The Patch

July 22, 2007

Sunday 21st July- Jetlagged musings on travelling.

Filed under: International News,Miscellany,Uncategorized — denesha @ 8:00 pm

I would like to start this short and somewhat rushed post with an apology. I am sorry for skipping the last two weeks. I did plan a replacement but he seems to have disappeared. I was actually in sunny Canada for the past two and a half weeks. Whilst England was waiting for summer to start, a glorious heat wave hit the BC area. I was in heaven. I probably owe you all another apology for rubbing my wonderful good fortune in your faces. It was truly a good holiday despite spending way too much time on Facebook when I was struck by BC boredom. It really is the worst kind of boredom.

Canada isn’t really built on a human scale. Everything is much bigger and surrounding suburban towns like Mississauga and Pickering in Toronto are in fact cities surrounding the city of Toronto yet count as part of the city of Toronto. I found the whole idea quite impossible to comprehend. The largeness of Canada means that it is nearly impossible to get around on public transport alone, but the public transport system in Toronto was infinitely better than that of Vancouver, in my own ‘spoilt Londoner’ opinion.
I have done a lot of travelling in my life and I hope to do much more as I get older and wish to embark on more adventurous holidays. Nevertheless, I find that it is harder to immerse myself in Western, English speaking countries like Canada than it is to do so in South East Asian countries like Malaysia. I spent my holiday trying to decipher exactly why this happens to me.

Immediately, I pinpointed the fact that I have been travelling to South East Asia more frequently than I travel to Canada as both of my parents are from Singapore. Yet as I moved from Vancouver to Toronto, I began to realise that perhaps there were other reasons for this sense of alienation within the country. I feel more like a tourist because I cannot comprehend the immense largeness of a country that is much like the UK in its language, Queen and names of places, yet entirely different at the same time. My accent is more pronounced amongst the slow Canadian drawl and is subject to much amusement for shop assistants, passers by whom I was forced to ask directions from after getting lost in on a single road and my charming family out there. They made me say the ‘life of the wife is ended by the knife’ a million times because they heard it on Family Guy. I obliged because blood is thicker than the Atlantic and I felt the British foreign office was far too busy expelling Russian embassy officials to deal with me committing a mass “stick the bloody life of the wife quote up your arse’ murder. (I will probably go into detail about Russia next Sunday ok? I’m just dreadfully jetlagged and struggling to step out of the Harry Potter spell.)
The number of similarities between the UK and Canada only serve to emphasise our differences. The image of our Queen is on the back of their coins too, but their coins are worth half of what our coins are worth. The names of their areas mirror the names of our’s, yet the London suburb of Richmond is far prettier than the Vancouver suburb of Richmond albeit much smaller. In fact, the London suburb of Richmond could probably fit into the single street that I got lost on.

It was only on the way back from Canada that it hit me. The feeling of being a tourist is unique for each country. These varying feelings are exactly why people travel. They force us to step out of our comfort zone of knowing exactly where the nearest Tesco is and how to get there by bus. This varying feelings makes us feel alive again. I’m never more aware of who I am until I am in a country that is entirely at odds with who I am.
After all, it’s hard to find yourself if you know where everything is. 

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