpse of the cool:


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Day 6 was all about Halifax as we entered Nova Scotia for the first time (I will return back after going to Newfoundland!)…well that and an extremely long bus ride (but this time we actually caught the bus! Score!). The day was made up of exploring the outer grounds of the Halifax Citadel as well as the totally complete-and-not-under-construction-or-dingy-in-any-way-and-super-attractive-boardwalk/waterfront…something I think every city in Canada should be very jealous of!

The day hit a satisfying conclusion after looking through the Halifax public gardens and commons…we were pretty much speechless after seeing the quality of the spaces, landscaping and delicious ice cream! I can’t believe this city has such deep history, architecture, greenery and a waterfront! All with the comforts of a modern city respecting its past…

I wonder if I should move here?

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The final day for my amazing friend Deyana concluded with a short hike past the citadel to explore the rather anti-climatic Halifax Museum if Natural History. I guess watching Night at the Museum stretched my expectations rather significantly…it was still some great exhibits, just not as much as I expected. A short trip and confirmation later, Deyana hopped onto her luxury VIA Rail cabin (express deals rock!) and I prepared for bus-off to Newfoundland, see you next post!