Why This Traveler Will Never Get an eReader

I will never get an e-reader.


No Kindle, Kobo, or Nook shall ever touch these palms. The weight of real books is not too much for me to bear. I will throw out shoes or souvenirs before I dare dream of ditching an unread book. I will zip up my backpack, so full of clothes and half-used toiletries and shake, shake, shake until there is room enough to slip in an extra story or two.

I will never get an e-reader.


Because I want to peruse book shelves not search engines. I want to know a place by the stories left behind. I want to know what part of the world I’m in by the authors lining the shelves. I want to find Keyes in Europe, Crichton in Asia, Coehlo in the Americas, and Dan Brown on every goddamn shelf on the planet.

I will never get an e-reader.


I do not want to choose the next book I read; I want it to choose me. I want to read books I’d never pick up on purpose, books that take me out of my comfort zone to other places and times and worlds and universes. Because that is why I travel: to be surprised; to have my expectations shattered.

I will never get an e-reader.


When the light outside dims and it is too dark for me to see, I do not need to continue reading. I will put my book away and dream of the many adventures ahead of me. (Or I will pull out my trusty headlamp and carry on with the story. I don’t need my book to glow on its own.)

I will never get an e-reader.


Because it is in my human nature to judge, and showing the cover of your book provides no easier method for me to do so. (But we will be friends regardless of what you’re reading, because you are reading and that is all that matters.) And when I check in to a new dorm and resting on the bed across from mine is a pair of tortoise shell glasses and a copy of On the Road, my heart will soar and for a moment I’ll plan our future together. (Or at least how I can be first in line when he finishes his copy.)

I will never get an e-reader.


Because I don’t need everything to be easy and at my fingertips. I don’t need to know the answer right away. I will write down the words I don’t understand and look them up later — or I will ask whomever’s around. I will highlight sections and fold down corners, because the corners of well-worn book are the surest signs of love (and the truest signs of love I understand).

I will never get an e-reader.


Because a dwindling bookshelf is the saddest sight in the world and I will not contribute to its demise.  Because leaving a book behind is like leaving a legacy.  Because someone else will find the stories I have loved and maybe they will love them too. Because when you happen upon that exact book you’ve been looking for, there is no greater magic. Because there is not enough in this world left to chance.


I will never get a—Oh, shit. Wait a minute… You mean there are almost no English books here? Like basically none at all? You’re saying my only options are The New Testament or Legends of Shannara: The Measure of Magic? Er, this is awkward…

Can someone send me an e-reader?


The Nation of Nowhere

There are people everywhere who form a Fourth World, or a diaspora of their own. They are the lordly ones! They come in all colours. They can be Christians or Hindus or Muslims or Jews or pagans or atheists. They can be young or old, men or women, soldiers or pacifists, rich or poor. They may be patriots, but they are never chauvinists. They share with each other, across all the nations, common values of humour and understanding. When you are among them you know you will not be mocked or resented, because they will not care about your race, your faith, your sex or your nationality, and they suffer fools if not gladly, at least sympathetically. They laugh easily. They are easily grateful. They are never mean. They are not inhibited by fashion, public opinion or political correctness. They are exiles in their own communities, because they are always in a minority, but they form a mighty nation, if they only knew it. It is the nation of nowhere . . .

– Jan Morris

Four Thousand Islands, Laos (SPIDER ATTACK!)

In 2008 I spend three months backpacking around Southeast Asia. This is one of my stories. 

Keli and I took turns riding the broken bike the whole winding road back. We’d spent our second day cycling around the island of Don Khong and across to a neighbouring island to see the Khone Phapheng Falls, the largest waterfall (by volume) in Southeast Asia. 4,000 Islands or Si Phan Don are nestled into the verrrry bottom of Laos right near the Cambodian border. Though often frequented by young backpackers as a side trip from Thailand, Laos shares much less in common with its neighbour to the southwest than you might think. In 2008, at least, there were no 7-11s, no t-shirts boasting Heidi Klum’s naked back and middle finger (a Khao San favourite in those days), and at least 75% fewer buckets* per person.

Striking a pose in front of Khone Phapheng Falls.

I had met my travel buddies, Katie and Keli, British ladies on their way back from a year in Australia, on the bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong. That was where we would start our two-day slowboat journey down the Mekong River and into the heart of Laos. After 10 days traveling through peaceful Luang Prabang, dionysiac Vang Vieng, and sleepy Vientenne, we decided to set off for the 4,000 islands together. Kelly, Keli and Katie. We bid adieu our other Laos travel companions — they were headed off to Vietnam — and went south.

We landed our first night on the island of Don Det. But, with no other backpackers to be found, decided to head over to Don Khong as soon as possible for what we hoped would be a livelier time. First thing the next morning we loaded all our worldly possessions into a large canoe-type boat with a motor on the end and set off, the water around us murky brown, like the colour of milk chocolate gone rancid.

Our boat floated lazily downriver, guided slowly by the puttering motor, passing linked islands, their foliage spilling out into the water. The world here is flat, nothing but palm trees separate island and sky. Guesthouses pepper the shore, raised up on stilts. Some of them have brown, thatched roofs; others red or blue plastic tiles to protect them from the elements. Most have hammocks swinging on their balconies.

4,000 Islands

After arriving on Don Khong, we spent the better part of an hour searching for a place to sleep. All the huts were dingy and beat up. I would safely say there wasn’t an air conditioning unit around for miles. We didn’t come across many backpackers either, so we decided to spend only one more night there and leave for Cambodia first thing in the morning. By this logic, we were satisfied with a small room, boasting one double bed (to squeeze the three of us in), a couple stringy hammocks on the balcony, and the not unfamiliar combo of hole in floor + sink = bathroom. If memory serves, this particular hole was surrounded by shiny blue tile; a classy touch. After arranging for early morning transportation off the island and over the border, we rented some bikes and began to explore.


After taking pictures at the waterfall, we had hoped to rent a boat and be taken to see the Irrawaddy dolphins, (a breed that lives in brackish or freshwater), but our leisurely pace had set us behind. Twilight was creeping nearer, and the boat drivers wouldn’t take anyone out this close to dark. So we turned back around and bike through the palm trees and past the vibrant green fields back to our guesthouse. Katie’s chain fell off her bike about fifteen minutes into our return journey.

Our bike path on Don Khong.

My hands got all greased up trying to repair Katie’s chain. Locals we passed on the way tried to help as well, but the chain was broken; there was no fix. We decided to take turns on the broken bike, one foot on a pedal, the other foot pushing and coasting, pushing and coasting. Although we didn’t have enough light to make it to see the dolphins, we should have had plenty of light to get home before dark. But a sign poking out of a window just off the road reading ‘Authentic Italian Pizza’ distracted us from our journey. We couldn’t resist stopping.

A margherita and two quattro formaggis later, the sun had set and we were on our way again, now in the pitch black dark. It seems to be pizza > safety, every time. Fortunately, between the three of us we miraculously had two items that glowed. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop Katie from almost biking head on into a water buffalo. At least none of us fell into a rice field (though it got uncomfortably close).

It was about nine thirty at night by the time we road in, elated and exhausted. We laid our bikes up against the shop we’d borrowed them from and surveyed the near deserted pathway. Lights glowed from only a few buildings. We wandered down until we found the island’s internet cafe. Settling in, they reminded us of the electricity curfew of the entire island. Lights off at ten o’clock. (Yes, the entire island, believe it or not, turns off at 10 p.m.) We spent 10 minutes checking Facebook, then, realizing the time, headed to a little shop nearby to buy candles. It was now quarter to ten, just enough time to return to a our wee little room, brush our teeth, and tuck ourselves in before the entire island went dark.

Candles in hand, we walked down the path to our guesthouse and up the three steps to our balcony, still buzzing from our broken bike ride, unlocked the front door and flicked on the lights. And there it was…

Inside our mosquito net.

Four inches long.




Four legs angled to jut out of its front half and another four jutting out the back. Not round, but rectangle shaped; gigantic; hairy; brown; spider. I repeat, inside our mosquito net. And yes, with ten minutes until the whole island was to go dark.

I’ve always been afraid of spiders, my whole life. And, apparently, so have Keli and Katie. We screamed, I am not proud to say; then we stared: at each other, at the spider, our mouths gaping open and closed, silently, in utter shock. This is no good. I watch as tears roll down Katie’s cheeks and I try to gather enough breath in my lungs to stop my hands from shaking violently. This response is not rational, I know. But today does not appear to be the day that any of us conquer an irrational phobia. So what are we going to do? We’ll sleep on the balcony. That’s the only option. But it’s not an option. Our bags are on the floor, we can’t leave them there, open, unattended. There are only two hammocks on the balcony and they’re scrawny as hell. And God only knows what could crawl on us out there. Someone needs to get rid of the spider. It has to go. We need to sleep in that bed. But I won’t move it. Keli won’t move it. Katie won’t move it. Fine, we won’t sleep. We’ll stay up all night, smoking our dollar packs of cigarettes, swinging on the rickety plastic hammocks. No. No. We’ll go get help. There’s got to be someone who can help us.

I instruct Keli to stay put and watch the furry monstrosity. Don’t let your eyes stray from it, or it could move and then where will we be? Stare at it. Don’t even blink. Katie and I grasp on to each other, still shaking, and head for the road, back to the cafe. We spot an older couple chatting with a guy in his late twenties. Excuse us. Is there… Could you… could you possibly do us a huge favour? They initially regard us with concern (it was probably the tears) but after we explain the situation, they simply laugh.

We guide them back; the young man has agreed to remove it for us and the couple wants to watch. Keli is still standing at the entrance of our room, petrified. There, we point… inside the mosquito net. The young man looks inside the room. The three of us edge backwards. The older couple giggles at our state. The man pulls a tissue out of his pocket and steps inside. My eyes burn as I try to remain calm. We’re too far back on the balcony now to see what’s going on. He’s in the room just a second, but by the time he comes out, we’ve crammed ourselves into the furthest possible edge of the balcony corner. Got it. He stretches his arm, and spider-encased hand, out toward us, teasing, but is met with shrieks high enough to communicate with stray dogs on the other side of the island before he can even fully straighten out his elbow. Seeing our fear, he rescinds the gesture.

Thank you. Thank you. We couldn’t have… Oh my God, thank you so much.

We have about two minutes ’til lights out now. The emanate terror is gone, but every dark corner holds a new, unknown threat. I pick gingerly through my bag, poised to react at a moments notice, and pull out a long sleeve t-shirt and pants — clothes inappropriately warm and packed mostly for plane rides — but I need to cover as much skin as possible. I pee into the blue tiled hole, eyes peeled on every corner of the room. I brush my teeth and slip into bed next to Katie, who under the pretence of being the most frightened managed to score the middle spot. Keli’s laid out candles on the window sill and I watch them burn as we tuck in every corner of the mosquito net, our sole protection from the outside world and all its creatures. Katie plays music from a small speaker. We speak in hushed tones, as if loud noises might stir other figments of our nightmares. I lay awake, watching the candles melt, drip, and, slowly, go out.

The next morning, after a sleep even more fitful than one an overnight bus blasting The Beach on repeat, we pack our bags and head to the boat. As we settle in to the passenger van that will take us to Kratie, Cambodia, my long Canadian legs squished against the back of the driver’s seat, we talk about our plans to stay the night somewhere, not only air conditioned, but in a building, made of cement, on the top floor. The mini bus revs on and we begin our journey across another boarder, happy to be leaving Laos. Little do we know, the first thing to greet us on the other side will be a platter of barbecued tarantulas resting atop a smiling Cambodian woman’s head. Maybe it’s time to conquer that fear after all?


* bucket – a mixture of Sang Som (Thai whiskey), coca-cola, and red bull (the illegal in North America kind) served in a colourful plastic bucket (think children’s sand pail) with many straws meant for sharing (or not) and causing its imbibers to get incredibly fucked up.

A water buffalo.

Every Tuesday I’ll be doing a new Travelback instalment. It’ll will likely be different every week — sometimes a list, sometimes an essay, sometimes just highlights or photos. A huge dream of mine is to write about travel and the world… Okay, well, I’m already living that dream, so I should specify: a huge dream of mine is to get paid to write about such things. This exercise may be a bit self-indulgent, but ultimately I want to work my travel writing muscle to the point that it’s strong enough to entertain and inspire you. As such, I hope you enjoy. xo Kelly.

Memories of Paris

I’ve been to Paris twice. The first in September of 2007 and the second in November of 2007. It was on the same backpacking trip and the only destination I circled through twice. When I first arrived in Paris, in September, from Vancouver, my heart and my head were full of expectations. So full that I’d forgotten to fill them with directions from the airport to my hostel. I was traveling with a not entirely pleasant girl who kept barking at me to, instead of my somewhat broken but mostly passable French, ask for directions to the 10th Arrondissement in English.

After an hour or so of asking random Parisians on the street — On cherche Rue la Fayette! Savez-vous où est le hostel Peace and Love?* — and, mind you, we were actually fumbling closer to our destination… I finally broke and consulted a hotel desk clerk… in English. She directed us to a bus and, relieved, we got on. I remember Rhianna’s “Umbrella” was playing over the speakers, but in my jet lag-addled brain, the words sounded French. Figuring they must have recorded a different version for this iconic country, I said as much to my travel mate. She sneered and I listened more closely: “When the sun shines we shine together…” Oh. Well, that settles that then.

*Not “Paix et Amour”, but Peace and Love — obviously catered to travellers and missing from any well-to-do Parisian’s radar.

Effiel Tower from the 10th Arrondissement
The view from Peace and Love hostel and my first time seeing the Effiel Tower live.

What I know now is that the Paris Metro system runs from the airport I landed at (CDG) and meets a connecting line that would take us a block from where we were going. But I had an overly-confident attitude heading into my first backpacking trip, stemmed likely from travels with my parents to various countries — some of which I don’t even remember but figured, surely, that the ability to travel well rested within my blood. And, perhaps, also, I assumed Paris would take me in, accept me as its own. I knew I belonged there, so shouldn’t the city know it, too?

Whatever confidence I assumed my blood to be filled with, it certainly wasn’t there three days later as I sat, crumpled, at a dusty train station, halfway to Versailles to visit some long-lost cousins. Crumpled because of construction closing the train line and deterring me from carrying on. Crumpled because I didn’t know now where to go. Crumpled, dreaming about returning home. I arrived in Paris expecting to be swept up, but Paris laughed at my romanticism. It chewed me up, spat me out, and kicked dirt on top of me.


When I returned to Paris two months later, everything was different. My maddeningly passive aggressive trip mate had returned to Canada, taking with her 300 dollars that she would never return and any sense of obligation I had to anyone. Paris, the second time, was going to be mine.

I selected a bunk in a large co-ed room at the 3 Ducks Hostel; this time in the 15th Arrondissement, a 25 minute stroll to the Effiel Tower. Their policy was ‘no outside alcohol’ as to promote sales at the bar, but we snuck 97¢ bottles of France’s best non-champagne region sparkling in anyways. We played Kings Cup/Ring of Fire/Sociables with the harshest rules: anyone who swears gets that word written on their face in sharpie. I learned how to roll cigarettes.

The two people I remember most were an American girl and an Australian boy. Though I was only 20 at the time, I remember thinking they were so young. They must have been 18 but to a 20 year old as wise and experienced as I, they were children. I was jealous of them, though, as the American girl would spend our pre-drinking evenings reading French newspapers, analyzing and translating every single word — the Australian boy was invited to look over her shoulder, but I was not. She was living in the hostel and in Paris for an indefinite amount of time. Part of me wanted to be her.

One day the Australian boy and I made plans to sightsee. First, we made our way to the Catacombs. Over time I’ve been told they can often be severely backed up with tourists, but on this brisk day in early November, we walked straight in. Straight in then down and down and down and around the winding steps. Unsurprisingly it is quiet down there, muted. There is something special about being underground. It is the opposite of the thrill and unease you feel while flying. There is comfort in the depths, familiarity. Even in the dim atmosphere there were still tourists behind us that yelled and shouted. So we kept our voices hushed and our pace slow, losing them for several minutes of quiet until another group rushed by.

The amount of bones is staggering. Skulls on skulls on femurs and fibulas and thousands of other human puzzle pieces. Despite the stacks of deconstructed skeletons, it wasn’t at all scary or terrifying. More contemplative than anything. I read every plaque but I couldn’t now tell you a word of what they said. The bones of six million people.

Once we emerged from under the city (and after we found the nearest crepe truck), the metro whisked us off to Cimetière du Père-Lachaise. If you can visit on an overcast fall day, I suggest you do just that. Crisp leaves and dark skies are the perfect setting for visiting the above-ground dead. Most cemeteries around the world could put their Canadian counterparts to shame, but of all the storied haunts I’ve wandered through across the world, this one stays in my memory the most. The best set designer in Hollywood could not mimic the grandeur of Père-Lachaise. Perhaps because the atmosphere is so dense with history, with devotion. This is a place where you have to die as somebody. Père-Lachaise elevates your artistry in death and the tombstones reiterates that.

We hovered by Jim Morrison’s grave, giving the French teenagers space to smoke their In Memoriam cigarettes and listen to The Doors through their headphones. I put on red lipstick and kissed Oscar Wilde’s grave. The Australian boy took a picture on his camera but never sent it to me.


I tell anyone who will listen that one day I will live in Paris. You could play a game in my home of ‘count the Effiel Towers.’ Including photographs and magazine cutouts and artwork and postcards and my metre high statue, there might be 2o. Or more. It is a cliché, I know. I am Owen Wilson in Midnight in Paris. I am Carrie Bradshaw in season six, but I don’t skip out on dinners in my honour to please a man. Magic lives in those streets and I want to be a part of it.

They say Paris is for lovers, but that’s not true. Paris is for anyone who wants to believe. In something. In anything. Be it love, magic, history… death. When you go to Paris — or when you go back — I suggest you leave everything behind. Bring a map and if you can’t resist it, a camera. Speak in broken French. Get lost. Make new friends. Avoid anywhere playing Rhianna. Smoke cigarettes outside cafés and drink the cheapest sparkling you can find… on the street, by the Effiel Tower, by yourself or with that bloke you met at your hostel. The magic of Paris is what you make of it. It won’t present itself to you, you must seek it out instead. I imagine Paris as a bridge troll, not allowing you to pass until you have given it something. Not money or trinkets, but something of yourself. Blood, tears, dignity. Perhaps that can be said of all great cities, they take nearly just as much as they give. But sometimes, I think, Paris gives just a little bit more.


Every Tuesday I’ll be doing a new Travelback instalment. It’ll will likely be different every week — sometimes a list, sometimes an essay, sometimes just highlights or photos. A huge dream of mine is to write about travel and the world… Okay, well, I’m already living that dream, so I should specify: a huge dream of mine is to get paid to write about such things. This exercise may be a bit self-indulgent, but ultimately I want to work my travel writing muscle to the point that it’s strong enough to entertain and inspire you. As such, I hope you enjoy. xo Kelly.

Nassau, Bahamas (Part 2)

Let’s get to the most important part right away: Sky Juice.

Sky Juice Recipe

Seriously. So good.

So after I’d walked up the Queen’s Staircase, I headed over to Fort Fincastle. It overlooks the eastern approach to New Providence, Nassau, and Paradise Island (not to mention the infamous Atlantis).


After that, I had a few places in mind but no specific plan, so I unfolded my trusty map and decided to walk in the direction of the fish fry. (Fish fry, FYI, is Nassau’s famous strip of seafood restaurants. Right on the ocean, with more options than you could ever attempt to choose from. When you head there ask a local to direct you to their favourite haunt.)

As I was wandering down through the mostly empty downtown Nassau suburbs, I bumped into a group of twenty-somethings. I’d seen them earlier (near the pirate museum, I believe), so I waved and they called me over. Turns out we were a few short blocks from a rum distillery. They invited me to join them for a tour and, naturally, I said yes.

johnny watkin's

The tour was a bit lacklustre, but the grounds were beautiful and the rum, tasty. My new friends were a group of cousins from New York and Toronto taking a family vacay together. I surreptitiously told them I was here with friends who didn’t feel like sightseeing today; (mostly true.) After siphoning as much free rum as we could, it was time to head to the fish fry. We walked straight down to the water and, in the stifling heat, decided to take a pause before turning left. Thankfully we did, because that’s when Sky Juice was discovered. (See above.)

The middle shack on the right provided the Sky Juice.

Something I hadn’t done enough of in my previous travels was ask the locals for tips. That, and take pictures of food; (yes, I’m part of that 50% percent.) Often times what the guide books recommend and what the locals suggest overlap, but it’s always worth it to ask. (Sky Juice was recommended by several different people.)

Speaking of suggestions, I knew I had to try conch while I was in the Bahamas. The book I mentioned in the previous post, An Embarrassment of Mangoes, told, in great detail, the joys and pains of eating conch. Thankfully I didn’t have to eat it myself — it requires a great deal of pulling to get it out of the shell and a great deal of beating (to tenderize) once it’s set free.


I selected the cracked conch and it was flippin’ delicious. It’s very similar to calamari, but even better — more tender, more flavourful. If you ever get the chance, you must try it.

(Disclaimer: you probably won’t have much luck at the resort. I had the same problem finding Mexican food in Cabo. They have a sushi restaurant, a steakhouse, fine French dining, but only one tiny hole in the wall for Mexican food! What up? As such, I couldn’t find any conch dishes at any of our resort’s food establishments… They did, however, have fantastic thin crust pizza.)

Then, half-cut on Sky Juice and full of conch, it was time to bid adieu to the cousins and head back to the resort. I hopped on another bus (they’re always whizzing by) and was back with plenty of time to lounge around in the pool and get ready for a big dinner out.


Bahamas, you were swell.

I don’t know how feasible it would be to travel around the Caribbean on a budget* but I do hope to make it back before I’m 50. It would be incredible to spend some time island hopping — or sailing, (after I get over my fear). Grenada in particular is calling to me.

It’s a beautiful place; and, though, despite it’s proximity to the States, it didn’t feel overrun by tourists or bereft of culture. Sure there were a lot of pander-y shops — I didn’t even mention the work day spent wandering around the hella touristy area; but if you look a little further, there’s a lot of authenticity and stunningly beautiful sights to be found.

*Budget: A personal travel guideline for the foreseeable future.

See ya around, Bahamas.

Nassau, Bahamas (Part 1)

Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to be a member of the crew on the second season of The Bachelor Canada — which, in the fourth episode, took us to Nassau, Bahamas.

Hibiscus flower
I’ve never had any immediate desire to travel to the Caribbean. Don’t get me wrong, when I found out we were going to the Bahamas I was ecstatic. But of all the countries on my bucket list,* the 30 or so islands making up that freckled piece of watery globe sat closer to the bottom. I blame “An Embarrassment of Mangoes.” A brilliant book of travel narrative, no doubt, but the writers spoke so convincingly of their middle-aged sailboat adventure from the icy waters of Canada all the way to the tip of Trinidad and Tobago, they had me certain I didn’t need to follow their steps until well into my late 50s.
*Every single one. Twice. Minus Albania. (Don’t ask.)
Now, of course, my mind has changed and I would go back at any given moment.
We flew to the Bahamas over two arduous stopovers en route from Cabo. (I know; woe is me.) Los Cabos are beautiful: heat, still and dry like the circulated air on our flights, with cacti and golden brown soil to match. But the tropics they are not. A desert life is not the life for me, so stepping off the plane and into the soupy warm of Nassau, sweat immediately sprouting on my skin, I felt at home.
The puddle jumper from Miami was a touch rough, but what do you expect on a miniature plane packed with 80+ pieces of film gear? Film gear that didn’t all make it, natch. (Again, miniature plane.) No matter. A sing-a-long passed the time as we waited — fruitlessly — for word on our items. Eventually we learned they’d be on their way first thing tomorrow and on our way through customs and off to the resort we went.
Sandals Resort
Three days later… After a super early airport drop off and a quick nap, my only day off kicked into action. Everyone else was content downing Mai Thais and Pina Coladas in the pool, but I wasn’t about to let the Bahamas pass me by, so I took my haphazardly folded map and my 20 megabites of wifi (Traveling is so easy these days, isn’t it?) and sauntered off the resort.
I started out with “Old Town” but quickly realized it was a bust — so I turned around and hopped back on one of the local buses. Like the Brits who colonized them (truth? lie? I’m typing this with no internet access so choose your own history adventure), Bahamians drive on the left side of the road. A bus ride into town cost a $1.50 (in the local currency or American dollars — the two are interchangeable) and was filled mainly with locals. I chatted with the driver and got a few tips on where to go and what to see.
Every building is so frickin’ pretty and colourful.
Downtown Nassau is a stunning array of brightly coloured buildings, cobblestone streets and hack-y tourist shops. I strolled through the parliament building and up and down a few streets before realizing I couldn’t wait any longer to visit… the Pirate Museum*!!
New Providence Island, Bahamas was a MASSIVE hub for pirates back in the 1600 and 1700 hundreds. Treasure hunters still visit consistently and the attitude of piracy is kept alive with the island’s many international banks with loose legalities.
*Pictures not included. But, yes, there was a ship and era-appropirate** streets built inside the museum. And, yes, I was the only one walking around. And, yes, they played sound effects over the loud speaker and I got a little bit scared. (What!? It was dark!!)
**Unintentional spelling mistake. Leaving it.
Each building, one Grand Budapest Hotel after another.
After the museum I decided to wander further… I’d Googled places to check out in Nassau and every list included the Queen’s Staircase. I wandered out of the downtown core, passing many more vibrant buildings and homes… and some eroding, dilapitated ones as well. Similar to Cabo, there is so much beauty and colour, but at any given moment, poverty is right around the corner. That being said, at no point did I feel unsafe. There is a happy buzz in the air, one reflecting the cheerful hues — or maybe just indicative of all the American money filtered through the country.
Queen's Staircase
Queen’s Staircase
Named after Queen Victoria, the staircase was built between 1793 and 1794 as a direct route to Fort Fincastle. There was a cheerful man at the bottom who spent about 15 minutes telling me and a few other tourists all about the history of the place. It was a beautiful, peaceful spot, not too overwhelmed by tourists, and filled with stunning flora — like, finger roots!!
Finger roots!

Stay tuned for Part 2… including a drink recipe for a dangerously delicious Bahamian cocktail!

Of the Week

Links, stories, entertainment, and other various things I enjoyed this week:

The full Hollywood Reporter “Drama Queens” roundtable has been released. And if you, like me, are a TV/acting nerd, you’ll really enjoy it.

Could Vancouver host the 2022 Winter Olympics? Probably not. But this likely isn’t the last we’re going to hear on the subject.

A comprehensive history of Fireball. (Spoiler: it contains brilliant marketing.)

Quentin Tarantino and Uma Thurman might be dating. I don’t know why, but this makes me very happy.

It’s hard to know how legit this is until one actually tries it themselves, but there’s now a website that helps you crowd fund your travels: Trevolta.

Photographic proof that The Matrix is real and we’re living in it.

Bees are dying all over the place and it’s legitimately terrifying. Click here to do a little something about it. And check out Generation A by Douglas Coupland to scare yourself a little more. (Then check out his exhibit at the VAG, ’cause why not?)


Movie: The Perks of Being a Wallflower 


I’m not going to lie to you guys, my eyes are still puffy a day later. Nearly ten years after I fell in love with the book and two years after the film was released, I finally settled in to watch TPoBaW. (That’s a hideous looking acronym, isn’t it?) Stephen Chobsky, the book’s author, adapted the screenplay AND directed the film, giving perfect explanation to why it’s so lovely. I don’t know if this story is for everyone, but if you’ve ever felt lonely, isolated, and as if the pain of the world might be too much to bear, you need to watch this film. It is beautiful and touching and completely heartbreaking, but ultimately hopeful. Prepare to get in touch with that teenage angst that lives inside of all of us and bring the tissues.


TV: Orphan Black – It’s fast-paced, smart, and ridiculously entertaining. Tatiana Maslany is… well, I can’t think of a word in the English language to properly describe how incredibly talented she is. Streepian, perhaps?



Song: “Take Me to Church” by Hozier – This song can best be described as cavernous. SO good.


Book: Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris


It’s fascinating to me how vastly unique siblings can be from one another: in careers, morals, interests, personalities. Coming from a large family, Sedaris shares tales of his unique (read: psychotic) family, from childhood ’til present. (Bonus: an insight as to how Amy Sedaris got so wacky.) He takes stories, that would no doubt be mundane from a less talented writer, and spins them into tales of humour, grace, and depth. The best part is that he never holds back from sharing all the awful things he has said or done. No rose coloured glasses here. Sedaris will make you feel better about being the flawed human being that we all are.

Word: ostensible [o-sten-suh-buhl] adjective
1. outwardly appearing as such; professed; pretended: an ostensible cheerfulness concealing sadness.
2. apparent, evident, or conspicuous: the ostensible truth of their theories.

Writing days & movie nights

While it may appear that all I’ve been doing in Los Angeles is playing, I did in fact come here to get some work done. Some network! Get it? Work… network! #sorrynotsorry

Anyway, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some wonderful people here and will soon be compiling all the advice they have given me into one handy post. But for now, I’m just going to keep posting the fun stuff!


hugo(The only picture I took on Tuesday.)

Yeah, so Tuesday I spent the day writing and emailing and jumping at the banging noises from the kitchen. Hugo is a sneaky teenager (I blame his adolescence for us not getting along.) and continually ducks in and out of cupboards in search of a “hit.” I finally got up and found him in the top cupboard, next to the fridge, head deep into a torn up food bag.

Wednesday was also mostly filled with more of the above but I needed to leave Narnia so I decided to check out Universal Studios City Walk.

universal globe

Finding something in walking distance is super rare for LA, but luckily Universal Studios is about a 40 minute walk from Ryan and Hayley’s place; (or 25 minutes plus a free tram* up the hill.) I was going to walk but the tram was right there, so naturally I hopped on. It takes you all the way up to the entrance of Universal Studios and what they call “City Walk.” City Walk is basically just a sweeping row of restaurants, tourist shops, and restaurants and tourist shops.**

*The tram loads diagonally across the street from the Universal City metro stop.

**Not a typo.

city walkEnthralling stuff.

It was neat, but not exactly a “must see.” The real reason I went up there, though, was to catch a movie.

Mild digression: Every year I tell myself I’m going to see all the films nominated for Best Picture; and every year I’ve gotten really close, but never quite made it. This year, however, I WILL do it! (I mean, it’s really not that complicated, especially in this day and age.***)

So I bought a ticket to Gravity. (I realize it’s shameful that I hadn’t seen it yet, but I was really busy last year, okay?!) The theatre up there is massive, boasting 20 screens. Unfortunately it was no longer in IMAX (Damn you, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.) but I was still blown away from seeing it in 3D. Gravity is truly a jaw dropping cinematic feat that will surely win several technical Oscars, but I sort of wish they’d done one more draft on the dialogue.

***But pirating is bad; don’t do it.**** Pay for movies.

****Unless you’re pretending to be a pirate, like, a real one, not then internet kind: in that case, carry on.

ayX4T0Kp0kj3d0-INRwKk__lohYGvjp5RjyaCizJjVoExciting even at night!

Thursday I had plans to meet up with Jake (a classmate of mine from VFS). He just recently moved down to L.A. permanently, but, being California born and bred, knows a lot more about the city than I do.

He picked me up and, after some much needed coffee, we drove up to Griffith Observatory. I’d already been up there (on Nisha’s last day) but it was nice to spend some extra time wandering around and taking in the view.

_U-xLdf5JQyf9CnsS-TJutOXWCZHAJkNU3hd9TWnQ_IThat view, amirite?!

Kidding aside, it’s actually beautiful to walk around. We popped inside — it’s a legit planetarium in there — then made our way back down the hill (mountain?).  For our next stop, Jake drove us to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Margaret Herrick Library. (Say that five times fast.) The building is gorgeous, but the inside is actually pretty mellow, at least for what I assumed it would be like coming from the people who put on the always ritzy Oscars.

We browsed around for a while, enjoying the massive selection of film and television books, saw a real Oscar, (!!!) (All About Eve – Best Costume Design, Black-and-White), and enquired into seeing production notes and scripts. (They have a gargantuan collection, but most requests take 24 hrs to process.) You can’t psychically check anything out of the library, but it’s a fantastic research resource for anyone spending time in L.A.

sunset strip hotelA hotel on the Sunset strip.

I hadn’t spent any time on Sunset Blvd, so we decided to drive down the infamous strip to find some food and pick out famous sites (Chateau Marmont, The Viper Room). I was craving Mexican (I’m always craving Mexican.) but Jake pointed out another place and I (temporarily) let go of my taco craving. And I’m glad I did, because it turns out that he was taking me to the diner from American Graffiti.


A classic, All-American spot, we ordered some greasy food and played Tom Petty’s American Girl on the jukebox.

mel'sUnlike Vancouver institution, The Templeton, the jukeboxes actually work here.

I wish we had more classic diners in Vancouver. Screw the Cat Cafe, I want waiters on roller-skates! We finished up our tasty (and artery clogging) food, then Jake headed off into the smog as I took to the Boulevard to wander.

I had plans to meet a VFS Writing alum in a few hours and was going to sight see up and down the strip until that time, but was feeling quite sleepy. Just as I was getting deep into my daydream of Nap Cafes***** I spotted a movie theatre! Hallelujah!

I’d stumbled upon one of Robert Redford’s Sundance Cinemas. It’s a 21+ chain where they serve drinks, fancy coffees, meat plates, edamame, you name it. The seating is reserved and the chairs large, cozy, and equipped with side tables. Now that’s how you’re meant to watch a movie! I picked Philomena, purchased a large Americano, and settled in.

Best Picture nominee, Philomena, is sweet, lovely, and ABSOLUTELY HEART-WRENCHING. Literally, bring all the tissues.

After it was finished, I had the perfect amount of time to walk down Sunset and meet VFS alum, Lynn, at The Cat & Fiddle.

*****This seriously needs to be a thing in major tourist destination cities. When you’re too far from your hostel/hotel and need a little break, you just know you’d pay $15 for a clean place to sleep for a couple of hours.

sny5ecAVJruGVQE89YoC3hMtdwtIuCyMpnTX9d0Cv10Sunset Blvd street art.

Lynn is super awesome and had a lot of great advice. (Combined advice article is forthcoming.) We had a drink and a snack then headed back onto the Blvd in search of the Nerd Melt Showroom. The Nerd Melt is a comic book/graphic novel/action figure Mecca with a back room built for storytelling, sketch, and stand-up shows.

That night was a storytelling event called Risk! and the theme was “freaky.” I love storytelling nights. (Really looking forward to the Rain City Chronicles‘ Love Hangover when I’m back in Vancouver. (Tickets still available, but they go fast!)) We settled in and it was quite the show. There were hilarious stories and heartbreak stories and meth stories and ghosts stories. It’s so cool to hear someone share something that’s meant so much to them. I sincerely recommend finding a storytelling night to go to, whatever city you live in.

Whenever you’re in L.A., though, I insist you check out Nerd Melt’s website. They’ve got so many shows with tons of recognizable actors and just quality entertainment. It’s a great addition to the UCB and Groundlings circuit. Thanks so much, Lynn, for taking me!!

Of Last Week

National flags made of their country’s traditional food. Exactly what it sounds like. And super cute.

(Online) dating in “No Fun City*” aka Vancouver.  A few well written stories.

All the places Canadians can get holiday/work visas. Whaaat? We have so many options!

Anna Kendrick is the bestest; and the writer of this ad deserves an award.

Vulture wrote a really interesting article about the history of the selfie. 

*Other people’s words; not mine.


Movie: Normally I like to stay positive and recommend only things that are SUPER awesome, but I would be remiss if I didn’t warn you of the atrocity I saw last week. Now you’re all smart people so you probably weren’t going to see it anyway but just in case, please, PLEASE don’t pay to see That Awkward Moment. I agree with this review that describes Zac Efron’s character as a sociopath, but it’s so much worse than that. I LOVE romantic comedies but TAM used the usually fun tropes in atrocious and offensive ways. I almost walked out multiple times. (Will I watch it again someday? Probably. But I’m a real glutton for punishment.)