Writer’s Block: Asian An­tic­i­pa­tion

Pre­par­ing for the trip of a life­time is ex­cit­ing—and a lit­tle daunt­ing!

Our Canada - - Features - by Judy Tran,

It was May 29th and the big day had fi­nally ar­rived. I had an­tic­i­pated this day from the mo­ment I’d pur­chased the plane ticket. I was leav­ing the com­fort of Canada to be­gin my two-month long ex­otic ad­ven­ture in South­east Asia. Work­ing ev­ery day, back-to-back shifts at two jobs for more than a month had fi­nally paid off. I man­aged to earn $3,000 just stand­ing around a golf course try­ing to look pretty, and work­ing a mun­dane re­cep­tion job at an of­fice.

My flight was just be­fore noon and the sun was be­gin­ning to emerge, slow­ing bright­en­ing the quiet city while I was still fran­ti­cally pack­ing for this trip. My eyes be­gan to feel more and more heavy, and I used what­ever ounce of en­ergy that was left in me to re­press the panic that had the po­ten­tial of erupt­ing like a vol­cano. Know­ing that there was 23 hours of travel time to Bangkok ahead of me, I re­sisted the urge to col­lapse into bed and con­tin­ued stuff­ing the es­sen­tials into the back­pack. Frus­trated with my­self, I thought about how eas­ily this en­tire process could have been. I should have been more pre­pared and if I was, I would have been able to get the beauty sleep I needed. It would have been smart to make some sort of pack­ing check­list, or not wait un­til the day be­fore to start pack­ing. It was about 8 a.m. when my mom in­sisted on leav­ing to en­sure I had an adequate amount of time to make it onto my in­ter­na­tional flight. So, I zipped up my huge back­pack and said screw it to what­ever I might have for­got­ten.

On the way to the air­port, the loud mu­sic on the car ra­dio min­i­mized any small, point­less chit-chat be­tween my mom and me. Her de­meanor seemed happy and ex­cited, but deep down I knew she was filled with worry— as if all the bad things that could pos­si­bly hap­pen, would hap­pen to me.

It was about two months prior to leav­ing when I had men­tioned the trip to my mom and dad. Filled with ex­cite­ment, I ex­plained how I made it through the painful third-year of uni­ver­sity and how I de­served the two months to recharge and ex­plore parts of the Earth I have yet to see. My dad was very unim­pressed with the whole idea and in­sisted I stay safe in Canada. Through­out the two months, he con­stantly ex­plained how I was at high risk of be­ing kid­napped or robbed as a solo, fe­male trav­eller. He tried to frighten me with all the pos­si­ble sce­nar­ios of ei­ther in­jur­ing my­self or catch­ing a for­eign dis­ease, and how I couldn’t pos­si­bly rely on any health­care sys­tem out­side of Canada. At that point, the flight ticket was al­ready pur­chased and there was no turn­ing back: I was leav­ing for two months and there was noth­ing they could say that would change my mind. I was de­ter­mined to be­come an

ex­pe­ri­enced trav­eller and visit the dif­fer­ent, beau­ti­ful sights of Asia. They had ev­ery right to be wor­ried, but they needed to re­al­ize that I was a big girl and I could han­dle any sit­u­a­tion that was thrown at me. Hope­fully. Af­ter fi­nally ar­riv­ing at the air­port, we ex­changed our good­byes, gave each other one last big I’ll-miss-you hug and off I went to help re­claim the Lonely Moun­tain, like Bilbo Bag­gins.

The whole check­ing- in, bag­gagecheck and air­port se­cu­rity process was sur­pris­ingly quick and pain­less. I was at my gate num­ber be­fore I even knew it —with an hour and a half to spare—so I en­dured the ag­o­niz­ing Tim Horton’s line for brunch. Af­ter get­ting my French vanilla cof­fee and jalapeño bagel with cream cheese, I searched for a com­fort­able seat that looked out the win­dow. I took a sip of my hot bev­er­age, savour­ing the oh-sosat­is­fy­ing rich, sweet and creamy vanilla taste as if it was my last. As I looked mind­lessly to­wards the other side of the glass, the ex­cite­ment be­gan to warm up my lower ab­domen as I imag­ined all the fun I was go­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence in Asia. I was most ex­cited about the food, get­ting to taste the truly au­then­tic and un­west­ern­ized lo­cal cui­sine. I was thrilled to spend a day with ele­phants and see all the dif­fer­ent tem­ples of gold. I was en­thu­si­as­tic about hik­ing the for­eign land­scapes of Asia, be­cause it was go­ing to be so much dif­fer­ent than the Alberta Rocky Moun­tains I’m used to. I was ex­cited for Asia. Af­ter pulling my thoughts back to re­al­ity, I glanced down at my phone only to re­al­ize that there was still

another hour be­fore take­off. I sent last minute good­bye texts to those I deemed im­por­tant, so if I were kid­napped in Asia my cap­tors could ask them for ran­som in re­turn for my free­dom.

Af­ter a lagging hour had gone by, which con­sisted of noth­ing but a blank stare out the win­dow, an an­nounce­ment was made that pas­sen­gers on the flight from Cal­gary to Van­cou­ver could fi­nally board the plane. Wait­ing pa­tiently in the line of peo­ple, one by one the air­port em­ploy­ees scanned both the board­ing pass and pass­port of fel­low trav­ellers, be­fore al­low­ing them to en­ter the rec­tan­gu­lar tun­nel lead­ing into the plane. In­hal­ing deeply, I took one last breath of fresh Cana­dian air be­fore en­ter­ing the plane. I was in­stantly greeted in both English and French by a fe­male flight at­ten­dant wear­ing a scarf around her neck that matched the red colour of the Cana­dian flag. I re­sponded with a pleas­ant smile, then con­tin­ued walk­ing down the nar­row aisle, look­ing left and right, back and forth, un­til fi­nally find­ing my seat. I plopped my­self into the stiff blue seat, strapped the seat­belt across my hips and tight­ened the belt so it was se­cure, yet com­fort­able, be­fore be­ing hit with the re­al­iza­tion that the ad­ven­ture had of­fi­cially be­gun.

JUDY TRAN Judy is a Mount Royal Uni­ver­sity alumni cur­rently pur­su­ing her dream of be­com­ing an op­tometrist. She says she’s never been much of a writer, so is thrilled to have her very first pub­lished story, and is hop­ing there will be more in the...

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