What do you collect? Coins, stamps, ticket stubs, bookmarks, match boxes, bar coasters or hotel toiletries? I collect pins, for years now. Spent the Saturday morning cleaning up my collections. Like a river breaching it’s bank, memories poured in uncontrollably.
These remind of my secondary school days. It was not just all books and no play. I involved in various co-curriculums activities back then. The after school afternoons and weekends spent organizing fundraising dinner, participating in general knowledge competition, marching under the blazing sun…
These bring me back to my 3 years in Calgary for university. I went to Calgary in fall 1998 to start my third year of my engineering degree. I remembered doing very well in my first semester, but flopping, not failing though, miserably in the next. I took a year off later to pursue an internship program and earned shit load of money (for a student) and lived a lavish life (for a student). Oh, I met her here in Calgary.
These are some that I picked up along the road while traveling. Aside from taking tones of pictures, I bought these souvenir pins. These flash back my first backpacking trip to Thailand back in 1997. They also tell stories about my trial and tribulations roaming around in Central and South America.
These are collected during my trip to Maritime Canada. I could clearly recall that rainy day as I touched down at Halifax. I walked in the rain around town sightseeing. Then there were the beautiful kind folks that I met in Charlottetown. Oh the drive along the coast of Cape Breton Island was fun filled and full of adventures: camping illegally along the way.
These prompt memories of my trans-Canada journey aboard a train for a month. I set off from Edmonton, Alberta, heading east all the way to Quebec City, Quebec. Then I made a U-turn moving westward towards Vancouver, British Columbia, meeting my parents there. When the train stopped at Jasper, I remembered racing towards a laundry with a bunch of fellow travelers, paying to take a shower. We went 4 days without a shower on the train. When the water hit my body, it felt almost as good as sex.
These are about Quebec, the French speaking province in Canada. It’s strange yet unique, like going into another country, within a country. I love the French Canadians for their deep appreciation for art. There are amazing sculptures and beautiful murals and wonderful galleries everywhere in Montreal and Quebec City. More so, the zest for life of the Quebecois is infectious. Once their aloofness shells were broken, I could feel their live-life-NOW! attitude, enjoying a good cuppa at a café, cracking open a bottle of wine early in the evening, even walking a lot slower. So when in Quebec, do as the Quebecois do.
Not counting transiting in LA and Dallas, the two places I’ve been to in the States are Washington DC and Chicago. I never had a strong desire to travel to the States but both trips were indeed very pleasant experiences. They were all-paid-for trips. Oh, from what I’ve observed, yes, there are a lot of fat people in the States, and no, not all Yanks are stupid and ignorant.
I always want to travel around Europe. So far the only place I ever set foot in that continent is Stavager, Norway. I got a trip there 2 years ago for work. Like any other Scandinavian countries, it's a very expensive place. I flew into Amsterdam but that doesn't count as I only saw the airport, transitting. These are the 2 pins I bought in Stavanger.
These are some of the pins given by friends and family. Knowing I collect pins, they were kind enough to think of me during their trips by getting me these pins. They speak volumes of our friendships. I cherish these big time.
While some remind me of the places I’ve been to, these count for the people I met. Among others are the crazy cross-country skiing brothers, A and G from Yukon; the pretty Japanese lady J who volunteered for the Girl Guide; the kind, generous, soft spoken and artistic Pommie E that I befriended volunteering in Belize. These pins are the sweet reminder of the friendships we built.
These serve as the testimonials of the crazy things that I’ve done: rolling down a double black diamond course on my first try at alpine skiing; yee-haw-ing at the Calgary Stampede, the greatest outdoors show on earth; polar bear dipping on the new year’s day of the new millennium for fundraising (got a t-shirt for that too); bungee jumping in Bali; pub crawling in Belize City; partying on the street of Quito after the Ecuadorian football team made it into the 2002 FIFA World Cup final; diving at the Blue Hole; spending the night (again illegally) atop a Mayan pyramid at Caracol, Belize; sneaking into Tikal, Guatemala on a fake visa.
Memories, so many memories. Now snap out of it and resume cleaning.