I’m Not Dead: Back After A Break

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Hey folks, sorry about the extended absence lately. Between spending time with family, getting buried under a ton of work, and getting settled in a new region in the world (hola from Mexico!), I took a bit of a break from the blog.

Coming soon: A continuation of content from Canada, Korea and Southeast Asia, PLUS new photos from where I’ll be over the next year or so: Mexico, Central and South America.  It’s been a blast being immersed in a new language (Espanol), and exploring new environments, and I can’t wait to share them with all of you!

Photo: A Fine Day At The Floating Mosque, Penang Malaysia

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Penang Malaysia is often a curious blend of the old and the new, with soaring condo developments overshadowing Chinese shophouses, food carts and establishments that crank out time-tested recipes, and ornately designed temples and mosques that testify to the faith of those that live on this lively and industrious island in the tropics.

Of the latter, the mosque with the most inspired architecture on Penang is none other than the Floating Mosque.  Located around the northeast corner of the island, it stretches out into a shallow bay, blending in with the surrounding landscape, yet standing out in its own special way.

Photo: Korea Is A Carnivore’s Dream (Unless You Like Beef)

Pictured above is the aftermath of a typical grocery trip in Korea for yours truly.  Before you start getting concerned about me dropping dead of a heart attack at 35, know that most artery inflammation is mostly the result of over-consumption of simple carbohydrates (sugars + white bread) and trans fats (often created when processed foods are made) with red meat ranking well behind on the danger scale.  Besides, I did buy spinach and onions before this grocery run, with remnants already in the fridge and cupboard, thank you very much :)

Vancouver: A Flagship City For The 21st Century

Coal Harbour "condo village" in Vancouver

If you have not been to Vancouver, it can be hard to place how modern and built up this city truly is.  Everybody has their preconceived notions surrounding Canada as a largely uninhabited wilderness with charming yet somewhat backwater-ish people.  So when you walk through a scene like the one shown above (just steps away from verdant Stanley Park), it can be a surreal experience.

Still not convinced?  Take a look inside the Vancouver I’ve grown to love, a city that is very much a flag bearer for 21st century urban living.

Vancouver art gallery

Photo: Tropical Dream Sequence in Malaysian Borneo

View from islands off Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

While most people travel to Kota Kinabalu only to continue on to climb one of the tallest mountains in Southeast Asia (Mount Kinabalu), lovers of tropical beach paradises take note: there are some idyllic hideaways lying just offshore of this frontier city in Malaysian Borneo.

Head to Jesselton Pier and purchase a ticket to one of the islands that comprise Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, which is a chain of coral islands that lie mere kilometres away from the core of downtown KK.

Attack of the Engrish: South Korea Edition!

Optimized-IMG_0474For those that can’t see through the glare on the can: My fighting time! Let’s be cafe time!

In countries where the first language isn’t English, the populace has often attempted to insert education of the world’s most spoken language into their curriculum, with varying results.  Korea is one of those countries that has pushed hard to get their citizens educated in the use of this often confusing form of communication (2nd hardest in the world to learn after Mandarin Chinese), and for the most part, it has resulted in its economies’ rapid rise.

Canada’s California: Palm Trees And More In Vancouver, BC

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Sitting on Canada’s west coast, the city of Vancouver, which sits at end of a low lying sliver of land in British Columbia’s southwest known as the Lower Mainland, experience considerably warmer weather than the rest of the nation as a whole.

Together with Vancouver Island and the North Coast, they are bubbles of mildness that endure through the vast majority of a harsh Canadian winter, with daytime highs averaging between 5 to 8 degrees Celsius (42 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit) at a time when the rest of Canada is in the deep freeze and buried under mounds of snow.

Photo: Fruit Market in Penang, Malaysia

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When traveling through Southeast Asia, access to food is rarely a concern.  Convenience stores, food carts, and hole-in-the-wall restaurants abound everywhere you go, leading to an unexpected conundrum: instead wondering if you’ll be able to find good food, you’ll be debating just where you’re going to have one of an endless variety of meals to satisfy your hunger.

Another option to add to the list: the fruit market.  The tropics offers a cornucopia of fruits (many of which look exotic and intriguing) to choose from, and even if you’re aren’t jonesing for a snack like I wasn’t at the time I took this photo, it makes for a colourful shot to add to your trip photo album!

Experiencing An Authentic Korean BBQ

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During my time in Korea, one of the things that interested me most was getting acquainted with this nation’s unique cuisine.  Kimchi, Donkastsu, Kimbap … all had their turn in my mouth, with interesting results at minimum.

One thing that I had yet to try at the point in time when the events in this post occurred (June 2013) was Samgyeopsal, or Korean-style grilled pork belly.  I preferred to call it a pet name, Mutant Korean Bacon™, much to the amusement of friends.

Because I Was Bored: My Epic Jasper Ski Trip

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In order to have the time to lay out and execute my plan to teach ESL in South Korea, I determined that I needed to quit my job to give myself the breathing space required to satisfy the myriad of steps to secure a Korean work visa and with it, a job.

However, during the ensuing time between leaving my job and boarding the plane to Korea, there was a lot of lag time spent in Calgary going for daily walk in the suburbs, working on my website, and watching Youtube and the Walking Dead. Yawn.