I would like to say I had trouble sleeping last night, but I didn't. The trip through Asia has been incredible; I have seen so many places, met so many inspirational people, learned so much, and tried so many new things, but my heart missed my friends and family back home.
People say Canadians are friendly, but that's true about Japanese and Hong Kong people as well. Everywhere I went, from Osaka (where a man helped me find my hotel in the rain by showing me his iPhone) to Kyoto(where a stranger gave me a ride to Nintendo HQ) to all the many people in Hong Kong who helped me find my way through the dizzying streets, the people were kind and friendly, and never let language boundaries get in their way.
Sitting on the plane, being just below Alaska and heading to Vancouver, I can't help but think about all the different things I did. There are so many things I forgot to mention! There's so many things I will forget, but also so many things I already forgot. I wonder where all my travel mates are now. I wonder what they're doing, what they're thinking. I wonder what Steve and Alison are doing. I wonder what our tour guide is doing. I wonder what my family is doing...
I woke up early today, at 4 AM. I showered, cleaned up, and left. Skipping breakfast, I was out the door by 5. While I was getting my stuff all together I looked over and saw the umbrella I bought in Hiroshima. I thought about taking it with me, but then I remembered how awkward it was taking it through customs in Tokyo the first time, so I left it in my room propped against the wall. I wonder whatever happened to it.
I got down to the lobby and hopped into a taxi waiting outside. I arrived at Kowloon Station, paid my way and got on the train. It was just just after 6:30 so it was just me and two other people.
I arrived at the airport, got through security and eventually got onto my plane to Tokyo. I was flying with ANA, and each time I flew with them I've been impressed. The flight to Tokyo is only a couple of hours, but the seats are huge, and staff are very friendly and the food is wonderful. It was a huge difference from taking Air Canada, where a window seat means you end up having a stiff neck by the end of your flight.
Switching planes was also a breeze. The only downside to this flight was that my headphone-jack on my seat didn't work. I was told before I left that if something doesn't work on a Japanese flight, you can complain and get free flights for a year. I don't know if it's true or not, but I really had no reason to fly back to Asia anytime in the future, so I didn't report the broken jack.
32 minutes after I left Tokyo, I arrived in Regina. You read that right. Due to the time change, I had arrived just about the same time I left Tokyo. My family was waiting for me, and it was so great to see them again. I was glad I was able to talk to them via Skype throughout my trip so it wasn't complete silence for two weeks like when I went to Europe. I had so many gifts, and so many different foods, and so many papers and knick knacks and souvenirs to show them! I had so many stories! But none of these things can show or explain what Japan and Hong Kong were like. The breathtaking view of the Peak from Hong Kong, the powerful shadow of the A-Bomb Dome in Hiroshima, the elegance of Kyoto's temples, the massiveness of Tokyo's Municipal building, even the canals surrounding Osaka Castle are indescribable. Pictures cannot capture them, words can't describe them, stories cannot explain them. The only way to see the world, I suppose, is to see it.
And so, my trip through Asia ends. Where I'll go next, I don't know. I have some wild ideas, like Chernobyl or Antarctica or Peru or Cuba... but for now, those are only ideas.
But until then, goodbye. And thank you for joining me on my Asian Adventure!
And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.
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If you're visiting Alberta this summer, you probably have your heart set on visiting the mountains. After all, places like Lake Louise, Banff, Waterton and now Castle Provincial Park are some of the most beautiful sites in Canada, and they're always a hit on Instagram (if you're into that kind of thing). But, between Regina and the mountains is a whole province with plenty of sights to explore.
Last year I took more trips than I could count to southern Alberta, but most of them ended near Medicine Hat. Had I gone a bit further, I would have found myself in a myriad of attractions to see, from historical museums to sites of natural disasters and just about everything in-between.
For those looking to make a few stops on their way to the Rocky Mountains, or for those who are just looking for an Alberta road trip, here are six attractions you must visit while in southern Alberta.
Last week Ford Canada flew my sister Krystal and I out to Prince Edward Island to take part in their Cross-Canada #FordEcoSport Tour. We were only the fifth of fifteen groups that will take part in the tour, so be sure to follow the hashtag to see what everybody is getting up to as well.
Our section of the tour was probably one of the longest in the program, as we had to drive from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island to Saint John, New Brunswick, then to Rivière-du-Loup, Quebec and ending in Quebec City. The whole distance is about 1,020 kilometres, which is about 10 hours of driving, assuming we didn't stop to see anything along the way.
The Island of the Dolls is in Xochimilco, a borough south of Mexico City. While it would be faster to take a car from Mexico City to Xochimilco, the traffic is dense and the roads are very congested. Instead, if you're going there, I'd recommend taking metro, which is easy and the cheapest in the world. What you gain in comfort, however, you lose in speed, as the train ride takes about 2 hours.
Mexico City and Xochimilco both sit in the Valley of Mexico. Until about a millennium ago, the whole region around Mexico City was surrounded by a massive body of water. Over the centuries due to both climate change and interference by humans, most of this water has dried up, for the exception of Xochimilco. With networks of canals crisscrossing the borough, car transportation is difficult and water transportation is essential. I'm sure there were motorized boats somewhere in the waters of Xochimilco, but I never saw any. Instead, canoes and rafts are common on the water. However, the most popular vessel is a trajinera – a colourful gonadal-like boat that is pushed along the water with a wooden pole.
Xochimilco is known worldwide for their Floating Gardens market, which are essentially canoes floating down the canals, selling wares to tourists on trajineras. These include things like food, drinks, silver rings, trinkets, ponchos and sombreros. Occasionally other trajineras full of Mariachi bands will approach tourists and offer to play beside them on the water.