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I'm Shannon and I am applying for THE BEST JOB IN THE WORLD. I am an outgoing, self-motivated, funny girl who loves to travel. After graduating from the University of Toronto with a degree in Theatre and English, I lived in Australia for one year. During that time I spent 6 months living in the Northern Territory; three months in the mining town of Nhulunbuy on the Gulf of Carpenteria, one month in Darwin and two months in Alice Springs. I did spend some time in Queensland, I LOVED Townsville and Rockhampton and Great Kepple Island. I had the opportunity to dive the Great Barrier Reef and I learned to surf. I sailed the Whitsunday Islands and am KEENLY aware of what I will be missing out on if I don't get to experience Hamilton Island for myself. On this blog I will be writing about me, my past travel experiences and hopefully showing everyone why I am the best candidate for THE BEST JOB IN THE WORLD! If you would like to email me you can reach me at shannontheislandgirl@rogers.com If it takes me some time to respond to your email, it's just because I'm busy packing my bags! See you on the island!

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

South East Asia - Part One

A few years ago my friend Andrew was embarking on a ‘round the world’ trip for one year. Sadly, I didn’t have a year of my life to dedicate at the time but I did have 7 weeks. So, for 7 weeks Andrew and I travelled through South East Asia: Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Malaysia. I was nervous, to say the least, before I left on this trip. Although I was happy to be travelling in that part of the world, I was still nervous; nervous about the language barrier, nervous about being someplace so different to what I was used to; nervous about safety; nervous about not ever wanting to come back home. Nerves aside, I packed my bags and off I went.

I flew out of Toronto on New Years Eve day. The first thing I learned on this trip I learned before I even left my house; leaving on a big, long trip that soon after Christmas is not a good idea. In fact, it’s pretty stressful. But being on a plane over New Years was kind of fun. The employees on Japan Airlines did their best to keep everything festive. It’s impossible to know what time zone you’re in while in the air so at one point they handed out boxes with candies, New Year’s hats and noisemakers and that was New Years. I am not a New Years person so not having to worry about what I would be doing on that day was just fine by me.

The first stop on the trip was Bangkok. Andrew’s flight arrived just before mine so we were able to meet at the airport and try to find the hotel together. I had been doing some reading on the plane and was instantly terrified about arriving in Bangkok in the middle of the night. In one of my guide books I read that one of the scams that is often pulled at the airport is that an English speaking traveler will approach you to share a cab because you’re both going to the same hotel but they are just waiting to rob you. Before I had a chance to tell Andrew about this, (at this point I had emailed him enough about my fears and insecurities that he wouldn’t have been shocked at all that I had found something new to freak out about), this man who spoke English with a slight French Canadian accent was talking to us in the taxi line and, wouldn’t you know it, we were staying at the same hotel. Andrew agreed to the car share before he could see the look of terror on my face. I remember purposely bitting my nails in the cab for potential DNA testing if we went missing. (I had been watching too much CSI while packing. I couldn’t help myself). It wasn’t a scam. This man was in fact staying at the same hotel as us. He was lucky, his room was available. They had us booked for the next night and we were out of luck. Seeing as it was 3am this was not the best news in the world. We then had to try to find another guest house on the block that had room for us. After waking up two very tired looking women at two other guest houses we found a room, although we didn’t stay in that room long. The first thing I did when I got up in the morning was to break the faucet in the bathroom and get covered in freezing cold water gushing out the gaping hole in the wall. We changed rooms and I refused to turn on the tap after that.

My first day in Bangkok was glorious. It was everything I wanted and nothing I expected. Of course, because it was my first day in this new country, most of what I noticed manifested as lists of differences between my home, Toronto, and this new temporary home. The first thing that struck me was the smell of the city. I don’t notice that Toronto has a smell. I’m sure it does but it is not something that I am aware of. Bangkok was filled with smells, and it added such character to the city. It was wonderful and sometimes pungent all at the same time. The place I where I was most aware of scent was in the temples. The temples were probably my favourite part of South East Asia. It didn’t seem to matter which country I was in, the temples just blew me away. I’m not a religious person and so haven’t spent a great deal of time in churches, but who wouldn’t want to spend time in the temples of South East Asia? Everything about them is vibrant and detailed. The gilded Buddha’s of Thailand, the offerings of fruit and money to the ancestors in Vietnam, each temple offered new and wonderful experiences. Every temple was perfumed with incense. It was sweet, fragrant, and memorable. After I returned home to Toronto I heard about this exhibit of Buddha relics that was touring the world. There was a temple in Toronto that was hosting the exhibit. I went to see it in an effort to recapture Asia in my home city. And I did exactly that. As soon as I stepped through the doors and I breathed in the incense, I was instantly returned to Thailand. Had I not known any better I would have believed that I had been teleported half way around the world. I had never had such strong associations with scent before and even now, years after the trip, I can be back in a night market in Thailand by simply lighting the right kind of incense.

1 comments:

pDogg February 26, 2009 at 4:54 PM  

I am so happy it's final. Yessss!! Check out a winning one:
http://www.islandreefjob.com/#/applicants/watch/kQzXTMfDLpA