Tag Archives: Egypt

Jogging the globe

Jogging is a go-to escape for me whenever I feel down or stressed. Feeling the power of my body, the forward momentum, the fresh – or polluted – outside air… it all adds up to an increase in perspective and personal power.

I almost always make a point to bring my sneakers with me (Asics loyalty forever!) wherever I am. If I feel anxious or out of place, a good jog around my new temporary home immediately gives me a greater sense of connection with my surroundings. These are some of the special places where I’ve pounded the pavement, dirt, cobblestone, and grass over the past year. Smiles n’s sweat…

This is not Huay Tung Tao but another beautiful area outside Chiang Mai. There are really so many lovely spots here...

This is not Huay Tung Tao but another beautiful area outside Chiang Mai. There are really so many lovely spots here…

Chiang Mai. The route around the moat is straightforward enough (hello, I am a square) that it is literally impossible to lose your way. Quite opposite to the twisty sois that lie inside the old city. The city is polluted, hot, sticky. I drive out to Huay Tung Tao lake for car-less, noise-less jogging. Fresh air fills my lungs, natural beauty all around the long ring. Paradise.

Surreal scenery + sunshine = happy times

Surreal scenery + sunshine = happy times

Hampi, southern India. Surreal scenery with giant boulders and expansive fluorescent-green rice paddies surrounding from all angles. Quadrophenia soundtrack in headphones, high heeled sneakers not so much. I’m One, love reign o’er me… Fantastical, yes please. Where am I?

Along the Arabian Sea side

Along the Arabian Sea side, Dahab

I run along the edge of the Arabian Sea in Dahab, Egypt – one of the ways I gain space from the shopkeepers constantly hounding me to buy things, and the general sexual harassment. Turning left out of my guesthouse, the hard paved strip, lined with restaurants, hurts my knees. Finally hit the beach with soft sand beneath my soles. I frequently forget to leave before 5pm at high tide. Dash through the water, soak my socks and shoes, grinning with glee. A quick glance out across the water shows small, precise patches of bright turquoise green standing out among the navy liquid canvas. Further on, the orange desert cliffs become the backdrop, as the odd camel or two trudges along with dog and herder in tow.

Don't run on the cobblestone!

Don’t run on the cobblestone!

Prague is a city I cannot live in long-term for several reasons. A simple one is because it’s sidewalks are covered in cobble-stone. A runner’s nightmare, if they have bad joints and bones. I manage a few spurts along the riverside, entirely idyllic what with the swans floating by, sun setting against the old bridges, lovers strolling along holding hands. Europe, you are too much! A week of this and my knees are shot to the point where I physically can’t walk for a day. My shoes are also gobbled by the cobble.

In Kampala, they say if you drive straight, you're drunk (because there are so many potholes scattered along the roads)...

In Kampala, they say if you drive straight, you’re drunk (because there are so many potholes scattered along the roads)…

Crazy Kampala, Uganda. Cars here, motorcycles there, goats to this side and that, men shouting “muzungu! how are you!”, dogs lying, furniture selling, bananas on heads, lorries whizzing, bicycles rolling, food carts cooking. I wonder if I am the only silly white person to run along these city streets in the heat, in the pollution, the yells, the traffic dodging. Seeing another muzungu jogging by – much faster than I – proves that at least I am not alone. I love the feeling, sun on skin, pounding pavement, headphones in ears. Fuck yes.  Sweat drips, lungs constrict, nostrils flare at the gasoline exhaled by the always passing boda bodas.

And I think… I love to run.

Heart

heart-hurt

Some friends and strangers have kindly featured my artwork on their respective sites recently!

If you’re interested, here they are.. Interview with talented artist and entrepreneur Valerie Parisius, interview with travel writer Alana Morgan, and some of my drawings via Sarah at Mapping Words.

It’s really fun and a real honour to have other people interested in what you do. I feel grateful.

Hugs all around.

I’ll take this time also to invite you to sign up for my bi-monthly newsletter with art, photos, and short updates on whatever’s going on in KimLand. They’re short, sweet, and have a few colourful pics from wherever I am.

Cheers!

Three cheers

When I left my job, my home in Chiang Mai, when I packed it all up, stored it away at friends’ abodes, sold whatever was left, I felt light, free and flying. At some point my seemingly small amount of stuff (really, all I have is what I have with me) started to seem monstrous. My suitcase, yoga mat, backpack, shoulder bag became burdensome.

Three days of transportation, my time of dread during travel. My indecisiveness over where I’d end up won over my desire to go light. I’ve been carting around more luggage than is anywhere near acceptable to hip-hop ‘round India, let alone Egypt. My desire for no commitment extended to not wanting to wed any particular airport.

Debit card malfunction. Lickity split Western Union is indeed uber-speedy with the cash. No harm, just a bit of a stressed am for chilled-out, weed-cloaked, aloo gobi-laden Hampi. Plane ticket purchased with fresh-off-the-press Rupees. Pyramids win over surfing in Sri, doubling back to CM or booking it to Europe. The mayhem of Cairo, beaches of Dahab and the Pyramids of oh-what’s-it-called Giza are officially on the agenda. The calendar is colourful with blue and yellow skies and sand.

If I’ve learned anything from this experience, of quitting my job, leaving the people and place I loved dearly, jumping into palm trees of another sort, headed with absolutely no direction, not even a suitcase-leaving-at-the-airport direction, it’s that I’ll be okay, I’ll be fine. No, I’ll be better than fine, that’s just it. I’ll be damned near leaping off the bed excited for my next destination, thoughts spinning from one end of my brain to the other with art projects, colours flying around my heart, inside my lungs, arms energetically unfolding outward, gently curving inward expressing my self with my dance; eyes exploding with determination, gut panging with fear of going to yet another place unknown, untested, unguaranteed, and with pride and passion for the exact same reasons.

The path, she is right. Three cheers! Here’s to a fantastic 2013 and living your heart with all the grace in the world.

Like a record, baby

“It’s not time to worry yet.” – Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird

January 25th, Egypt. Revolution number 2.

A warning comes in my inbox, courtesy of the Canadian Embassy, goes something like, “All Canadians are warned.. blah blah blah.” Not that I don’t take it seriously, I do. It’s pretty clear that some shit is going to go down in Tahrir Square. The people are not happy, nor should they be. Morsi’s a bit of a dick, to say the least. The situation’s complicated, as it always is. The Egyptians are stifled and oppressed.

I can feel the energy even way down here in Dahab. The beach town is chill, but the Arabic news channels blare content of the protests and mayhem while the men sit around smoking shisha, discussing the situation. Something will happen, it always does.

A friend here mentions her plans to go to Cairo with her partner first weekend February. “I sort of want to see it happening.” My head nods, reflexively. Hell yeah, so do I. Two photojournalist friends of mine live in Cairo, they’ve seen it all through the years, surviving and wiser for it, emotionally and professionally. To see a country really say ‘we’re not gonna take this’, to see that in action, sure. A few Korean girls head there this morning, excited to be part of something.

It all serves to remind me that fear-mongering is more damaging than thoughtful risk-taking. Pragmatism, steadiness and confidence are traits that serve. Fear, panic and exaggeration do not. I respect the people who are part of the uprising, making their voices heard. Though there’s no doubt that there will be some unseemly shit happening on the side, symptomatic of the chaos. It’s tough to understand it all, particularly as a foreigner. No black and white here, everything shades of grey.

What seems less ambiguous is the political situation in my own country.

Under Harper’s hideous reign, Canada is slowly becoming a shadow of its former self. We sit back, watching our ‘leader’ hand over our land and jobs to China, watching the our lakes become unprotected. Silence. Angry posts are made on Facebook, petitions are signed, sure. Awareness is maybe increased but nothing more. Rest assured, there will be no uprisings in Canada. A few universities manage to generate some riots every now and again, but aside from that the country remains peacefully passive as ever. As Canadians, we wear our national co-badges of apathy and apology with a certain amount of pride.

I am not comparing Canada to Egypt, that would be useless and impossible. But there is merit to standing up for what you want, yelling at the idiots in charge, disturbing the peace, seeking justice. Don’t take it lying down. Violence is not the answer but causing chaos is sometimes a pre-requisite for change. One life, you better speak up for what you want, you better demand it.

Canada, are you listening? Am I?

Scene from a dive shop

I try on a wetsuit for the first time in over 10 years. Can’t zip it up over my thigh. Head to the Egyptian guy hanging behind the counter for help.

“Too small, need bigger please.”

He drinks his chai lazily, focussing on his phone. “It fits, pull harder.”

I struggle, knowing that the jagged edges will never meet.

He looks up and, assessing the situatio, declares, “the problem is your thigh.”

Hahaha. And ha. Hahahahaahahahaahaahah.

Flashback to when a comment like that would’ve sent me sobbing, tears quickly rolling into a torrent of thoughts from ‘not good enough’ to ‘horrible person’, ending in a messy ball of ‘doesn’t deserve to live’.

Back to the shop. I laugh at the mixed-up statement, hearing myself respond playfully with an indignant, “excuse me? The problem is NOT my thigh!! The problem is the suit!”

Smiling, the boy rifles through the pile of black and grey suits on the floor and comes up potentially victorious. “Try this.”

I do, managing to squeeze my perfectly sized thigh into it. (Still takes the both of us to accomplish the feat – he pulls the fabric together as I zip with mad effort). I emerge from the situation wholly victorious, in so many ways.

And with that, the underwater-world awaits me with baited fish-breath and fluorescent coloured fins.