(journal excerpt)-December 15, 2011

Fallen a bit behind on my writing as its been a bit difficult to articulate all that’s been going on lately.  Here’s the most basic but verbose of rundowns:

-left KL after it nearly driving me mental-had 2 very “un-zen” moments with a dude on a train telling me not to push.  (I was getting pushed out the train and pushed him) and another at a mother who let her son drive his younger siblings stroller into my bare heel, removing the skin.  Not good.  I vowed to be done with KL for a while now to only be probably going back (more on this below…)

-moved on to Cherating-our planned destination to learn surfing.  It is low season here for tourism but peak season for surf on account of it being the monsoon season.  To say that things are laid back is a massive understatement.  They’re near comatose.  Stores and restaurants often don’t open till 4pm making figuring out your meals more of a task than an adventure.  The village consists of basically one road that runs parallel to the beach and chalets and resorts are set up on either side.  There is a Club Med somewhere around here, apparently the 1st in Southeast Asia but I have never seen it.

The “nightlife” seems to consist of the karaoke place next door which goes on long after I fall asleep.  Popular hits include: “Livin’ on a Prayer”, that Adele song which I’ve come to hate and “Eye of the Tiger”.  Alcohol is scarce here and when you do find it is about the same price as back home.  But that is Malaysia as a whole.

-The place on Day 4 is actually growing on me somewhat.  I realize yes, I was bitching two seconds ago about the chaos in the city and now about the sleepiness of the village.  I never said I made sense but I think it just took a few days to mellow me out after KL got me a bit wound up.  It is actually quite pleasant here when you realize that all those things that are getting you pissed off, don’t really matter.  (Store not open, batik place you were going to take a class as not open, 800 screaming children playing video games in the internet cafe, etc).  The place is not without its charm.  Here are some highlights:

-food-crazy cheap still

-teeny, tiny frogs the size of a dime, everywhere

-spotting a Malaysian Hornbill in the palm tree next door

-friendly locals

-first surf lesson tomorrow (currently cacking myself in trepidation but determined to conquer my fear of big waves-and these are babies!

-beautiful beach, fireflies, palm trees, frangipani, papaya and mango trees

But gentle reader, there is another element at play here and the underlying cause of our stress as of late.  You see, as much as we don’t want to be thinking of it, you know, live for today, fly by the seat of our plants, go free etc., there is always the niggling notion in the back of our minds that this too, will end.  Yes, hopefully not till 2012, we’re aiming for March or April, money dependent but there is still an end in sight.  This has made the tone of this trip a bit more dramatic than the last time we travelled.  The last time, we had lived abroad for nearly 3 years and we knew that eventually we’d be heading back to our own country.  Now, this time, we don’t know *where* we are going afterwards.

We had sort of been learning towards going back to Japan, but now post-tsunami, mid-radiation fears, we’re not so sure.  We loved many aspects of Seoul when we were there, but can we withstand the pollution and between the two, which will be better for us? Going to Japan is familiar and going to Seoul means having to get our marriage certificate from Japan, translated into Korean and notorized (visa stuff, long story). 

But then there are also familial “obligations” that call us back home.  M’s parents have out right said upon being asked that while they know they can’t stop us from living in Japan, they’d prefer we didn’t.  In fact they’ve said they prefer we live there and help them with their business as they feel they are getting too old to do so for much longer but they would hate to sell it to someone they didn’t know.  It’s a complicated dilemma.  M’s parents, nearly ten years older than my mother, are aging and while they get around fine, still travel, keep very busy and show no signs of slowing down, I do think they, particularly M’s Dad contemplate his mortality a bit more often after his heart attack last year.  He also hates to see us to more work for less money. It’s a surprisingly lucrative business in their small town and has financed this whole trip we’re currently on, so there is that. 

But we don’t particularly want to live in Canada for reasons too long to go into here but Canada’s conservative majority and their pulling out the Kyoto Protocol didn’t help! We love the live abroad life but aren’t particularly passionate about the work (teaching English).  M is a writer first and foremost but his freelancing doesn’t afford him the luxury of not teaching or at least working part-time.  And the family business, while it allows us to be our own bosses and have a lot of free time is also doing a job that we aren’t passionate about and living with your parents in a small town.  We want to be with our family and friends just as much as they want to be with us and we realize there is a level of selfishness to living abroad.  But is that feeling so strong that it should outweigh our spirit for adventure and living the life we prefer abroad? Living close to home doesn’t stop people from dying but is that the point?

So these are the issues we’ve been facing at the moment.  They ebb and flux depending on outside stressors and usually one of us has a meltdown once a month or so.  The other night was M’s turn-berating himself because he should be in bliss, travelling and doing what he wants, but hating that he, as of yet, can’t fully write for a living and this frustrates him to no end (despite the fact that he is currently our “breadwinner” with his writing, making the only money we are actually making at the moment.

Are we getting too old to start over?  My logic tells me no, that what we are doing *is* in fact living and that all we have is this moment and no career, mortgage or anything else will change that, or make us immortal or more stable or more happy.  We fought to live this lifestyle because it’s what we want but sometimes one does have to prepare for what comes next and that’s been hard.  As I said, it’s added a new weight to this trip that we are both trying to come to terms with.  I’m working on going with the flow more, while also shooting out C.V’s to various countries.  (PS-hire me for your brilliant job in your brilliant locale for March/April 2012!)

Another stress has been the holiday season believe it or not.  While Xmas has never really been a big thing for me, it’s a big thing in M’s home and it’s big to him and that is valid.  Not the shopping and presents and all that, but just that feeling of homey-ness, the big meal and the music and tree and whatnot.  So he wants to be in a city for Xmas and to go out for a proper meal.  Our plan was to head from here to Singapore but all the budget options are booked out for the holidays.  (That’s a little bit TOO much of the ol’ fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants by the way!) New Year’s-same deal and SG is crazy expensive for Southeast Asia so without hostel options it becomes undoable until after the holiday season.  So for now we have a booking back in KL for Xmas (rather a series of bookings because they’re all booked up too, so we are changing rooms nearly every day).  We’re currently thinking of flying to Bali from there.  But who knows! We’re flying by the seat of our pants! Stay tuned and apologies for the drama.  Kudos to you if you got this far.  I sound like such an entitled whiny drama queen.  Like seriously, these are my biggest problems? I can’t even read this it’s so self masturbatory and lame.  We are actually having a good time despite all this, it’s just not as “carefree” as some of the people we know seem to assume. 

But we are okay.  And we will always be okay no matter where we live because it’s not about where you live, is it? We already have the answer, it just gets cloudy sometimes.



PS-Still no photos guys-sorry.  I have to figure out how to compress them in order to upload them quicker on these slow connections.  It took me an hour and a half to upload 20 photos to flickr last time which is just crazy.  But I am taking them! And they will get up there eventually.  Thanks.



One thought on “Cherating…

  1. Today is Christmas here so I can relate to M.’s attachment to the comfort-ness family gives. It sounds like you have huge insight around the ‘geography isn’t really where you are at’ thing-it’s how you’re living life. And while us parents may rather have yous on this side of the pond; I’ll bet if ‘we’ left to travel you’d endorse that!

    There’s song lyrics that go “Soul City (Seoul City?) that’s where we’re headed and we won’t be back ’till the moneys’ all gone”

    A Very Merry Christmas from this side of the dateline

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