Its been almost a week since my classmates and I made the big venture back from Southeast Asia. I've been finding it hard to digest the fact that time has surpassed me extremely fast.... Leaving for Australia in May, a random trip to Bali and then coming back to Canada for three weeks only to leave again. Spending two months in three very different Southeast Asian countries: Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. There is always so much planning involved, saving and the build up of excitement only for it to be over in what now seems like one quick flash. A kaleidoscope of colors that represents everything I did, everything I saw, touched,and tasted. Every memory that imprinted on my heart. It was though I experienced something in a short six months that some people may never experience in a life time-- literally circling the globe TWICE in six months. I feel blessed to have traveled so much in a short time. Already, I am thinking about where to venture next. A place where I can discover and learn more. But... for the time being I am home writing papers. 

Yet, even this is educational. Having to further my research on topics that we received lectures on in Southeast Asia. My brain is like a a bowl of mud cake with hidden gummie worms-- there is a lot of mumble jumble up there but so much information and facts to be found. It helps when I can talk about my trip because I can realize how much I learned, how much my mind and worldly knowledge expanded. I can see how much I grew. I don't know if I changed, its seems as though I always stay the same well, the essence of who I am does not change-- what makes me me and I am thankful for that because I like who I am becoming. However, this trip opened a window that allowed me to see all the possibilities that life holds available. It showed me everything I am passionate about in bright vivid colors and I realized that this is what I've been growing towards. This is why the external things in which I thought I loved and who I was have changed. The window gave me affirmation on who I am becoming and I am excited. I know that any thing can change in a blink of an eye and that it is not always good to have a plan but, I have a five year plan (which can be modified at any time). This plan is what gives me something to work towards, it brings me life. I know there is a large possibility that I will find myself back in Southeast Asia again, specially because of the work I plan to do. 

As much as it is great to be home and spend time with my family and friends it is also hard. I know this is not where I want to make my home. However, I must continue to remind myself that it is only for a short period of time and as I have learned time goes by much to quickly. Therefore, I will try and enjoy the time I have and cherish each precious moment that is given to me. Is that not what life is? A million microscopic gifts given to you in a million single moments. A million thank yous to be said and a million blessings to hold onto. It was something I saw in all the different people no matter what they believed-- how delicate life was and how important it was to count your blessings. Remembering to be thankful when kneeling in front of a Buddha statue throughout the Buddhist temples of Thailand. When the man sang his prayer into loud speaker from the Mosques tower in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia five times a day. Or when the Filipino people gathered at church on Sunday mornings to worship through song. No matter who we are, we were all  created as human beings-- with a heart, a soul, a mind and the power to belief. The universal humanity is absolutely magnificent, it is simply beautiful. 

Love and shower of blessings -Nikki xox



 
 
As I sit here at 6:30am in the morning (Sunday) eating my big bowl of different kinds of cereal (four to be precise) I can not help but think about the last couple of months. Just to be able to wake up and eat whatever I want for breakfast even though I know my stomach is going to hate me later for it-- I should not eat milk or cheese and stay away from wheat as much as possible (something I learned on the trip). In fact it is nice to know what you are eating... haha I joke not. 
I did not sleep the whole way home-- possibly for a maximum of 30 minutes therefore, I went over 30hrs without any. Luckily I was able to sleep a little bit at my mates place Friday night in Toronto and then I slept for about 15 hours last night starting at 6pm... it was good. When I arrived at the airport yesterday Mum, Dad and Lexie were there waiting for me-- I was sooooooo STOKED to see Lexie. I have been so excited to see those babies. Adam and Charley were at the house-- man Charley has grown, almost 9 months old! Seeing them made my day. For dinner mum had her home-made lasagne with Caesar salad and baget-- it was soo yummy!!! Its amazing how all these little things can bring you so much comfort. This is something I have learned about travelling and living in other countries... without even realizing it there are things you might do to bring your comfort, something that may make you feel more at home-- it shows you how much our culture is engrained in each of us. For example: I found great comfort and being able to practice yoga, especialy being able to go to classes in Thailand. Being able to go for a run, cooking for may family-- it was something familiar to me, it made me feel more at home-- it brought me happiness. I think we all do this-- why else is there a China Town in the middle of a city in a country besides China, or a little India? Because we all bring a little bit of our culture with us where ever we go... a very large part of our identity. 
Now I find myself drinking a cup of tea from Thailand... last night I ate my dinner with a spoon and fork-- now that I am home I am finding comfort in things that were so unknown to me before... isn't that funny? I guess this is all part of experiencing culture shock or culture differences. It was very hard for me not to "Wy" as well to every single person I spoke too hahaha. Now people would think I am really strange if I did that. Anyway's, its bloody cold I will tell you that much, minus 3 degrees or something... how have I ever survived living in this country!?!? However, I will admit that I absolutely love crawling into bed and getting cosy with all my blankets and teddy bear hehehe. 
Well I will write more again soon... as I sit here and reflect on the last 2 months. Enjoy this beautiful Sunday!! -Nikki xo
 
 
Well here I am... sitting in the Hong Kong airport. The Thailand program ended officially at 2:30pm on Thursday after a morning of visiting the Grand Palace, the Reclining Buddha and the National History Museum. The rest of the day was spent relaxing, packing, going for dinner with Crys and then bed. We woke up at 3:30am and were on our way to the airport for 4:30am... its been a long morning and its going to be a looooooog day. The group has split now because some of the student are flying to Vancouver, two to Taiwan for a few days and the rest of us to Toronto-- we are all looking forward to going home. Its been an exhausting trip of lectures, museums, sightseeing, home stays and a mix of many cultures-- oh and of course each other!!! Hahaha. However, there is a small part of me that is sad... but I am glad to be going home because I have lots of school work to do and I have the winter semester to look forward to in January. Priorities. If I did not have them I would not be going home. LOL.
It was a fairly big week. I did not go to the market Sunday evening I went to bed instead. Monday we were up early as we got on the bus to make our way down to Bangkok. We first stopped in Sukhothait to visit Sri Satchanalia (ancient city) and the cloth museum-- we stayed overnight here and on Tuesday heading to Ayuthaya where we visited another ancient city and the Historical Study Centre. We spent the night here and on Wednesday heading finally to Bangkok. We visited the Bang Pa-In Summer Palace and Wat Niwet arrived in Bangkok after lunch and went on a Canal tour of the Royal Barges & Temple of the Dawn. For dinner we went to this place where you made your own BBQ. Crys and I found a local pub afterwards and enjoyed  beer with some free wi-fi. Thursday was as I mentioned above and now present. Hong Kong airport-- surrounded by people on their laptops, notebooks, phones, reading the newspaper, talking in Chinese and whatever else it is that people do in airports... I am so tired. I can not wait to just get on the plane-- sleep, eat and watch as many movies as possible. My mate is picking me up in Toronto and I am staying with him and his family for the night... I will arrive on PEI at 10:50am Saturday. Can't wait to eat some of my mama's home cooking and hopefully see my brother and beautiful nieces on Sunday!!!! I am also very excited to see my cat Lilly.... oh and mum and dad too ;). Well,  I have lots of stuff still to write on which will be posted in my Worldviews SEA 2012  page-- Please check it out. Thanks for following my blog... Much Love -Nikki xo
 
 
Sunday afternoon here and I am quite hungover... (sorry mum). Carly and I booked into a hostel last night in the city so we could go out and not worry about having to get back. We shared a room with this guy from Portugal . The three of us went out together-- a lot of Thai rum. Very good rum but I may have over done it a tad... live and learn as they do say...? Anyways, enough about that. Its bee a pretty good week...
Monday through Wednesday we had lectures during the days at CMU (Chiang Mai University) where we have been studying for the last 3 weeks. We learned a lot about Thai history to present day-- very interesting. If you ever decided to travel to SEA at any point in your life, I would highly recommend reading about the history of the different countries and possibly introduce yourself to some of the politics.  The first thing to do is to realize that every single country in SEA is unique in its own way-- the history is different, the culture, languages, religion etc. 
Tuesday after class I went to the yoga studio... I've been going to yoga classes beside my house every weekend. The lady who teaches it has a studio in the city so I went to an hour and a half power yoga class which was awesome. I am really going to miss going to her classes... Went for a delicious dinner afterwards with Carly, khun ma and Tanya. Wednesday I ran home from university-- it was about 5km I think. Not to bad but quite an adventure running in the city streets of this city. Dodging dogs, people, food stands, motorbikes and cars, up and down the sidewalks and not to mention the heat and pollution-- yuck. Thursday we had a field trip to a few different places so I just took it easy. Went to hotel where the leaders are staying had dinner with Crys and then a group of us went for drinks with Yai and his wife (Yai was one of our leaders for the hill tribe visit). 
Friday we had off. Khun pa was home because he had to go to the dentist at 3pm to get a tooth pulled so he took us to this Flora Royal Project Garden which was amazing. He is hilarious as well... taking all these photos of us. He does not speak very much English however, sometimes it is almost easier to communicate with him then Khun ma. We had fish noodle soup for lunch and then he took us up the mountain to see this massive Buddha!!! Really nice view as well. It was a great morning. Took it pretty easy the rest of the day-- school work and organizing my stuff. Saturday I got up and went out with Khun ma. We went to the organic market, and a few grocery stores to get food for dinner and the cheesecake I made. Came back home, made the blueberry cheesecake, had lunch, went to yoga then came home and got ready to spend the night in town. We had an amazing Japanese dinner with vegetables and fish, a tasty red wine from Italy and the cheesecake for dessert. Then we got dropped off at the hostel and went out to a few different bars. Today we have slept most the day. I packed my stuff and went to yoga for the last time... kind of sad. Dinner will be ready soon. I still feel like complete crap-- when I drink I remember why I don't do it often. It literally takes all of my energy away from me. Carly wants to go to the walking street market however, I honestly don't know if I will be able to survive-- lets just hope dinner stays down!! Hahahaha 
Tomorrow is an early day. We hop on the bus, leave Chiang Mai and make our way down to Bangkok. We have a few stops before we get there on Wednesday and then we fly out on Friday. I get into Toronto Friday evening-- spend the night and fly to PEI Saturday morning. Really looking forward to coming home as surprising as that may sound! Hahaha. Well will write more soon. Till then take care -Nikki xo
 
 
Hello all! Monday evening here, hope you all had an exciting and eventful weekend-- I on the other hand had a very enjoyable relaxing one. The last time i blogged was Friday night and we had just arrived back from 3 days in the hill tribes therefore we were pruenly creeps up on you. CRAZY!!! Carly and I went to the mall for a couple of hours and I purchased the new Taylor Swift CD which I am very happy about-- I just love her LOL.  Then we came back home and I went to yoga with Khun ma, came home had supper and just relaxed the rest of the evening. Sunday I got up and did some more school work, went with Khun ma to pick up some groceries so I could make pumpkin pie. She bought an oven specifically for this-- not a real big one but a pretty big toaster oven type thing that you can bake, grill etc. Pretty sweet. I also got a large purchase-- my new ASUS Pad... very exciting... Love it! Then I came home and made the pie from scratch except for the crust which we bought (a graham cracker one) but the filling was from scratch and it turned out wonderful!!!! I plan on doing another pie again-- this time from scratch... it not here home hehehe. Went to yoga with Khun ma and Khun pa which was really good as always. Came home and made dinner for the family, enjoyed our delicious pie, played some Chinese checkers then off to bed. This morning (Monday) I got up and went for a run, spent the day at uni... lectures were o.k. After classes we got picked up and got some groceries while we waited for Tanya to finish lessons. Came home and made my famous omelets. Delicious. Man I will make a good wife/ mum someday.... SOMEDAY... not yet. I was exhausted when I was all done cooking and cleaning up-- what a long day. Now I am just relaxing, had a shower and going to head to bed soon. Plan on getting up to go running and I am planning on going to yoga tomorrow night. Can't wait!! Well,
 
 
Well it is a Friday evening... Carly and I just finished eating apple crisp made in a frying pan-- we are home alone which is a nice treat. I am listening to Taylor Swift's new album on youtube and enjoying a cup of tea-- life is good. We just got back from 3 days in the Northern Hills of Thailand-- where we lived in the home with the people of the Karen village. Here we learned about sustainable development and about the life of the hill tribes people. I will be writing more about this under the heading: "Worldviews" on my home page (of this website) if you want to learn and read more about my/ our experience there. It has been the highlight of Thailand for me so far. Anyways, Monday and Tuesday of this week were alright... nothing to exciting happened. Just the normal lectures all day at uni and then hanging out with our Thai family in the evening. However, Khung pa isn't here during the week as he works away. I've been getting up and running every morning which is good-- 5:30am though because we have to leave early. Everything about this trip has been so full and exhausting everyday... but running is my personal space and time-- I am thankful for it even if it means getting up that early. Plus it is nice and cool at that time, even though I come home dripping wet at the end hahaha. Tuesday morning I made french toast for everyone which was really yummy-- Khung ma and Tanya seemed to really enjoy. That night we decided to make dinner as well... the following is the story about that (I have also posted this as a blog on SSU Travels the World):

Carly and I decided we would share a little bit of home so we planned to make dinner one evening. After class we waited for Khun ma to finish work, we picked up Tanya from school and then went to the supermarket to pick up the ingredients for: Spaghetti,Caesar salad and apple crumble.

We got to the supermarket and walked through the aisles looking for everything that we needed. It didn't take to long however, Parmesan cheese was hard to find and I think the cheese we got was not Parmesan. As I was shopping Khun ma noticed a few things in my cart and said that I did not need to buy them because she had them as home. The tomato sauce being one of them... I asked her a few times: "Are you sure you have this? Because if you do not I can not make the dinner." She was sure. O.k. then-- perfect (so I thought).

After a long day: up at 5:30 am for a run, university from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, the supermarket and traffic jams we finally got home sometime before 7 pm (thinking about this I feel stress-- Lord help me I need more patience). I unpack our groceries and began to cook. Khun ma comes in and hands me a bottle of ketchup-- a.k.a. tomato sauce. I wanted to cry... in fact I wanted to scream. I explained this was not tomato sauce, she apologized. I know she felt terrible. I went upstairs and told Carly. Then I went back down and continued to cook. She said she could go to the 7/11 to get some tomato sauce. I said o.k. and thought to myself should I go? No surely she will know what to get. About 10 minutes later she came back... with two bottles of ketchup...

In conclusion to this story I made the spaghetti without the tomato sauce. It turned out alright although it did not meet my personal standards of spaghetti making. Khun ma and Tanya thought it was delicious... Carly was satisfied. We had no oven to make the apple crumble in so I made it in a frying pan and topped it with vanilla ice cream. Now this was excellent however, it wasn't really crumbly. Anyway's, just a heads up that if you ever come to Thailand be aware that if you are asking about tomato sauce you may get ketchup.

-Nikki

Ps: I am going to be writing about different topics under the heading worldviews on my 

 
 
Sunday morning-- Carly is still sound asleep and I am up (as always). I thought about going for a run but decided today would be a day of rest-- just going to relax until we go to the "Walking Street Market" this evening. However, I went for a run Friday morning which we really good-- it wasn't to long as I just ran around the neighborhood-- I didn't want to get lost. I ran past some Monks which made me nervous lol. You can not touch a Monk or they have to go through a cleansing process-- I knew I was far enough away but I just felt awkward or something. So I just "wai(ed)"-- put my hand together, bowed my head and smiled. Anyway's, they were going around the neighborhood to the people who had offerings to give and to pray to them... it was very interesting to see. The rest of the day was at university and then Khun ma came and picked us up. We dropped her nephew off at the bus station and then went to this huge stadium to have some snacks and walk around while we waited for Khun pa. We picked him up and then went for supper-- This was a very frustrating experience for me at the beginning. I forgot that when you order you do not order individually but you order to share... because of the language barrier I was lost and being tired was not helping. Finally, it was all sorted and I felt better-- but at the time I just wanted to burst into tears. I had no idea what was going on!!! Carly luckily reminded me that we all share. :) Basically we got home and went straight to bed. Exhausting day. Saturday we got up and had breakfast then our family drove us around Chiang Mai and we visited so many Buddhist temples!! Our family took us to visit them so we could learn how to pray like they do. It is actually  similar to what many Christians pray about-- basically they pray for the same things; life, health, job, family etc. They said the word 'good luck' however, I don't really believe in good luck so much... But I found myself praying for similar things... I didn't really feel or experience a spiritual moment-- but it was quiet, beautiful and peaceful. I would pray in a temple again. We had a delicous lunch and this time is was not a stressful experiecne. Then Khun ma took us to a factory/ shop where they make hand-made umbrellas and hand held fans, got some ice cream and headed back home. Once we were home I napped for an hour and then got up (Carly stayed in bed)-- the family and I went to yoga which was amazing and very hot. A bit sore today but in a good way-- I didn't realize I could do some of the poses until she pushed me into them!! Haha Came home, showered and had dinner (home cooked and amazing). The rest of the evening was spent playing music and singing. Tanya plays the violin and I got my flute out. It was nice. Breakfast this morning and then going to Tanya's school to hear her play and later on today around 5pm the markets to shop. Write more soon. H
 
 
Thursday here... arrived in Chiang Mai Monday night and stayed in a cute little hostel place for the first three nights. We left and are now living with our home-stay families. They came to the university when we finished our classes and took us home. It is very, very different from our home in the Philippines... I knew it would be when I saw their vehicle. The father "Khun pa" works in the government in a high position in justice relating to the execution area and the mother "Khun ma" works at the university. We have our own room and bathroom, big queen bed and air con. Totally different then our home in the Philippines. They took us to get dinner near the mall-- there was a huge Asian food festival. She bought us all this food, we had to keep saying we were full... lol Then we came home and she cut up a whole papaya. Food is such an important part of culture.
This morning we had a Thai language class where we are learning Thai and then we had a Thai cooking class where we cooked this amazing meal and then got to eat it when we were done!! It was soo yummy!!! Our afternoon class got cancelled because of some mess up so we had a pretty chill afternoon. Getting ready for bed now. 
Tuesday we had breakfast and a quick meeting then Arial, Crys and I went and got a foot scrub and pedicure (lets just say my feet really needed it after spending my summer in Australia, it felt amazing). Then we spend the day shopping... had a break to enjoy some red wine... went to this massive market which was totally hectic and got so much stuff-- did some Christmas shopping. There was literally everything you could think of!!!!! Had some dinner then got home and went to bed-- we were exhausted. Our travel day on Monday started at 4am and ended around midnight... Wednesday we had an orientation of the university and had our first lecture in the afternoon. Then we went back to the hotel to change and went to "Kan Tok" which is a dinner with entertainment-- different Thai dances and music. Now it is Thursday night and time for bed soon. We have wi-fi here at the house and a lap top to use so I will be able to blog often!! Yay. You can also check out the heading on my homepage called: worldviews to read about some different topics I've decided to write about. Write more soon. -Nikki xo
 
 
Not much to say other then we are now in Bangkok, Thailand waiting to board our next flight to Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai is where we will live with a Thai famiy and go to university. We spend a few days in Bangkok on the way back. Write more soon. xox -Nikki
 
 
Monday afternoon however, I wrote this Sunday afternoon in . In Manila the capital city of the Philippines. A big city. The last time I wrote it was Wednesday which was the last night at my home-stay. We had a big day which was a heap of fun. When we finally got dropped of at the university when the day was over Carly and I walked to our home stay... I got a beer. We had supper and she went to bed fairly early. However, I decided to go out and play a few games of pool with the family. It was such a great last night. Even though there was a language barrier between us all at times we found a way to communicate and they all felt like family. It kind of sucked, just as I was getting to know my family, get into a routine and start to feel rested it was over-- I do wish the stay here in the Philippines was longer. I love it here and I know I will come back. How can I not when I was shown such welcoming. I will miss the children, every day when I came home they were all there to welcome me. I will miss my home stay family and all the little moments that meant so much... washing dishes together, the beach, going for walks, laughs and meals together. I am not sure if it was life changing for me,maybe I don't realize it at the moment or something. However, if not life changing I know that I have grown in more ways then one. I have come to know more of who I am which I guess could be life changing in some way or another... All of life's moments can be life changing if you let them... if you allow it you ca grow and learn more about who you are and what you want in life.
Thursday morning I got up and went for a run with Alberto, my home-stays cousin. Lanie (my home-stay mum) came as well but went on her bike. We went to the airport and had breakfast with Lanie's younger brother Danny and then went home. We went to the mall to pick up a few things and then finished getting packed and such. We headed to the university at 1:30pm and had presentations and some discussions. The evening was a farewell and thank-you dinner with lots of local Philippine food. I tried baloute (I don't know how to spell it) anyways I will never eat it again... I don't even want to explain what it was because the thought of it makes me feel ill. Basically it is a hard boiled duck egg with the duck fetus still in it. So, when you crack it open you drink the juice which is ok... but then you can see this partially formed baby duck... with hair and everything... I didn't eat the whole thing, just a piece but that was it... I was sweating and gaging. Hahahaha I swallowed a little bit... egg and baby duck-- never again!!! I lost my appetite and it had taken a few days for me to forget the image of it. Everything else has been super delicious even the pig intestine!!!!
We took an over night bus to Manila which actually wasn't to bad... had the day to relax at the hotel which was nice and then had dinner here. Saturday was a pretty busy day visiting museums and going on a walking tour of the history of Manila. There is a lot of history here in the city and in the Philippines. If you have been reading my blogs you should really read about the history here... the walking tour had one of the top guides in the city and lets just say he left quite an impression on a few of us.
Now it is Sunday. We got up and went to church and a few of us skipped out on the mall to come back to the hotel and chill. We had Subway for lunch which was a nice comfort. I loved the home cooked food here in the Philippines but I will admit if you are not staying with a family or doing your own cooking it is hard to find good, healthy food. I mean you can but man there a huge western influence here (American)-- if you know the history you would understand why. They love food here and love sugar! Pop and cake for breakfast sometimes!!! And the only healthy option at the school canteen was a banana everything else was junk food. It was a bit depressing. It almost seems backwards because in Canada we are changing the system so that food is being taken out of schools but over here it is everywhere!!!!!! I've been pretty good at staying away from it but it sucks sometimes when its the only option-- that or be hungry which I have chosen a few times. Unlike Malaysia where there was a variety of ethnic foods to choose from (a bit more here in the city) in Laoag where we were living not so much-- Basically Philippine and American. It was interesting to learn that many South East Asian countries don't consider the Philippines to be Asian because of their religious beliefs and the large American influence. Very interesting.
Anyways, flying to Thailand tomorrow!! I am super stoked. Will write more soon. Love you all. xoxoxoxox -Nikki :)