13 things I have learned over 13 flights in 5 weeks

  1. Push the bounds of Hand Luggage
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    Everyone has these mini wheelie dealie bags these days. They are massive and some are so crammed there is no way they fit in the overhead bins or under the seat in front of you (they will check it for free at the gate if they are anticipating too much hand luggage in the cabin). I feel like an idiot with just my handbag/laptop bag especially when Air Asia wants to charge me $20Aud per extra kilo in my suitcase. Excuse me for having a reasonable amount of hand luggage and an unreasonable amount of regular luggage.

 

  1. If you’re not first – you’re last aka Queue up to get on the plane
    Passengers line up and wait for a security check during morning rush hour at Tiantongyuan North Station in Beijing
    No hear me out – I used to hate those idiots who would line up to get on the plane they would be trapped in for 5 or 11 or 16 hours FIRST. And then I noticed that the above (massive amounts of hang luggage being brought into the cabin) began to happen. Now if I want to defend my leg room and not put my bag in an overhead bin way over on the other side of the plane – you’re damn right I’m in line – me and all the other sheeple.

 

  1. Neck pillows do not work
    Seriously – who invented this garbage? Designed to make you look like a Knob and as comfortable as having a ring of foam around your neck – it looks comfortable – more so than your head slumping forward and jerking up as you drool on your lapel like an oozing starfish – but news flash – it isn’t.

 

  1. People LOVE THEM some tomato juice
    Ew – hey guys – wtf is going on with that. They’ve got your apple and orange juice there, a wide selection of free alcohol and all the soft drink your heart could desire, good old H20 in spades – and you’re all guzzling away at the spicy blood of the most confused fruit I’ve ever met (and you should meet my family). No. Please stop. You are revolting.

 

  1. No but seriously drink water
    After Dad’s Deep Vein Thrombosis last year and the reflection looking back at me in the mirror, that of a yellow skinned harpy – I have realized that if drinking water means my blood wont clot in my limbs with the threat of breaking off and murdering me, than yah. H20 me up son. Water is one of those things that everyone could drink more of and its freeeeee (unless you’re in Bali or Asia where you have to buy bottled lest you tempt the wrath of the Bali Belly)

 

  1. Possession is 9/10s
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    If you get so lucky as to fly a less busy flight and there is a seat/multiple seats around you available, you have to think fast. Long haul – the difference of having a little extra space versus keeping your arms and legs inside a couple of arm rests is a game changer. So everyone is on the look out for more territory to invade. Sit in the middle seat and put your stinky feet on the outside chair – nonchalantly reading a book and signaling by your possession that these SEATS ARE MINE BITCH.

 

  1. Turbulence makes you realize how small you are
    Especially with nothing to grip except a moveable arm rest and a seat belt the only thing holding you down, to a chair connected to an aircraft that as far as I can see is working by engineering and magic.
  1. 16 hours is 16 hours
    Whether you sleep, read, watch a movie or stare out the window – there is no way to escape the waiting on an aircraft. People always try to give you advice like – oh take some Nyquil and have a rum and coke and boom you’ll be flying over Asia before you know it. Incorrect. Even if you fall asleep or watch two movies back to back you’ll think – oh man we must be almost there you’ll somehow check the flight tracker and realize your little plane hasn’t even left the continent. GRRRRR!!!!!

 

  1. There is always, always, a screaming baby

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    I’m thinking that like the drink carts the Flight attendants stock, and the cross checks of doors they do before we take off, one of the crew, maybe the head flight attendant is like “now hold on a second, who has got the screaming child? And have we given it coffee? Oh okay good, because we wouldn’t want there to be one moment of peace on this over night flight.” I realize as a childless person, and a former screaming, internationally travel baby myself that I have very little wiggle room here for criticism… but 13 flights later and EVERY SINGLE time, I’m not crazy. There is a conspiracy. Pass me my tinfoil hat.

 

  1. There is also always, always, a farty/wheezy/coughing old man
    And he perfumes the air around him with his natural fragrance. 10 points if he is in the seat directly in front or beside you and you fear for your nose/health. *Shudder*
  1. I don’t know what I am eating right now
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    The most memorable meal on a plane that I ever had was the Hong Kong to Seoul Korea flight I took as I tried to make my way down to Australia for University. I flew Korean Airlines and dinner was a boiling hot bowl of noodle soup (ohkay I can have a bowl of hot water but I can’t have my nail file – but of course) and a shrink wrapped boiled egg… Memorable because the food was so immaculately presented and also because I couldn’t help thinking that the boiling hot water was kind of crazy.

    But at least I knew what I was eating! Over the last few Air Nippon (Japanese airline) flights I have taken, I have been given little packages of things I cannot identify or things pretending to be other things. Oh cool, this is clearly some sort of dessertOHMYGODNOW it is a creamy mayonnaise infested potato salad with fish eggs. Barf.

  1. So much of the planet is uninhibited
    I love to fly in daylight hours and look over the patchwork of the farmlands and see in layout of the world below. But travelling by night is something special too as you reach a cluster of lights that mark a city, the highways, the homes, and then you come upon nothing again. The vast blackness of the empty, and even in the strong moonlight you cannot tell if the spreading darkness is Ocean or Land.
  1. It is never enough
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    Whether you go for 5 days, 5 weeks or 5 months – the travel is never enough. In the moment on that beach in Thailand, or in the Mountains in Utah – you are taking for grated the beauty around you. You become immune to things when you travel, take things for granted – and it isn’t until you are on the way home that you realize it will never be enough, those moments with faraway family or drinking cocktails on a steamy rooftop.

    If home is where the heart is – then my home is on an airplane – travelling to my next adventure.

    Follow me on instagram: @ohparisimo for adventures

Saying Goodbye to “Home”

Earth boy - South America

When people ask me where I’m from, I can’t help it. I take a deep breath in, and I roll my eyes slightly.

Where am I from?

What a pointless question.

I think people ask it because I have a hard-to-place accent. I think people ask it, because they are trying to put you in a box in their mind. I think people are trying to categorize you. Do the places we are “from” define who we are? I suppose in some ways they do. Where you hail from is a cultural touchstone, a window into the type of person you might be.

Canadians and Americans are similar but different. If you are from Toronto, you are different from someone who is from Montreal or Vancouver. If you are an Australian, people generally assume you are friendly and outgoing. If you are Irish, you like the drink and you can get a bit crazy. Am I stereotyping? Stop me if you disagree. Are people asking you where you are from to hint at who you are? What your roots or heritage might reveal?

There are endless ways we divide ourselves, label ourselves, identify ourselves. In Toronto, I’ve heard people tell they are “from” a specific suburb. Like the area within the city, within the provence, within the country, might help signify more about them.

So where am I from?

I tell people, short answer form, that I am from Australia. I have the (slight) accent, I have the passport, I have the birth certificate. When people ask me where in Australia I am from, I tell them Sydney, because it is the place in Australia I lived most recently (for University) and spent the most years.

In reality, I was born in Perth, on the West Coast, where my father now lives, and where my cousins, Aunts, Uncles and Grandmother have always lived. I think I have spent a total of 6 months in that part of the world in over 25 years.

My mother is a New Zealand citizen. Am I from New Zealand? No. I have never been there and she left when she was 7.

Where am I from?

I spent the greater part of my life in Asia. If I told you I was from Hong Kong, you would laugh in my face (it has happened, people have done a double take and then asked me seriously… “Are you Chinese?”). I am a blonde haired, green eyed, Caucasian woman. My brother is a 6″1 hairy, caucasian giant. He was born in Hong Kong. Where is he from?

My other brother 6″3 currently blonde (or pink) haired (I think) was born in Kuala Lumper. Is he from Malaysia?

I remember a childhood of sweaty hot, monsoony nights. Street food and night markets, grinning faces that looked very different from mine, and conversations all around me in languages that I couldn’t understand.

My Mother has packed up her apartment in Hong Kong, and plans to move to Thailand this month. I am excited for her, for her new adventure. After a decade and a half in the hustling, bustling Fragrant Harbour, I know she is going to enjoy the peace and tranquility of Thailand. I know that she is chasing her dreams, and entering the next chapter of her life. With three fully grown children and another forty years in her, she has definitely got the right idea, jumping into the next adventure.

But a part of me mourns.

For someone who is a self-proclaimed Expat Brat, who moved to Canada without a backwards glance, Hong Kong was in many ways my “Home.” As culturally confused as my family and friends are, Hong Kong is a backdrop where we can all fit in.

Sorry to sound like I’m excluding, but you wouldn’t get it unless you’d grown up there, or lived in another major Expat City, (Kuala Lumper, Shanghai, Singapore, Dubai, Seoul…)

And Hong Kong will always be there. My Mothers departure does not mark the end of the existence of that city. It is simply the last, torn out root of that chapter of my life. I can always still go there, I will always have friends there. I just won’t go “Home” to Hong Kong when I visit my parents.

My parents will be in their chosen cities, and I will be in mine.

Hong Kong is our central location, geographically a middle ground, or halfway house, for my family which is spread out across the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. And while Thailand is close by, it does not hold any of the memories for my family. It will not feel like “Home” for me. Perhaps it will for my brothers who spent a year at Boarding School there. I don’t know. Even between the siblings, with only five years between the youngest and oldest, there is a vast ocean of experiences and childhood memories.

Where am I from?

Home is a word. It embodies a feeling. It cannot be one place because if you asked someone in Cairo where home was, and asked someone in Chicago the same question, both people would point to different spots on the map. It is not a charted destination. It is not physical. Maybe that is why I have always found the concept so confusing. Maybe that is why I think about it more deeply than those who ask:

Where are you from?

 

 

Animals I would be better at being than a human

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7. An Elephant
Because: Elephants are wise and big and nobody can really fuck with them (except evil poachers). They have great family lives (have you SEEN the footage of the baby elephant being reunited with its mum? TEAR JERKER!) I love Elephants so much. They are great. No more explanation needed.

6. A Dog
Because: Dogs are great and terribly excitable things. The dog downstairs is annoying me right now by crying its little heart out (they are crate training him) but literally everything in this dogs life is the best and most exciting thing ever. Toy?! THE BEST! Go outside for a pee? THE BEST! Annoy the cat?!? THE BEST. You get the idea. I’d love to have that level of energy to be honest. And to be so generally joyful and optimistic

5. An Eagle
Because: A) I would like to fly and B) I would like to be considered deadly (I think we can safely assume small critters are bat-shit-terrified of Eagles). But mainly the flying thing. Also if I was an American eagle that would be cool because I’d be American (and could therefore just go and live in New York…although I suppose I wouldn’t want to if I was an eagle) and also because then I’d be all revered and stuff. And lets be honest…who doesn’t want that?

4. A Tiger
Because: DUH. Tigers are epic. If you don’t think Tigers are cool, you are probably just some bitter creature that is afraid of being eaten. Or had a relative eaten. Not only are Tigers gloriously beautiful, they are aggressive cranky beasts that people fear and respect (which I would be okay with) and they can pretty much do whatever they want. Oh you’re in a jungle? That’s okay, you are the scariest thing out there (Except monkeys if there are some in the jungle where you are. But I am biased. I just don’t like monkeys) and you can do what you want.

3. A Pig
Because: Pigs seem like very happy creatures. Lets move away from the sadness of the fact that pigs become bacon (which I love) and the hilarity of this as my third choice considering I am now dating my lovely Jewish boyfriend (who is so not kosher) and focus instead on how awesome pigs are. They are pretty awesome! They are cute and squeaky and they get to roll around in mud a lot (duh, funnest thing ever). Pigs are smart and funny, two things I try to be in my daily life, but wouldn’t it be cooler if I was smart and funny AND a pig. Yes I think so.

Side Note: When I was in year 11 I was a prefect and we went on a leadership training week in Thailand at a ridiculously amazing boarding school in Chang Mai. We did fancy seminars and bonding sessions. During one seminar, I will never forget the exercise where we had to describe the person on our left as an animal. To my right was Graham, a chinese guy (don’t forget I went to School in Hong Kong, and although it was the Australian International School of Hong Kong, we had a lot of Hong Kong, first language Cantonese students) who was very sweet and who I was friends with. You had to stand up in front of everyone and say why you thought this person was like the animal you had chosen. Graham stood up and told everyone (in his not perfect english) that I most reminded him of a pig. Cue snorts from all the western kids, and a mortified look from me. Graham went on to describe the pig as it is depicted in the Chinese Astrology world, something along these lines (I just hit up google)

Pigs are models of sincerity, purity, tolerance, and honor. When you first meet them, Pigs seem too good to be true. They are careful and caring, obliging and chivalrous. Put your trust in him, he won’t let you down and he will never try to. The Pigs simply want to do everything right.

Pigs are the people everyone admires most.

It was sweet, but I’ll never forget that awkward first moment, before the culture clash became so obvious.

2. A Dolphin
Because: Dolphins are the class clown of the sea. Everybody loves them! (Except the Japanese who maybe love them too much in a rough way, like when a little kid pats its pet too hard…oh no wait, whales, I’m thinking whales. My bad). Dolphins are badass. They can do tricks, they’re smart…they’re one of the only animals I know of, apart from humans, that participate in gang-rape (…wow this bit got a bit depressing) um…getting back on track. Dolphins are cool. They get to swim all the time (I’m down for that) and they make cute squeaking noises all the time which are adorable. How come whenever I talk too much people don’t make awwww faces at me?

1. A Cat.
Because? My two favourite things are lying stretched out in the sun and looking adorable. If I was a cat I could post so many videos of myself online and get all the youtube love (and hate, but those youtube trolls are never really that mean to cats). I could also get really fat and still be cute. Okay I think I’d get over shitting in a box pretty quickly, but hey, I’ve seen cats (on youtube) using a toilet. I’ve also seen cats using forks, playing the keyboard and talking. I think this could really work out for me lifestyle-wise.

Have you caught onto the trend I just realized? I basically want to be either powerful and feared, or cute and adorable.

Huh. Well there you go. I don’t need to waste money on therapy. I have myself all figured out!