You’re doing what? (Snap Decision)

Perhaps the most important trait to possess when considering a trip is a bit of craziness. Without it snap decisions can become bogged down by overthinking, mass lists and subject to doubt. My recommendation is to decide to purchase that cheap airfare first then work on the lists, overthinking and doubt. So much easier to eradicate the negative when in possession of a non-refundable ticket!
Which brings me to my most recent travel decision. Although I may sound like s stuck record there is reasoning behind my madness. I am returning to China. What is important to note is that it is impossible to see the country in only a few weeks. However, there are few people who can take a year off to discover just one country. Even when living in China and taking two 4-5 week long trips with my children we barely scratched the surface. A rough average indicates approximately 20-25 weeks of strictly adventure and discovery over the years I lived there and visited after I left. Of course, travelling with children is very different from going it solo. Excluding the days of departure from and to home I will have 54 days.
I came to the decision when Air China had a weekend long fare sale – Vancouver, Canada to Shanghai, China return – for a mind boggling 499.50 CAD! To put that into context, It is rare to find a ticket to Ontario for such a low price. Extremely rare. The deciding factor was no extra checked in baggage fee. I am ecstatic. Even if I hope to have only carry on. No easy feat as I will need clothing, read that as a coat and sweater, for the northern sections I plan to visit plus light clothing for far south.
As I consider my options I must consider, yes again, the National Day holiday, a Golden Week, Sep 30 – Oct 8. I already know how difficult it is to get train tickets and accommodation during that time. Therefore, I am looking at possible heading to Vietnam to do a motorcycle tour (following in the dust of my daughter) from Saigon to Hanoi, or going north to do the Beijing Loop on one of the Trans-Siberian Railway routes. Before, in between and after those trips will be visits to grottoes, villages, temples and at least one former, favourite city of mine and my children. Also where we were the chosen family of my now 15 year old cat.

Cranky Kitty

This is Mozzy. He plays a major factor in my decisions of where, and for how long, to travel. This photo is of him in a wary stance as well as his usual cranky expression that always seems to come through in photos. He is deservedly cranky after a week of daily trips to the vet where he valiantly fought a battle each and every day with the techs and one or two vets. When I took the photo he had been warily watching me whenever I approached the bedroom or came too close to the bed. I did tell him I was not planning to scoop him up to be thrust into the carrier – not until Monday. 

Meanwhile, I am rejigging plans for travel. New York might be off, not so much the money side of things. The daughter I am taking with me is beginning a new nursing position that will include lots of extra training on new equipment. She already has clinic experience, but this will be teaching individuals how to use equipment at home. So, we will most likely put things on hold. 

Which is fine. There is a major seat sale, ends Sunday, from Vancouver to Shanghai through Air China. At this fare I could probably add in Thailand and Cambodia. I am vying for a two week ecotour 60th birthday present that includes working with elephants and children – not at the same time! These decisions bring me back to my cranky kitty, he might be even crankier. 

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/cranky/”>Cranky</a&gt;

Overcoming the Impossible Dream

 

At times practicality seems to overtake dreams. Rather than fall prey to quashed plans it becomes important to consider how to go around, under or over what appears to be an insurmountable problem. Of course we all have our own buttons that, once pushed, provoke us into action we may, or may not take. Mine include family, kitty and money. As previously posted I also have health on my list. Take a heavy dose from the opening lyrics of the 1944 song, “You’ve got to accentuate the positive, Eliminate the negative” and, in my opinion, you are well on your way to fulfilling dreams, often on a far more interesting road.

Why am I thinking such thoughts now? It all comes down to family. I have four daughters, two sons-in law, one grandson. Oh, and one cat, but he has his own category. Visiting the cold of Ontario once a year for a month has served well for visiting 5/7 of my family in one fell swoop. I share a household with another. Also with the cat. That leaves my youngest, she is 25. For some reason she tests my patience to the maximum. Perhaps it is that unquenchable urge to know the unknown. She is also a backpacker; she has been on the road since March 2016, with about an eight week break when she came home after falling quite ill with bronchial pneumonia. It was also an opportunity for her to give up her apartment, find homes for her pets and pack up all her worldly possessions before hitting the road again.

Fellow travellers, of course I worry about her being on her own in places she is unfamiliar with. Her sisters worry about me when I am away. That is how family works, or should. We do so because we care and are there for emergencies. Except my youngest resents it until she needs something – usually money. Hers, not mine. So, I have a question, particularly for the young travellers out there, would you prefer to rarely be in touch with family or do you, and family, appreciate daily or weekly check ins, usually more along the nature of something exciting/interesting/frustrating that happened during the day?

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I usually send a line or two, privately and publicly, to someone in my family – they are free to pass things along. I guess that is a third option. There are reasons for this, safety being primary of course. If a general itinerary, arrival dates, travel mode, with whom is provided – then you suddenly fall off the grid – someone will know when to start searching for you. After all, things can go wrong. Going solo can mean there is not anyone physically nearby to know if you are in distress – even temporarily, or for the most trivial reason. Someone at home could mean maintaining your sanity, or preventing an international disaster. Or, at least a cultural faux pas. It is a way to keep on top of how everyone is, a few lines quickly sent off can often say much more than a carefully crafted, edited letter. So, for those of us out there, remember the people who are not with you, (I fit into both categories) drop a line, because we can travel with you from afar, and we care. Hell, we love you.

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Then there is my cat. He came back with us from China, approaching fifteen years old. The family joke is that I left behind one daughter but brought back the cat. As things have turned out it is that daughter who makes it possible to leave the cat behind. I know he will be well cared for. The issue is that he is getting older. Aside from his quirkiness he has two chronic health issues. Yes, I worry about him as much as I do my daughter who is in….hm, Taiwan. (When I first started writing this she was still in Australia). For anyone wanting to travel but has a pet, consider who will care for him/her: ongoing healthcare, routines, food, and what to do in an emergency. Unless you have pet insurance, with a list of what is covered and not covered, even one urinary tract infection can break the bank for many. As a pet ages so to do the problems. Be prepared to allow final decisions to be made by the person you have entrusted your pet to.

My backpacker daughter had left left two cats and one dog in the care of a friend who moved into the apartment so as to maintain as much familiarity as possible. What had not been dealt was medical issues. It was only through luck that I happened to have temporarily gone home from my travels when a frantic message came saying the elderly cat was very ill. One look at her, the cat that is, told me it was unlikely she would live beyond that day. However, consultation on messenger of all things, (daughter in Thailand) meant taking her to the animal hospital to at least make her comfortable. I pulled no punches, the veterinarian was s little kinder providing options.

I had to make the decision to not prolong her possible suffering. Of course we were all upset. The thing is to ensure there is someone who can make such decisions, preferably after letting you know, but if not possible it is like an executive decision – only made as the best option. I had already ensured that when I am away my daughter at home has final say on the best course of action for my kitty if one must be made. He is, after all, approaching elder cat stage and prolonging life just for me to say goodbye would be cruel.

The final consideration when travelling is money. Which includes the care of a well loved pet. In addition, what about a home base, personal belongings, a job? What can, or should, be given up? Basically, the comfort zone lies in just how willing anyone travelling can let go of. Or make changes to meet dreams and plans. My view is that if anyone plans to go for it and travel for upwards of a year or more, and do not own property, drop the apartment, store everything, and pack your bag lightly. If you own your own place you should be able to figure out how to make that work for you!

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Is your job just paycheque to paycheque, do you absolutely love it or can you walk away without any qualms? Perhaps you are near retirement or have managed to set aside a sum towards travel. It is amazing how a little can stretch far with ingenuity. I assume travel is the goal if you are reading this. I promote exploration, in your own country or abroad. My one caveat is to have an emergency fund and/or travel insurance and someone ‘at home’ to contact ‘just in case’. Do not fear adventure, rather grasp it, wrestle with it, love it – then leave it for new ones. Happy travelling!

First full day in Kingston

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Too often we tend to forget that when visiting family or friends during a holiday it is also a chance for a different kind of vacation or, in my case, another opportunity to be a traveller and learn more about the place I am at. I started my day by venturing out.

Yes, the sidewalks are icy and the temperature was -7c when I headed out. We are expected to be feeling below 0 in double digits! Oh, the weather out there is frightful… I am happy to say that although it was cold I kept pretty snug, so glad I dragged along my snow boots! First on my list of getting reacquainted with downtown Kingston was to find breakfast. There are more restaurants in the city, for its size, than anywhere else in Canada. (I believe I gave that statistic last year) Lower Princess Street, finally having Phase 3 of reconstruction completed summer 2016 – budget was 13 million.

It was dreadful to navigate last winter. Too bad the sidewalks are still not treated for well enough for safe walking, particularly the corners where there are little crossing signal posts, surround by ice and snow, just out of reach of pedestrians already slip sliding along.

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I am pleased to have made my way to a coffeehouse that opened last winter and is still running strong (pun intended). Students seem to be the niche Crave has carved for itself, lots of seating, at least one shared table, plug ins for the inevitable computers, tables sturdy enough for textbooks, decent prices, and of course lots of choices of coffee and far too many of food, particularly of the baked variety.

 

I had planned to be very good after too much bread on my day of travel, but the pastries, muffins, all sorts of cinnamon buns, croissants (in a category of their own in my opinion) and bagels, which I first turned away from, drew me in again when I glimpsed the board. So I had a breakfast sandwich – whole wheat bagel with an egg, bacon and cheddar cheese. Plus an Americano.

I love university students, especially during exam time, there is such earnestness and determination in the air, along with the tip tapping of keyboards, flipping of pages, scratching of pens or pencils (still in use, usually on index cards). I might have been the only person there not using some form of electronic device.

Good coffeehouses are fantastic for people watching, and I was only near the front of the place – it is such a favourite I was lucky to have found a seat at all. I stayed for an hour or more, reading, listening and watching before grabbing a muffin and coffee, and my uneaten yogurt, for my daughter. This is where travelling and visiting so nicely meet.

I then sought out a little art studio I had found the year before, Martello Alley, where I had found two prints of places I had been to while in Kingston. I wanted a third one, and was very happy to discover they are still in business selling the work of local artists.

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I did find another print, same artist, of the bakery my SIL works at. Although I have not actually been inside the bakery/deli, I have been the delighted recipient of their delicious baked goods. I thought that would be a perfect addition for my collection.

My walk back to the house was a little perilous, I finally walked part of the way on the road, they are clear, the sidewalks are not. I even have a kitty I can cuddle with, he is new to the family, an adorable 7 month old grey with a bushy tail. He discovered snowflakes and was trying to catch them as they fell – the window kept deceiving him. An excellent way to view winter, from inside!

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