Tag Archives: Traveling

A backpacker I have become!


After reading many many MANY blogs and reviews about traveling, and backpacks, and luggage, and looking at all the pros and cons, I have succumbed to living the life of a traveler, and have purchased a backpack.  A 55 litre backpack, with padded shoulder pads and a padded waistband, and so many other features it is mind boggling.  Some of the features I don’t even know what they are for!


I have fought off buying one. I thought that a suitcase would be more practical, I could carry more things, it has four wheels so its easy to push around.  But when it comes right down to it, I don’t need all the stuff I have.  I need clothes, my important papers, minimal footwear (boots and runners), and other small incidentals. The bigger the suitcase, the more you are going to bring. It’s all about minimalism.  


My life is so very different from 20 years ago, as I am sure most people’s lives are.  Back then, I had a house, a husband (haha) and so many things.  I was happy with all of that then, but as time went by, my mind shifted and I realized that things don’t make me happy ~ people and experiences make me happy.


I don’t need stuff. I need to travel. So a backpack is the way to go for me.  This does NOT mean I will backpack through countries (I still want to be comfortable!), but it does mean no baggage check in, and easier to get around the world with my possessions on my back rather than dragging along beside me.
So a backpacker I have become!!  A new era of Louise has begun!! 

From the delicious to the bizarre…

There are many unusual things to eat here in China, some more unusual than others (BBQ scorpion no thanks!).  The fun part of traveling is leaving your inhibitions aside and trying new things, if you are brave enough!!


Chicken gizzards ~ no.  BBQ scorpions ~ no. Unknown meat ~ well maybe.  Unknown seafood fried on a stick ~ yes and it was delicious!!  I know I ate chicken feet at one point unbeknownst to me. It was okay but doubtful that I will have it again willingly or knowingly!!

One of the more unusual fruit here is dragonfruit.  Its skin is bright pink, it has spikes all over it and doesn’t look like fruit at all!!

Inside it’s white with little black seeds (?).  It has a nice light fruity taste. It is not overly sweet, definitely not sour, and is quite refreshing.  It has a soft texture similar to a ripe pear.  I had tried it back in Calgary and thought it was tasty so I knew what it was like.  Of course, being in the country where it’s from, I had to try it!!  And it is more delicious here!!

Next thing to try ~ octopus in Chile!!

Whatever you are, be a good one

An extraverted protagonist. Sounds interesting right??  I recently did a personality test and my results show that I am an extraverted protagonist. A diplomat People’s Master.  It all sounds very confusing. It was something a close friend thought I would find interesting. And I did!!

It showed me results that definitely resonated with me. All but one section definitely is my personality.  And it also showed me some ways to strengthen my weaknesses. Things I will definitely start to do!
So why am I writing about this here? Really, who cares about someone else’s results of a personality test?  

I am not writing about this to share my results.  No. I am writing about how personality traits can make us stronger or weaker as we grow older and explore our self-worth.  

When I was younger, I was very shy. I did well in school but kept to myself a lot. As I went through many struggles in my adult life, my self-esteem grew stronger, I became more assertive and my personality changed. I became the person I am today – in my eyes, I am a strong, self-assured woman who can do anything she wants and be a success at whatever comes my way.

Traveling has changed me.  Seeing different cultures and dealing with situations I never would have had to in Canada have made me humble. 

We take for granted so many things in life. So many of us want material things (and I am not saying anything against that – it’s just not for me), but living in northern China has made me aware of so many struggles these people have on a daily basis that are beyond their control.  Living in the conditions they do have made them stronger than any other culture I have seen so far.

While my complaints of China are many, the strength and perseverance of these people is truly admirable. 

So like the title says, whatever you are be a good one. If you are a neighbour, be a good one. A mother, a daughter, a teacher, whatever it is you are – strive to be a good one. The people here in Changchun have shown me that, despite the conditions they live in, they take it in stride and they are the best they can be. Their personalities shine through. I will take away from this chapter in my life the strength I have seen of the Chinese people. And I am now, and forever will be, a better person because of it.

Which path will you take?

Every day on my way home from teaching, I come to two paths. One is stone, easy to walk on but uneven. The other is grassy, an uneven surface but muddy.  

A sudden storm came through the city today, lighting up the afternoon sky and rolling thunder, scaring me and the kids in class!  Luckily, when I left for home, the rain had stopped, leaving a freshness in the air but a wet walk.

When I came to the path, I pondered which to take. Do I take the stone path and avoid the mud but possibly slipping on the wet stone?  Or do I take the muddy path and get dirty, but avoid slipping?  

As I made my way home, this thought kept creeping into my mind. Had I taken the safer path in my life, would it have been as exciting as my life is now?

There are times in our life that choosing the safe path is the best thing to do for ourselves.  But then there are other times that its okay to take the riskier path just to see what happens.

The question is ~ what if you decide to turn around and never take either path? What if you decide that you would rather go the long (and safe) way to your destination?

Life is what we make of it.  Choosing the path that is right for you is something only you can figure out. Be a risk taker sometimes ~ take that unknown path and see where it leads you.  The future is yours!!

So are you wondering which path I took??   I took the grass path ~ uneven surface with lots of mud.  I felt like a kid again, getting muddy, and enjoying the walk.  I always try to choose the path that will make me happiest!  

Live without regrets


Regrets, I’ve had a few… words from a great and memorable song.  My way ~ the way I choose to live my life.
Do you have regrets in your life? Is there something that you wish you could go back in your life and change?

I have regrets. Less than I used to but I still have regrets.  There are times that I think maybe I would go back in time and change things, but then would I be where I am today? Not likely.

I truly believe that everything in our life happens for a reason, and that we meet certain people who are only in our life for a short time but have the biggest impact on us.  Do I regret that this person is no longer in my life? No because I know the time we had together helped me grow into the woman I am today.

So don’t go through life with too many regrets. Be grateful for everything you have. Life is too short to have too many regrets.

And remember what Frank said ~ I did it my way!!

Bucket list dreams

Growing up in a small Ontario city, one dreams of having the chance to see and maybe even live in exciting cities of the world. But how many of us actually get to do that?  I am sure people would be surprised to hear that many of us do!

I am one of those people. I grew up in Welland, Ontario ~ a small industrial city in Southern Ontario, close to Niagara Falls.  I enjoyed growing up there. I had lots of friends, school was fun for the most part, but then I turned 16 and I started dreaming of moving away. Toronto and New York City were the big cities that I wanted to see and live in! 

I did end up moving to Toronto when I was 19. I stayed a few years, moved to London, Ontario and got married. Yet I still had that itch to see more than Southern Ontario. I just could not see myself being brave enough to get out in the world. 
A few years ( and a divorce) later found me and my daughter heading to New York City. One of my bucket list items came off my list!! 
Single motherhood became my most important job then and so the bucket list had to wait.

A move to Calgary and discovering a new confidence in myself found me looking at European opportunities to work. A trip to Italy in April 2014 took another bucket list item off and added so many more to it!!!  I knew I had the courage to make a move.

In November 2014, after quitting my job, I moved to Prague to start a new life.  Teaching English was never on my bucket list but its enabled me to see London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Dresden, and now China. And I have a career now ~ not just a job.

I loved growing up in Welland and I wouldn’t trade my memories of my childhood for anything, but I am so proud of myself to have made it as far in the world as I have.  I can only hope that I inspire my children to live life with all their potential and to see just how far they can go, with hard work and a bucket list!!

Work to live

Which are you? Someone who works to live, or lives to work? Have you ever given this any thought? Maybe you were thinking of re-evaluating your life and started to question this. It causes great debates between people.

Many discussions have taken place between my friends and I about this. Some of these discussions have turned into lively debates.  I believe both sides have valid points. I was one of those people who lived to work for a very long time. But then the world opened up to me, and I discovered a whole new way of thinking and a new way of life.

We all know that life is short. And there is so much more to life than work. Of course, in order to live, most of us need to work. But when work takes over and you are no longer enjoying life because of work, is it really worth it?  There has to be a healthy balance. I find it hard to believe those people who say that they love to work 15 hours a day. 
Take the time to stop and smell the roses. Enjoy life – work to make enough so you can enjoy your life, but don’t forget to live.

‚Äč39 years old, with 13 years experience!

Happy Birthday to me!!!
This is birthday number 3 for me traveling abroad, and my 52nd in this awesome world.  It really has been an amazing journey, these 52 years, and while I know deep down that I am NOT middle aged (because, really, who lives to be 104 ~ not many of us!), I do not feel my age at all. And I attribute this to doing what I want and loving what I do!  

I turned 50, a milestone birthday, in Prague, and while it was not exactly the day I had in mind, it was definitely memorable turning 50 in Europe! A weekend trip to Cesky Krumlov on my own was just what I needed after that monumental day.

At 51, I was on my way to Berlin for a short holiday to celebrate my birthday. I enjoyed celebrating on my own as it gave me a chance to reflect on my life, what I had endured and how it had turned out at the time. Celebrating one’s birthday may sound lonely but it really wasn’t. I was in an exciting European city, enjoying new sites and sounds and food.  This was when I made the decision to make a change. China and other Asian countries were on my list but obviously China won. And while China can be challenging, I don’t regret it at all!

So now here I am, turning another year older in another country and it really is exciting!  I have made many friends here who I know are going to be lifetime friends. I have discovered a side of me that I never would have found had I not jumped into this new life ~ that side being the incredible patience I have for teaching young children, and loving them all so much.

I don’t know where I will be next year to celebrate my 53rd birthday but no matter where I will be, you can be sure that I will make it the best day possible and that I will be grateful for being there!

Choosing a better life

My life has been anything but easy. I have experienced challenges with every turn in the road of this life. It has only been recently that I have chosen to embrace every challenge and conquer it.

Czech Republic was one of my biggest and most challenging roads to take. Leaving my family, my comfortable job and a steady pay cheque was the scariest thing I have ever done. With a strong desire to succeed and to show everyone, especially myself, that I could do this, I put my nose to the grindstone, worked hard, worked long hours teaching, and succeeded. With the willpower and determination I knew was needed, I gave it all my all and was rewarded with amazing students and great new friends.

While moving to China can be seen as a huge move, and it was, because of the experience I already had moving away from my family, the transition was much easier to cope with.

If you have a strong desire to see the world, if you are willing to sacrifice the comfort of the known, if you want to be challenged, then you can have this life too. You just need to reach out and grab it.

Traveling without credit ~ it is possible!!

Living a credit~free life is liberating but also challenging. In North America, most people live their every day life with at least one credit card in their wallet. For a long time, so did I. It’s been many years since I have given up the credit life. Has it been challenging? I would be lying if I said no. I have become frugal and disciplined in recent years.

There are many advantages and disadvantages of living and traveling with no credit.
One big advantage is you learn to spend only what you have and what you can afford. I do not live above my means. And there is not much impulse shopping!


Another advantage is learning to budget your money. I have become a master at budgeting, and also a little obsessed with Excel spreadsheets. I am very proud of my ability to budget as well as I do!
Many people are surprised that you can travel with no credit card. Europe and China are very willing to take cash as payments for hotels. Airline websites will take debit card payments. Bus and train tickets can be purchased this way too. It’s all about researching and finding the right websites.


Of course there are disadvantages. A huge disadvantage is not being able to get air mile rewards and bonus points. Many travellers I know have talked about the perks they receive from air lines ~ seat upgrades, even free flights. It’s not possible without a credit card, at least I have not discovered any yet.
Another disadvantage is in North America and traveling. Hotels want credit card information to reserve a room. Car rental companies won’t even consider renting a car without a credit card. While I understand the reasoning, I think it’s unfair to the people who travel on a cash~only basis.
Living and traveling in Europe and China has been quite simple as almost every place willingly takes cash for payment ~ including hotels. I am unaware if there are debt problems here in China as there are in North America, but it has been very nice living in a country that is so accepting of cash.


So don’t tell yourself that you can’t travel because you have no credit card ~ it’s definitely possible! It’s just a matter of discipline, budgeting and a lot of research. If I can do it, anyone can!