Wednesday, 27 May 2015

1600 Miles To Go

What city is 1600 miles away from Atyrau, located in the mountains and a former capital of a CIS country?


ALMATY!

That's right folks, I am heading to Almaty next year (barring any unforeseen circumstances)! I am still working with the same school system just in a new, and more exciting location. I have traveled to Almaty twice this year, and absolutely love the city. It has a really nice vibe, especially in the spring, and it is nestled at the food of the Tian-Shen Mountains. It is an eclectic mix of soviet style buildings and modern architecture. 

I can't wait to explore more of it and discover everything that it has to offer! I am so excited to be excited about the city I am living in. Here is to a new chapter! 

It is very close to the capital of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek, where my friend Lynelle is living so that will be really nice to have my hiking buddy so close! Two friends from Kuwait will also be moving to Almaty, which is almost like worlds colliding but still really fun! 

Here is to my next adventure!


Did you know? Tulips are native to Kazakhstan!

Downtown Almaty

Church that legend has it, was built with no nails

Green Bazaar 

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Thoughts on a Train

There is something so romantic about taking the train; I love to sit and gaze out the window. I love passing the little villages, that still have homes made out of mud and outhouses in the back garden. I romanticize such a simple life. In the hustle and bustle of living in even a small city, I miss the wide open spaces that we can find at home. I miss the smell of grass.  I miss looking at the stars. What must it be like to live for subsistence? In the harsh and unforgiving steppe it must be difficult. How do they do it? Why do they do it? I know many flock towards the cities for work. What about their family at home? Who is living in those huts? What do they do all day? Why do they still have camels? Sometimes I want to give up my material existence and simply live life for the sake of living, maybe not in Kazakhstan. I think that I could do it in Canada or the States, live remotely, off the grid, produce all I need to survive, preferably with a family. As the train rolls on, past miles and miles of empty steppe, my worries seem to fade into the horizon. All the stress of the last weeks of school fade away with the chugging of the engine as I stared out the window. These are just a sample of my thoughts on a train.




Sunset returning to Atyrau

Sunset on the way to Aktobe

Camels on the Steppe

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Weekend in Aktau!

Ever since I found out that I would be moving to Atyrau, well really since I applied to work in Kazakhstan, I have wanted to visit the Caspian Sea. I mistakenly believed that Atyrau was on the sea, well it certainly looks like it is from google maps, when in fact it is about 30kms away from the "sea" which at the northern tip is marshland. Ah well, we finally had a long weekend with warm weather so we made the hour long flight down to Aktau to see the sea.

It was beautiful! The air was that perfect sea salty freshness, with a cool breeze coming off the sea. It is exactly what you'd expect from a Kazakh Seaside town. Wide streets, interesting statues, parks everywhere, a lovely boardwalk along the seaside. Truly truly beautiful. 

Plus there is a lot to do outside of the city! Tons of cool things to see, like mosques built into the caves, canyons, depressions and much more! We went with a tour company, because you are literally driving through the steppe to find these places, I would highly recommend them, their contact information is at the bottom of the page. 

There is also a hot spring! Now, I guarantee that this is unlike any other hot spring that you will experience, just look at the photos to see! But, it is incredibly relaxing, it was nice to see many locals out and about enjoying the spring.

All in all a great weekend!

Mausoleum 

Mausoleum

Sheep's head on the grave of Sultan Ahmed

Canyon

Mosque built into the Cliff Side

Valley of Stone Balls

Sherkala

Sherkala

Radon Hot Spring



Partner Tour:
Partnertour@mail.ru
If you e-mail in English, I would google translate to Russian for their benefit. However, you will receive a reply in whichever language you send. 

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Georgia: The Caucasus Mountains

Lynelle and I love the outdoors, so it was an absolute MUST for us to visit the Caucasus Mountains before the end of out trip in Georgia. As I live in the Steppe, I was in desperate need of some time in the mountains with some fresh air and beautiful scenery. I always feel more centered after a good hike.

Master trip-planner that I am, I found a hike that was popular enough to have a marked trail, and information about it online. After that it was a simple matter of finding a Marshuka (shared taxi) to get us out to the mountain town, and head off!

The bus station in Tbilisi is really easy to navigate, there are plenty of people telling you which way to go to find the bus or Marshuka that you need. Unfortunately, we were the only two heading that way, so they sent us in a private taxi instead. The cost difference was about 5 dollars, so neither of us were too bothered. He also stopped at many places a long the way, including a cute little town right in the wine making district.

The trip should have taken about 3 hours to Kazbeji, however we were delayed on top of the mountain for 3 hours due to bad weather conditions, and due to the fact that they only allow one direction of traffic to cross the path at once. Good thing we had Pitch Perfect to entertain ourselves and our driver. We kept ourselves in good spirits and went for a walk in the beautiful falling snow. Eventually we made it through the pass (albeit a few near-death experiences later....our diver was a little bit crazy), and were welcomed with peirogy and tea at our guesthouse, after a long day of exploring and driving we were happy for the warm tea to put us to bed!

We decided to get an early start on our hike to St. Gergeti Trinity Monastary, as we were planning to head back to Tbilisi in the afternoon. We had to hike across town and up the mountain, the total altitude  gain was  2500 m and as far as we could tell it was about 6k round trip (it would have been 12 if we had taken the road). Lynelle and I decided to mountain goat it (take shortcuts straight up the mountain), and made it up and down in about 3 hours. The hike was gorgeous, though a little snowy on the way down, which induced much slipping and sliding on my part as I did not have proper footwear. Two words to solve this problem: bum slide!

It was a beautiful experience and I cam down the mountain feeling much more centered than when I walked up it!






Cows in the Villiage

Caucasus Moutains!





Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Life Lessons with George in Georgia

I often find that when I travel, the adventure is not about what you saw or did. Rather, it is about the people you connected with while you found adventure.

Lynelle and I had awoken early, like 8 am, to explore Tbilisi one morning (a mistake - as there was almost nothing open before 10). After wandering through the streets and managing to find coffee and breakfast, we had the brilliant idea to find a bottle of wine, grab some cheese and cold snacks and bring them up the funicular with us to have a picnic at Narikala Fortress. So, we stopped in a trendy looking wine shop asked to taste a few different types of wine. Boy, did we NOT know WHAT we were getting ourselves into...


George (a lot of men are named George in Georgia, apparently) acquiesced to our request and ensured that we were well and truly acquainted with his favorite types of wine. He acquainted us with 'wine meditation' as being one of the most important activities in Georgian culture. "In order to really meditate...you must drink lots of wine." Done and dusted! I think I will put that on my resume, wine meditator. It has a nice ring to it.


"As you wish, when you wish, how you wish"
 - George, referring to Georgian Hospitality 


Georgian hospitality was really in play here, he sat us down and kept the refills coming - letting us sample many of the different types of wine that he had to offer in his shop, he also ensured that we tried CHACHA - a liqueur distilled from grapes that is popular in Georgia. Between shots of CHACHA and toasting our spirits, he shared his views on the Georgian people and his beautiful country. He had nothing but love for his homeland and it was infectious to say the least. He truly belived that love is the religion in Georgia, that it matters not where or how you pray, but what matters most is that you are Georgian, and you love each other. A day well wasted, and an experience I wont forget.

"Trust me, You can dance"
-Chacha


George

Friday, 20 March 2015

A Wrap on 24

24 was a fantastic year for me. I am not one to toot my own horn, but I found direction this year, and is finally feel like I am on track with where I would like to be moving. 

I ate some really amazing food, in many amazing places with a few amazing people. 

I've finally figured out this whole eating well thing. As in not dieting, but as in eating a balanced diet, learning to understand portion sizes, and realizing it's okay to treat yourself sometimes. 

I found yoga. I'm not a yogi by any standards and I am certainly a raw beginner, but I've come to enjoy testing my strength and learning to focus only on my body. 

I have a work-out routine that I enjoy. I have learned to enjoy running. Rather than dreading every moment on the tread mill. Again, raw beginner, but I have seen real progress in my endurance and couldnt be happier. I feel strong from lifting weights. Let me tell you, strong feels good. Mentally and physically I feel strong. 

Moving to such an isolated location has really helped me focus on myself, finally give myself the time I deserved. As a result, I have created habits that I hope will, last a life-time, figured out what I want from my life and still been able to indulge in the occasional Netflix binge watching session.

I have been busy this year, but I have been busy for myself. That is a huge difference to being busy for no good reason. 

Does this mean I am happy and carefree every day? Absolutely not. But, it does mean that I have learned to accept what I cannot change, and I am learning to let things go. Overall, I am generally happier. 

I am writing this from the Baku Airport as I wait for my flight to Tbilisi, airports are a wonderful time for self reflection -as we know there isn't much else to do. Last year, I was Dubai celebrating my birthday  with an amazing group of friends, this year I will explore a new country with two close friends. Two very different experiences but both travel related. I wonder if it will be any indication for a good year. 

I can't wait to see what 25 holds for me! 

Monday, 9 March 2015

Women's Day in Kazakhstan

Source: Google Images
The Royal Treatment

International women's day is recognized world wide as a day of empowerment for women.

Never have I ever been treated like such a princess as I have on women's day in Kazakhstan. They really go out of their way to make women feel special on this day - something that is rather lacking from their society in general.




We celebrated the day in a multitude of ways, the male students prepared a performance for the female students on the Friday in the auditorium and the male teachers did the same for the female teachers on Saturday. 

The men are ready to dance!
The men created many different skits and dances to show their appreciation for the female teachers at the school. It was refreshing to see them not taking themselves too seriously and enjoying a joke or two at our expense. They put together a raffle for the female teachers as well. Note that they were raffling off household items...hmm gifts that give more work for the women to do! I won a vacuum cleaner - woohoo!


In addition to two hours of entertainment by the lovely male staff we were each treated to a long-stemmed rose; the longest roses I have ever been given.

Welcoming the Women with Roses
I appreciated that they welcomed all of the female staff, from the teachers to the teaching assistants, the chefs and the cleaning women. They do a really wonderful job of making sure each and every woman in the school feels treasured on this day.

It is amazing to see the men coming together to celebrate women. From Friday night to Sunday morning the flower shops were insanely busy, filled with men purchasing flowers for the women in their lives. They must make a killing in March!

Happy Women's Day to all my female readers!


To me women's day is about self-empowerment. So, own the day ladies, be strong, be happy and be healthy. Love yourself and your sex. United we can do amazing things. 


Source: Google Images

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Flash Back to Sri Lanka: These are a few of my favorite things


View from our room!

Location: Hikkaduwa Beach
Hotel: Citrus Hikkaduwa

The American and I did Sri Lanka on a really strict budget, but still managed to have a fantastic time. The water was beautiful, even though the waves could get quite rough, the beach seemed endless, the food was mouth watering and the people were absolutely beautiful. 
Our daily budget was about 15 dollars each, and we made that last for meals and fun! Definitely and easy budget location.




1. Turtle Hatchery
SO MANY BABY TURTLES

Seriously. Best time every, you get to hold little baby one-day old turtles in your hands. Have you seem anything cuter than a itsy-bitsy baby turtle? No, the correct answer is that you have not. The money that you pay to see the turtles, which is very small, goes to running the facility and keeping their rescues, turtles who have lost a fin, safe and happy. I believe that if you volunteer your time you can help them release the turtles to the ocean and watch births in the evening with them for free. You can take all the photos you like and they are happy to take them for you!




2. Galle Fort
Galle Fort

Now, Galle was beautiful, you drive down the coast from Hikkaduwa to get there, and the drive itself is absolutely beautiful, you see tons of coast, beautiful beaches and palm-trees lining the roads, stunning. We rode down in a Tuk-Tuk which was a bit like taking your life into your hands, but an experience for the books none the less. Walking along the old dutch fort is amazing, and you can go for hours, it is absolutely massive. I do wish that there had been more information about the fort, as a history buff, I love to read about the places I visit. I really didn't do enough reading before we arrived (my fault) and unfortunately there were no signs posted, so we wandered around the very cool ruins all morning without knowing a thing about them.


3. Our Tuk-Tuk Driver (and the adventures he took us on)

The American and I lucked out big time with our Tuk-Tuk man, he knew the area well, took us everywhere we wanted to go, and asked for a fair price. He also brought us to a few places that we would not have known about, they were so out of the way, there was a moon-stone mine, a lagoon, and a silk factory in addition to some beautiful monuments to honor the dead from the Tsunami a few years before our stay. The people in general in Sri Lanka are among the most welcoming I have ever met - everyone has a kind smile and a wave for you, and all are very helpful.

Thunderstorm!!!!
4. Thunderstorms.
While I know this is totally un-predictable, and based on the weather patterns, I loved watching the thunderstorms roll. We were in Sri Lanka in mid-April, and catching the tail end of the dry season and the beginning of the wet season. There is a simple beauty in listening to the thunder crack, and seeing the lighting strike. The American and I had a covered balcony with an ocean-view, so we were quite happy to sit and watch. They never lasted long, but there were one of the most memorable parts of the trip.


5. The Moon-Stone Mine
This was one of the random experiences that our Tuk-Tuk diver took us on, and I could not have been more delighted with it. While, I am sure that it was a ploy for us to buy something so he could get some commission off it, the people were not pushy about asking us to purchase anything. They took us on a tour of the property and actually encouraged me to jump in the mine-water and search for moon-stones, luckily I was wearing a bathing suit underneath my t-shirt, so I hopped right in to The American's surprise. Not sure that I found any moon-stones but it was well worth it, for now I can say I went to Sri Lanka and worked in a mine (if only for a short time).



My favorite part of the day was always the sunsets, they were absolutely stunning. It was beautiful to see people just stop what they were doing to admire it, and carry on as soon as it dipped behind the ocean. I will certainly go back and explore more of such a beautiful country.


Morning Coffee is always essential - beautiful location for breakfast!



Colourful Streets!

Fire dancers at the hotel

Our stomping ground for the week,


Galle Fort


Taking a break!
Our Tuk-Tuk Driver

Memorial

Baby Turtles!


Good-Bye Sun

Simple is Beautiful

Colours, colours everywhere


Friday, 20 February 2015

50 Things I want to do, before I Turn 50...

I was looking at my iPod the other day, searching through some random notes that were held on it, and I came across one that I created throughout High School and University. I made a simple list of things that I want to do before I turn 50. 

Reading my list, I am amazed to see how many of the simple goals I set for myself, I still want to accomplish. Most of them are travel related, I clearly have had the travel bug in my bones for a while, and if my current mood (of the last 3 years) is any indication, it is more like a virus that has overtaken my body and not going anywhere any time soon.

The adventures I have planned for myself are plentiful, especially those related to nature. I haven’t spent enough time hiking in recent years, it is something that I hope to do more of, maybe finding this list will help push me back into it.

I am baffled, clearly my desire to travel hasn't changed but the places I have put importance on have.  I don’t think I had ever thought about travelling in the Middle East at the time of making the list, now  - I can’t imagine spending those two years anywhere else, or being anywhere but my current home of Kazakhstan (except, maybe, on a beach…). Central Asia certainly never crossed my mind as an interesting place to be, I was wrong.

Here is the list, if you’d like to have a wee looksie at what I thought really mattered between the ages of 16 and 20. I will try to find photos of the relevant, accomplished items to add a bit of colour to the post! Enjoy! 


1. Graduate University
     University of Alberta, Faculty of Education, 2008.
2. Fall in love 
    More than once, followed by the dreadful accompanying heartbreak.
3. Have a family

4. Climb Kilimanjaro
5. See the Angkor watt
6. Backpack through Europe
      Twice! Summer of 2008 and Summer of 2014
      Countries: France, Austria, Germany, Italy, Greece, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic 
7. Go on an African Safari 
8. Hike the West Coast Trail
9. Paddle down the Mackenzie
10. Teach overseas for a year  
      Kuwait for Two, Currently in Kazakhstan Teaching
11. Hike the East Coast Trail

12. See the northern lights, north of 45
13. Go on an Alaskan cruise
14. Spend Mardi-Gras in New Orleans
15. Go to Harry Potter World  
16. Spend a summer reading on a beach
17. Adopt a dog
18. See a Performance at the Sydney Opera House 
          Idina Menzel, July 2013
19. Hike in Argentina
2o. Eat sushi in Japan
21. Visit Bali 
          June 2013: What an adventure it was, between hiking volcanoes, swimming in the most                                          beautiful waters and having my heart broken.
22. Write a novel
23. Paint a sunset
24. Ride an elephant in Thailand
       February 2013 - my first trip to South East Asia, and part of it was my first trip alone.
25. Walk through the History I have Studied  

26. Go to Georgia - both, just because
27. Learn a new language, and become fluent
28. Pick up the violin again - seriously
29. Get A Masters
30. Hike Machu Pecchu
31. Spend a summer working with my hands
32. Spend St.Patrick’s Day in Ireland
33. Swim with dolphins
34. Ride a motor bike in Vietnam
35. Eat pizza in Italy 
          So. Much. Pizza. July 2012
36. Live in Paris for a year...or more
37. Visit the Galápagos Islands
38. Take a dip in the Antarctic sea
39. Sing Oh Canada at Vimy Ridge 
           I think I might have added this to the list after completing it, but it was an honor and a                          privilege, July 2012
40. Walk along the Great Wall of China 
            As far as we could go, what a stunning experience. The thing that sticks out in my memory                 the most was the many Chinese people taking our pictures, Girls Choir Tour, 2007.
41. Take the Trans-Siberian Railway
42. Walk down Chili
43. Swim with a whale shark
44. See the Terra Cotta Soldiers 
          Stunning. July 2007
45. Spend a month without technology
46. Learn to play the guitar
47. Open a baking business
48. Buy, and immediately drink a really good bottle of wine
49. Visit the North Pole
50. Volunteer my skills in a meaningful way


* I will update this post as I accomplish more goals, but I am not using this as a list to live but, so whatever happens, happens. Going with the flow has led me to some great places so far, and I plan on keeping with that plan.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Fitness Goals!

Living abroad, it is really quite easy to fall into bad habits, especially when you first arrive in a new location. You are meeting new people, getting acquainted with your new city and of course, trying out new places to wine and dine.

I have always fluctuated in my habits of working out and eating right, and then being very naughty - this has been a constant battle for me. Moving to Kazakhstan, however has proven to have given me a renewed interest in changing my lifestyle to be generally healthier.

After a brief 'settling-in' period of about three weeks, I signed up with a gym (Atyrau Fitness) and started my journey to a healthier life, and towards my weight-loss goals. Gypsy Lady and I help keep each other on track with eating, and ensuring that we are working out, which has been super helpful. I am down 10kg from when I moved to Kazakhstan and have been feeling great. The progress I am making isn't as quick as I would like it to be, but I am trying to find a lifestyle that I can maintain for the rest of my life. Crash dieting doesn't work for me - I know this, so I am taking it slow and finding what will work and is sustainable for me.

Atyrau Fitness is a wonderful center, they have classes, excellent equipment and a number of trainers that are always around to ensure that you are doing activities correctly to avoid injury. When you sign up, you also get one free personal training session, they listen to what you want and create a program that will help you achieve your goals.

After Christmas, Gypsy Lady, Flower girl and I have agreed to sign up for the Almaty Marathon! I will be running the 10K, Gypsy Lady will be running the Half-Marathon and Flower Girl will be running the full Marathon.

This is my first running race/event that I have taken part in, and needless to say that I am very nervous. In a lot of ways, though, training for the 10K has been more of a mental exercise than a physical one. I think physically I will be ready by April 26th but mentally, I am terrified. I have only been able to run on a treadmill thus far, and have rarely run outside in the past. It is winter deep-freeze right now, so there isn't much I can do about running outside. I am hoping for warmer weather soon, so that I can start practicing!

Right now, I am averaging about 4-5k per workout and I am feeling good about that!

Send some positive vibes my way!

If you are living in Atyrau and looking for a gym, I encourage you to try out Atyrau Fitness!
Here is their wesite: http://atyraufitness.com/   It is in russian, but Chrome does a good job of translating the most important information!






Wednesday, 14 January 2015

What Was Once Gone Will Come Back Again

Aralsk & The Aral Sea

There are three very separate phases to the adventure we embarked upon to visit the Aral Sea, three phases if you will. The four days we spent travelling and exploring can only be described as eye-opening. 

Phase One: The Train

Aside from the very crammed and sweaty train experience in Morocco last year, I genuinely enjoy travelling by train. It is a wonderful way to see the landscapes change, see parts of the country that you may not get to see otherwise, and a good way to talk to locals. When Gypsy Lady and I were planning this impromptu long weekend, the thought of an 18 hour train ride immediatly made me cringe. 18 hours, in a cabin with the same four people...let me just say that it wasn't my idea of heaven - Flower Girl and The Playwright were joining on our adventure. However, I must say that I very much enjoyed the long trip with my travelling companions. The time, on both journeys, flew by. We snacked, chatted, read and wrote our way through the Steppe. Believe me when I say that it was hardly worth looking out the window, the landscape did not change one iota in the 500 miles we travelled. However, I did take some photos for your viewing pleasure. 

The two train rides were very different experiences. On the way to Aralsk we had a cabin for the four of us, this I believe is first class on some trains and second class on some others. While it was nice to have our own space and a door that locked, we felt very secluded from the rest of the people on the train. It did not feel like a genuine experience.

On the way back to Atyrau, we were only able to score tickets for a "third class" cabin. These are not so much cabins as they are community cars. There are no doors, no private areas, and there are a ton of people - this felt much more like a gathering of a community. I must say that I prefer travelling as a community, you get the feeling of authenticity rather than a cold, stale experience. We met many people, some who we could communicate with and others who exchanged nods and smiles.

Phase Two: The Town

Aralsk, a small town that used to be a bustling port on the Aral Sea. Due to the draining of the Aral Sea, Aralsk doesn't even come close to be a port town any longer - the nearest coastline is 70 KM away. Can you imagine that? In the span of about 30 years the town has transformed from a bustling port with a steady economy from the fishing and canning industries, to a down on the verge of economic despair. You can visibly see that there isn't much economic activity in the town, there is only one small market where you see people doing their weekly produce and meat shopping - most of Kazakhstan uses markets rather than grocery stores as we know them. 

There are only two hotels that are accessible to tourists coming into the town, and only one we could find the phone number for...Hotel Aralsk. We were warned ahead of time that the locals are not the friendliest towards tourists as they believe that we are finding amusement in their despair. Can you blame them? I certainly do not.*

The Hotel was...a disaster. We had phoned ahead to reserve two 'luxury rooms' (rooms with a shower), the woman on the phone spoke with one of my local colleagues so we were sure that they understood what we needed. Those of you who know me, know that I am a planner. I like to have everything, or at least a rough outline of everything sorted out before I arrive somewhere. So when we arrived at 5 AM to find a disgruntled receptionist repeating "nis nayo" (Russian for I don't know) regarding any information about our reservation...I became a bit stroppy, eventually we were sorted out withe one 'lux' room for the four of us to share - read: one bed. It became immediately apparent that we were not so welcome in this town, and the animosity was visible at the surface with some of the hotel staff (read: one grumpy grandma). Among other issues to colour our experience of the town were a bloody sheet, an argument to get more blankets to use as sleeping mats, and a shower that only produced boiling water.  All we could do was laugh and go with it -- there is no sense in getting tangled up into a ball of nerves over such things which are out of our control. Once we started laughing with the whole thing, things brightened up!


Phase Three: The Landscape

I found an NGO online that is working with the World Bank in the construction and maintence of a dam to bring back the water to the Aral Sea that provides guided, english speaking, eco-tours through the area. As none of us speak Kazkah and have limited ability with Russian, we thought it best to book the tour to ensure that we could see all the points of interest along the way and learn a little something about the restoration along the way. 

The tour was broken into 2 days  - on the first we drove out to the Ship Graveyard, through the dried bed of the Aral Sea and visited the local museum.
Such a pretty blue!
Ship in the Desert
I love the graffiti on this one!










Day two was spent driving out to the Dam-site, Fishing factory and wandering around the banks of the Aral Sea (where the water remains). 

The Dam!
While the ships in the desert were certainly a site to see, haunting, my favorite portion of the trip was spend wandering the banks and the dam of the replenished Aral Sea. 

The Aral Sea


Beautifully Desolate is the only way I can describe the landscape. The only noise comes from the dam. Fishermen were putting their small boats into the sea where it had yet to ice over. The lapping of the sea under the ice that started to form along the bank. The crunch of the frozen grass under our feet. 





All along the way, you could see that people in the smaller towns and villages live a much simpler existence, one that is uncluttered by the sounds and worries of the city, in such a harsh landscape. I don't imagine that such an existence is easy, and I have romanticized it in my mind as being free of city-dweller stresses. To live such a life takes great strength and perseverance, I am floored by these people. 


*While it is true, tourists flock to the town to see the "Ship Graveyard" and to see the environmental degradation of the shrunken Aral Sea, my group also went to learn about the rehabilitation of the area. 
Close Up of the Dam

Boats beached for the Winter












Saturday, 10 January 2015

Writing Resolution

I know, I know. It has been ages since I have posted. In the past, I felt that all my posts needed to witty, or have a punch line, have something happen that was extra-funny to warrant posting for my lovely readers to read. Now, this has led to a writers-block of sorts, one that has been self-imposed in combination with a lack of motivation.

Well, I am giving myself a writing-attitude adjustment.

 I don't really go for new year's resolutions, because I think that if you really want to do or change something, you will just do it but I am making an exception this year. I am keeping it simple and attainable though...I will write more.

Writing used to be a cathartic process for me. When I fist started teaching internationally, writing in my journal helped me chronical what was happening, but also process it, helped me to understand what I was feeling. In my second year in Kuwait, it felt more like a chore, and every time I looked at the last time I posted, I felt a pang of guilt for not posting sooner. I felt that I was letting my readers down by not posting, and I didn't like that feeling. So, instead of posting I would ignore my blog. Out of sight, out of mind, right? And my Journal? Forget that...it took me months to catch up on my summer travels and subsequently was always behind writing about other travels. It felt like something I was forcing myself to do, because for a little unpleasantness now I will thank myself in years to come.

I enjoy writing, so why haven't I been writing? I think because I want to get back to things I want to write about, not that I think I should write about.

That being said, I love having conversations, and I feel like a good way to get back to enjoying writing would be for me to have conversations with my lovely readers.

 So now I am asking a favor of you, please send me questions that you would like answered, either about life in Kuwait or Life in Kazakhstan, traveling in general or anything really.

Please e-mail me or comment questions or topics. Help me keep my resolution. I look forward to hearing from you.