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Monthly Archives: February 2011

week one

Andaman Sea Ferry, originally uploaded by Mister Wind-Up Bird.

Phuket is a hole.  We arrived after two days at the Kuala Lumpur Sheraton, which was a fantastic experience in what lifestyle marketers would probably call “affordable luxury”.  Which to my mind means I have to wear my one nice Ben Sherman shirt the entire time, but I can wear it with my cheap shorts and sandals.

Anyway, Phuket.  It’s a hole, and not just because of where we were the days before.  Decrepit bar girls, maimed dogs staggering in the streets, and rich, lobstery, middle-aged Euros shuffling between the Moevenpick resort and a forest of blue umbrellas filling Karon beach.

We were not staying at the Moevenpick resort.  We were staying on the periphery of Phuket, which means paying first-world hotel prices for a small, air-conditioned concrete box infused with the gentle aroma of moldy sewage.  We had planned to spend two nights in Phuket.  Instead, we activated plan B: stay out of our room, drink lots of cheap Singha, watch a pirated DVD of Hot Fuzz, sleep a few hours, and then catch the first ferry to Ko Phi Phi.

KPP has the double distinction of being the shooting location of The Beach and being devastated by the 2004 tsunami.  Today, it’s a popular, laid-back tourist destination.  We wandered the narrow streets filled with bars, dive shops and weaving bicycles (no motor vehicles allowed on KPP), and found a room for the night.  After roaming for a few enjoyable hours, we went to bed early.  About eleven o’clock I was awoken by a steady dubstep mmmthump-mmmthump-mmmthump.  Curious, I got out of bed, pulled on my shorts and stepped out into the night.  The beach was home to what I can only call a really lame rave with a budget.  Every bar on the beach had a stage and a DJ setup.  Every stage had half a dozen drunk blonde chicks (and one or two optimistic dudes) dancing on it.  In front of every stage, four or five poi and fire spinners were clumsily trying to not light themselves on fire.  Around every stage, a dozen or so bored tourists were sitting in the sand drinking.  This scene was repeated up and down the beach.  I took it all in and then headed back to the room where I laid back down with my wife and fell into a deep sleep.

The next day we caught another ferry deeper into the Andaman Sea, to Koh Lanta.  It’s hard to believe we’ve only been married a week, that we only left Australia five days ago.  It seems like it’s been a very long time.  So far, so good.


Wife., originally uploaded by Mister Wind-Up Bird.

The past week has pretty much been a blur of writing and crossing things off a pages-long to-do list, but our wedding on Saturday made it all worthwhile. While Vancouver shivered in the cold, we married in blinding sunlight on a beach in Surfers Paradise, Queensland. Janelle walked down the aisle to a string-quartet cover of “There is a Light That Never Goes Out” by The Smiths, the reading was a Mary Oliver poem that seemed to perplex people more than anything, and our vows made people laugh, awwww and cry in the space of about 90 seconds. Then a great house-party reception, complete with kids swimming in the pool, septuagenarian Chinese-Australians talking about gambling in the corner, and plenty of tanned Aussie chicks.

A good day, all told.

I haven’t fully had time to process it all, but Janelle’s immigration application is finally complete and in about 12 hours we’ll be on our way to Kuala Lumpur to begin our extended honeymoon vacation walkabout. It seems amazing how much has happened, and is continuing to happen. Like we’ve crammed three years worth of life-changing experiences into a few weeks. But it feels surprisingly okay, and very right.

Bye, Van!

rainbow silhouette, originally uploaded by Mister Wind-Up Bird.

Future Saturdays

This Saturday, I leave Vancouver, and I don’t know when I’ll be back. The Saturday after that, I get married on a jetty in Surfers Paradise to the most awesome chick in Aus. The Saturday after that, my new wife and I will be toting backpacks on a boat to an island in the Andaman Sea. I don’t know where we’ll be the Saturday after that.

It’s definitely a time of changes. In the past few weeks, I’ve handed in the final, revised draft of my PhD thesis, co-planned a wedding—a modest wedding, to be sure, but a wedding nonetheless—and I’ve moved out of my East Van apartment and onto a West End sofa. I only lived in the apartment for two and a half years, but it seemed longer. The thesis felt a lot longer than that.

Our plan is, post-wedding, to travel across Asia with no real fixed schedules other than what’s required by the imposition of the seasons and our own ability to deal with where we find ourselves. I’m not sure how long it’ll take, where we’ll go, or what we’ll find there. I don’t mean that in some romantic way, of peaking behind a curtain of the unknown. After all, we now live in an age where information is essentially free and instantaneous. And I’m not shy about using it. I’ve looked at blogs posted from well-trod paths, and Googled remote villages to check out the local guest house situation.

But while information is free (monetarily), experience still has to be earned, and it’s paid for in change (not the monetary kind). I have not the slightest hesitation about getting married, but I’m curious what will happen to the bachelor incarnation of Eric. Travel, I have a few more qualms about, but I’m excited, too. What will be the relationship the married Eric getting sick in a Mumbai toilet—for I unctuously will be getting sick—has to the Eric who currently sits in a Strathcona office debugging Objective C code into the evenings? Will the earlier Eric seem naive? Foolish? Pretty much the same, but with a bigger bank account? Google has no answers. I know. I checked.