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Les Talk, More Travel

10 Rad Things To Do in Victoria in the Fall

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It’s been a little rainy lately, but I’ve learned that when you’re living on the Wet Coast, you pretty much just have to suck it up, put on some rainboots (*note to self: buy rainboots), and find things to do until at least December when it’s more acceptable to to start hibernating. Plus, the big crowds of tourists are gone, there’s still lots of sun and blue skies between showers, and there are so many amazing things to do in and around the city this time of year! Here are 10 ideas:

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Thirty

I turned 30 last month; a lot has changed in the past 10 years! Here’s the TL; DR of the longer intro I’m not going to write: I turned 30; here are some ways that I’ve changed and some things that I’ve learned along the way about travel, sexuality, introversion, and wisdom teeth.

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Rainbow Summer: West Coast Pride

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Since moving out west, my life just seems to be getting gayer and gayer! That has a lot to do with the ways I’ve changed since coming out, having some great queer friends and social outlets, and having a partner who has no qualms about wearing rainbow in public, which makes me feel comfortable doing the same. With my newfound queer confidence, I’ve been integrating that part of my identity into everyday life – not just socially but also through volunteer experience and research projects at school.

However, one of the most fun aspects of my increasingly supergay identity has been West Coast Pride festivals! I was lucky enough to attend a bunch of events this summer in both Victoria and Vancouver. It was exciting to do more than just watch the parades, which, although enjoyable, is all I’ve really done at the handful of Pride festivals I’ve been to in the past. This year, I got to coordinate multiple rainbow and unicorn outfits.

These were some of the highlights: Continue reading “Rainbow Summer: West Coast Pride”

Must Eats: South Korean Foods to Accompany a Hot Summer

The weather’s nice and warm in Victoria, and I’ve been having mad cravings for some Korean summer foods. Here are a few super refreshing options!

Patbingsoo (팥빙수):

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A mountain of shaved ice, topped with sweet red beans. It usually comes covered in sweetened condensed milk and topped with gooey rice cakes, and you can often order it with ice cream, fruit, cereal flakes, jelly, and in different flavours. Continue reading “Must Eats: South Korean Foods to Accompany a Hot Summer”

Vancouver Island Camping: How Did I End up Here?

Note: this story takes place on First Nations traditional territory. It’s a fun one about a recent overnight trip, written in response to the prompt: “How did I end up here?”

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“What should I name my pee-zee?”

We were a group of mostly lesbians, gathered around a campfire at our campsite on Vancouver Island’s southwest coast. My friend was obsessed with her new toy: a device that allowed her to pee standing up. Every so often she’d gleefully shout: “Be right back!”, and frolic off into the woods. We were excited about it too; a little jealous, even. We were also a little buzzed. Naming it only seemed natural.

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Mexico: Playa del Carmen Favourites

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Last month I joined a group of friends for a week-long trip to Playa del Carmen, Mexico! The 12 of us rented an AMAZING Airbnb house and spent a week in the sun exploring, relaxing, eating, drinking, and perfecting our burns!

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I really liked my friend Katrina’s post about the trip, so in the spirit of imitation as flattery (we had similar highlights!), here are my favourite things about the trip.

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Seattle

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I visited Seattle for the first time last month! Right across the border and just a ferry ride away, the setting to my favourite late 90s rom-com (10 Things I Hate About You, obviously) has been tempting me since I moved out to the West Coast. I finally ventured down, and it was a fabulous trip! I’m sharing a condensed, rearranged version of my itinerary so that you can have a fabulous trip too!

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Anxiety on a White Sandy Beach: GTFO of this Tropical Paradise!

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My first night on Boracay, I sat with a friend on a white sandy beach, beer in hand, waves gently coming in a few feet away. The air was warm, and we listened to live music from a nearby restaurant.

I had just finished my second year of teaching in South Korea and was taking the long way home to Canada. The small island in the Philippines was the first stop during about a month of travel, and it had drawn me in for the same reasons it appeals to most tourists: white beaches and relaxation. But the thoughts that began running through my mind were far from relaxing.

A jumble of worries quickly became more specific: I wasn’t employed in Korea or Canada. I was moving back home after more than two years of living overseas, where I had been financially stable, competent at my job, and free to travel around Asia whenever I had time off work. I had about upcoming commitments to normal people things: weddings and family reunions, big decisions on the horizon, and a crap-ton of important yet tedious tasks looming, like reinstating health care and paying taxes on foreign income. Things that are hard to process when you lead a weird, Peter Pan-esque lifestyle.

Playing vagabond during vacation from work was one thing, but holy shit what was I doing now?! Continue reading “Anxiety on a White Sandy Beach: GTFO of this Tropical Paradise!”

Coming Out-iversary: Ways that Coming Out has Surprised Me

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Earlier this month, I celebrated my 5 year Coming Out-iversary. I remember that first day very clearly, because it took 3 years to get to that point. I was 24, and had never had a significant relationship. I’d never kissed a girl! I didn’t have any close gay friends. I’d watched pretty much all the lesbian TV shows and movies I could find – and that was challenging, before Netflix! The L Word was my world.

I really really wanted my life to start.

Finally, I gave myself an ultimatum: I couldn’t leave the country until I came out. Not surprisingly, that worked! I set up a meeting with a Peer Mentor through a university Pride Centre, and told my biggest secret for the first time ever.

Turns out, coming out is as weird as it is wonderful. I thought so much about the day when I would finally have the guts to say the words that I didn’t really think about what would happen next. I didn’t consider all the ways that I would change.

Looking back on 5 years of becoming supergay, these are some things that surprised me:

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Faking Extroversion: Making Connections in New Cities

 

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Moving to a new city is hard. It’s easy to pretend you’re brave and adventurous, but while you’re telling people how excited you are, it’s likely that your actual thoughts about the whole ordeal are an anxious mess. Leaving your life behind, the move itself, and the settling in period are stressful and emotionally draining. For many introverts, there’s an additional worry: how am I going to make good friends?

This problem isn’t exclusive to introverts. But in order to make meaningful friendships, you usually have to give yourself lots of opportunities to interact with people. Extroverts are generally able to create more of these opportunities.

The options for settling into a new city may seem pretty grim for an introvert: either give up your downtime to small talk with strangers, or be a happy recluse. Honestly, the second option is always the most tempting, but it turns out that having friends is awesome. So how do you get from Point A (reluctant acceptance that hermitdom is not the answer) to Point B (having consistent and meaningful social connections)? My suggestion is to fake extroversion. Just for a little while, I promise. Here are some tips for becoming a short-term, extroverted introvert:

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Wanting the World

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It’s a new year: a time for new beginnings, and new seasons of my favourite TV shows! I have some life goals in progress right now, so rather than set resolutions for the future, I thought I’d look to the past for inspiration.

Six years ago, I’d recently come home from my first long trip. I had spent 13 months working and travelling in Australia and then visiting Southeast Asia. I was having trouble adjusting to being home, and I desperately wanted to write about travel so that I could continue to feel immersed in it. The letter that I came up with is the closest I’ve ever come to time travel; I ended up writing a letter to myself in the future! Some of it makes me cringe, but I’m going to include it anyway, in the interest of vulnerability (with minor edits for comprehension):

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A Visit From St. NichoLeslie*

‘Twas the week before Christmas, when all through Korea
People were freezing, due to winds from Siberia; 
The passports were placed by the front door with care, 
In hopes that Leslie Teacher soon would not be there; 

The children were sniffling and picking their noses, 
I even had one kid throw up on his clothe-es! 
And me in my jacket, scarf, boots, mitts and cap, 
Thought: “It’s definitely colder than home now, what crap!” 

But decorations are up, I have holiday cheer! 
(And I wouldn’t turn down a good holiday beer.) 
I have a small tree, and some half-working lights, 
And a plan for avoiding a cold Christmas night; 

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, 
Like Dasher and Dancer, I’ll mount to the sky! 
I will sure miss seeing you all, that is true, 
But I will be travelling (’cause that’s what I do!) 

That’s right, while you’re trudging through snow that’s knee deep, 
I’ll be indulging in a massage in Siem Reap! (Sorry!) 
Now I may not be getting a new Christmas toy, 
But I’ll be saying “Happy New Year” from Hanoi! 

The whole time I’ll be thinking of family (and food), 
Of gingerbread, injera, the holiday mood; 
Guitar songs, board games, Secret Santa, and more, 
That special warmth you can’t get from a store. (Thanks, Grinch.)

Now perhaps I will see all of you soon on Skype, 
But in case there are technical difficulties, I’ll type: 
Though I’m not there person (which just isn’t right!), 
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night! 

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*Last year was the third time I was away from home at Christmas. (I spent it in Siem Reap… I know, I know. Life is rough.) I was feeling inspired on a lunch break, and sent this out to my relatives.

12 Ways to Deal with Holiday Homesickness When You’re Abroad

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First, let me say that this post is loaded with privilege. Not everyone has a good relationship with family, or positive holiday experiences, and on top of that has the ability to be overseas missing them. I’m very grateful for my family and for the opportunities I’ve had to travel long-term. Also, it’s a very Christmas-oriented post, but feel free to replace the C-word with your holiday or non-denominational celebration of choice!

        Whether you’re working on the other side of the world without the means to go home for a visit, or choosing to take advantage of days off to travel, it can be tough to be away from home for the holidays. Here are some ways to ease the ho-ho-homesickness:

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Getting Naked with Strangers: Navigating the Korean Jjimjilbang

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One of the best ways to relax in Korea is to strip down and spend a day at the jjimjilbang, or public bathhouse/spa. If you’ve never been before, it can be a little overwhelming to figure it out. Namely: when should you be naked and when should you not be? (Coincidentally also one of life’s greatest questions.) Here are some guidelines for your first time.

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