Wright peak

Thursday, 21 January 2016

"Why are you going hiking in the cold? Are you crazy?!" my mom kept yelling.

A week later...

"Don't you want to try hiking in winter? It's so beautiful! You can have my friend's equipment and we'll do an easy one!"

"Yes! When?!"

So, we went hiking yesterday and my cousin came as well. Wright peak is supposedly intermediate and it should've taken us 5 hours. It's a short little hike with nice views. However, it took us nearly 5 hours just to go up, and my mom didn't even make it. The whole hike ended up taking us 7 hours.

The temperature was cold, but bearable. It was around -16°C at the base, and probably near -30°C at the top. It was packed near the top; it would've been easier to switch out of crampons into snowshoes, but it was so cold that we chose to continue without switching. Above treeline conditions deteriorated quickly as we approached the summit. "Can we go back? Let's just say that we got to the top? I can't walk anymore..." my mom said as soon as we got above treeline. "Can you go behind that rock and wait there then?" I told her, as me and my cousin carried on.

The top was windy, visibility was poor and we couldn't see anything. Wright peak is actually surrounded by mountains that form a corridor that traps the wind, so it is often hit hard. It is only the 16th highest mountain of the Adirondacks, but number 1 for wind factor. My eyelashes and some hair that was sticking out of my balaclava were coated with ice. In my head, I was thinking, we can't take too long because my mom will get cold fast behind that rock, and we couldn't even see her anymore....but after reaching every "fake" summit, we realized that the real summit is further up.

After a while, I saw my cousin that was ahead of me with a thumbs up. Yup, we finally reached the top. Unfortunately, there was nothing to see due to poor weather condition.

On the descent, my mom wanted to snap more photos to tell her friends how cool she is, haha. The hike was pretty hard for her. "I can't walk anymore!" she said several times, and she actually had 2 cramps. "Do you want to spend the night here then?" I asked.

I knew we would have to hike out in the dark, but it wasn't too bad. I love those slides on the descent.

Winter conditions are sometimes unforgivable, your margin of error is much smaller, you get cold when you walk too slow, you're tired and you ache all over...but a week later, you think it wasn't that bad and you do it again!

No more sex

Friday, 15 January 2016

I'm just writing this to remind myself to not have sex in 2016.

What a weird thing to write about, or what a weird goal you might think...

Long story short, I've had many one-nights when I was younger, I even lost my virginity to a one-nighter. How fucked up. I don't remember how or what got me into this, but basically I thought I was invincible and didn't see the consequences. That being said, the way I viewed sex was mostly a one-time thing with no strings attached. I never had a boyfriend and never fell in love.

Until one day, I told a bad joke that changed everything. From then on, I just felt very dysfunctional. Without going into details, I can only say that dating became hard. Sometimes, I only see what I've always known. People say that physical intimacy is the doorway to emotional intimacy, and I want to agree with this, but deep down, it's not a doorway but a barrier. I can never truly be myself.

Coming to this decision isn't anything difficult, it isn't something I had to think about for a long time...it simply feels like it makes sense. I think I'll be a lot happier that way.


Wednesday, 6 January 2016

I am a few days late...but 2015 was pretty unbelievable. It was filled with adventures, and to me, an adventure doesn't have to be anything grand; it can be as simple as doing just one little thing different than before. I really don't know how everything happened, but I know it's meant to be.

My life is almost upside down right now; I went from having a stable job to doing nothing similar. I blamed others for choosing a safe path, but I also chose a safe path all along. It made sense to choose a path towards comfort, security, and stability.

...climbing mountains in ice old weather doesn't make sense.
...travelling alone as a woman doesn't make sense.
...not having a stable job doesn't make sense.
...seeking some great perhaps doesn't make sense.

The truth is, we can't just sit by and say we've already made our decisions, finished our striving, lived our adventure by getting a 9-5 job or by starting a family. I guess it's something that is always in the back of the mind of a 9-5er, why am I working all the time, and what else I can do with my life...Sometimes we're stuck in currents that won't let us go...but nobody has it figured out; we're all trying to figure out our path. That's okay because the joy is in the journey and no one has the answers, not even the wise old men...

...but I think those adventures come pretty close to the real answer...

This year, I slept at a king's palace in India, spent new year's at Taj Mahal, sailed in sacred Ganges, jumped off a moving train, survived the White Mountains, slid down Noonmark, slept alone in the woods, found a new job and got fired, drove 1000km to our land's end with friends, crawled in a cave, cooked pizza over campfire, attempted to camp with my mom to end up sleeping in the car, introducing new friends to hiking, watched whales on a Kayak, explored ruins, joined mountain nomads for a cup of tea, rode camels and mules, slept under the stars in mighty Sahara, explored tunnels in Pyramids, sailed down the Holy Nile, fell in love with colorful Barcelona, went on a boat cruise in romantic Paris, climbed the dome of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome....everything was magical and confronting all at once.

It is disturbing how our potential weakens due to our society's defense of the comfortable norm. Pride is not at the forefront of my feelings...I just feel fortunate to have the strength and the health to experience all that 2015 have brought!

I don't have resolutions for the new year, but I hope I can learn to be more open-minded, to not let pride get in the way of life's most beautiful things, and be patient enough to not settle for less...

Big Slide, take 2

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Today is Tuesday.

Everybody is working today, so I went alone to Big Slide for a little day hike, which took about 6 hours, nothing too crazy. Last time I went to this mountain, I brought some people who never hiked before. One girl had a cotton t-shirt and was freezing, and nobody brought microspikes except me...so, we had to give up.

My biggest worries were the cold and the possibility of having to hike back in the dark...and because it's Tuesday, it means nobody will find me if I get stuck in the woods for whatever reason. Ice cubes were forming inside my water bottle, and I kept moving because I was scared that the cold would hit me. Luckily, everything went well...and the view was so awe-inspiring! Winter landscapes and wilderness are so beautiful and magical.

It was all worth it!


Friday, 18 December 2015

How I got into Minimalism is a long story.

I'm a regular girl raised in a Chinese family. My parents had high expectations of me. I knew from a very young age that I absolutely had to get to University, even though I had no idea what I wanted to be. I was creative and excelled in arts, but I went on to study accounting. I graduated with mediocre grades but somehow made it to one of the biggest accounting firms with a somewhat respectable tittle.

Growing up, I was very reserved and lacked confidence. I did not strongly stand for anything and hence, I fell for most things. I was influenced by friends and I've been delusioned into excessive consumerism of this world. I worked at a job to help support a lifestyle that I supposedly wanted. I spent my precious life and energy consuming things, whether it's the latest technology or the most fashionable clothes, to impress, to conform and compete. A couple of years ago, I even thought of settling for a man I did not love, because this was what society told me to do. I've cried because I don't understand what my life has come to. I was over-worked, stressed and exhausted.

Deep inside, I was also a free-spirit. Often a little spark of idea led me to embark on a crazy adventure. When I went to Africa, I was not able to carry much due to the space that my camping equipment required. During that month, I lived with the wilderness, the mountains, the nature, the rivers...I did not have access to hot water, I walked around barefoot, and I lived with the basics. I was reminded what happiness was all about, and how little we actually needed to feel that. Looking at that vast land and beautiful sunset fulfilled me...

When I came back home from that trip, something changed in me. It got me thinking about my lifestyle, my values and what I stand for. My attitude towards material possessions changed, not immediately of course, but slowly. It made me wanted to live simply. Consumerism suddenly made me feel sad. The more stuff you have, the more stuff you need, the more you need to work. This is the vicious cycle of consumerism.Why do people work an unfulfilling job to pay for things they do not need or want, that added no value to their lives? Why do people feel this need to fill their houses with things that aren't meaningful? Just to represent their wealth? What has the world come to? The stuff we own, end up owning us. In a way, we created our own hell on earth.

Travelling developed my self-awareness, and I learned to have confidence in what I believed in. When I backpacked in the white mountains, I lived out of my backpack and only carried what I needed. One more possession was another weight on my shoulder. Every time I backpack, I'm reminded of how little we actually need to thrive. It keeps me grounded.

I'm inspired by the tiny-house movements, by a boy who traveled in a school backpack across Africa by thumbing lifts, a man who lived out of a Prius, being able to fit all belongings in one suitcase, people quitting high-paying corporate jobs to sell ice cream in a developing country, people being self-sufficient by growing their own food...but of course, you don't have to be all of that to be a minimalist.

I'm drawn to nature, simplicity, the basics...and uncluttered spaces. A year ago, I was shopping for storage and now, I'm donating most stuff I own. It feels very liberating. However, decluttering is not only an external process, but internal as well; it's to actively choose to not subscribe to this excessive consumerism in our world, to let go of internal baggage, to make space for what makes me thrive. I'm allowing myself to focus on me, and what I value.

...but, my journey has just started...I can't say that I always make the right decisions, but I'm constantly questioning myself and what I stand for....and I'm slowly unbecoming the person that I'm not.


Monday, 7 December 2015

Two years ago in Africa, a friend asked me if I had any regrets.

I've acted delusionally so many times; drunken flirting, ill-advised text messages, mixed signals and whatnot. I've been a creep, an emotional slob. I've planned romantic proposals and schemed revenges. I've hurt people. I've driven people far away from me and I've embarrassed some. I've been heartbroken and thought about fleeing the country.

You grow older and you know what it's like to see the ones that you loved getting married. You start to think that your capacity of falling in love depletes with age. Your life becomes less dramatic, you get a 9-5 job, you see the world clearly and you're accomplishing things. You want to meet a good person, someone who is sane, someone kinder and more patient, someone who you swear you will be a better person for. It's all so admirable but suffocating. 

I felt like a sociopath sometimes, and it made me feel good. I miss that state of myself; I wasn't at my best but I was at my most humane. Through travelling, I'm reminded of that. I'm reminded what passion is all about. It's okay to be crazy. Nothing is ever too late. Be open-minded and you will be given chances when you’re ready.

I've met people who have never done those crazy things, and I believe those people are innocent of true passion, and I cannot relate. As for me, I've done crazy things in life, but I definitely don't have regrets.

Of course, the outcomes were not always what I wished for, and there were things I could've done differently. However, for everything I undertook, I was ready to accept failure. Regrets are things you didn't do, and not things you did...and I know that I've done everything that I could.

It took me 2 years to write this because I used to think I had this one big regret; a hole in my life. I've blamed myself for what I did, I've apologized and I've forgiven...and I've finally come to the conclusion that there is nothing to regret. I always tried my best and I was myself the whole time...and although I'm not perfect, I don't regret who I am.

"Do you have any regrets?" I return the question.

"Life is too short for regrets."


Thursday, 3 December 2015

Alexandria might be my favorite city in Egypt. It was founded by Alexander the Great and was once the most powerful city after Rome in the ancient world. The reason I like it is because it retains that nostalgic and historical feel with its crumbling buildings, excellent sea food and amazing Mediterranean waterfront. It's the kind of place that you get the feel by just wandering around rather than sightseeing.

While we were there, we visited the Fort Qaitbay, which is the most important defensive fortress along the Mediterranean cost, the catacombs, which was a little creepy but definitely worth it, and finally the Library of Alexandria. You might think; why a library? Well, this library was constructed after the destruction of the greatest knowledge centre in ancient history, a place where cultures met. The architecture is spectacular, probably among the best I've seen in the modern world. There is so much thoughts behind the design concept. It has 4 museums inside, galleries, rare books, a planetarium, research center, etc. It also has the largest reading room in the world, can you imagine? It is definitely my favorite place in Alexandria.

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