I found this review of 2019 in my notes recently. Can’t believe I was complaining about travelling too much!
2019 was a year of travel. In total I spent exactly 1/3rd of the year out of Canada, and a higher fraction outside of Vancouver. While this initially felt like the milennial dream, I soon started finding this annoying for the following reasons:
- I find it impossible to sleep on an airplane.
- Constantly worrying about packing gets stressful.
- Days out of Canada don’t count towards citizenship eligibility.
- I have less time to cultivate a new Vancouver social circle.
- Nutrition suffers when I’m buying food instead of making it. This is the most annoying part of travelling.
- Fitness suffers - I like having a schedule for going to the gym.
While lack of sleep makes me cranky, it’s not a big deal at least right now - I’m sure as I get older the actual process of picking up a bag, going to the airport, being on a plane, etc. will start becoming more exhausting. For now, the major annoyance is not being able to eat home-cooked meals; I guess if you’re the kind of person who can eat salads/other healthy-but-bland food, then this wouldn’t matter too much, as capitalism increasingly wakes up to the exploitative potential of healthy food, but I enjoy food and can’t stand uncreative salads/soups. Plus, my energy and mood takes a hit because I’m not able to make my cardiac muscles justify their existence. I’m working on evolving a robust system of personal fitness that is not thrown out of whack because of geographical displacement, but it’s still unfortunately a WIP.
On the other hand, for all my complaining, I find myself hating my life if I stay too long in Vancouver. I start getting serious hamster-on-a-wheel vibes. Perhaps I need to do frequent shorter weekend trips with Canada friends.
I visited the following places in 2019:
- Hawaii, Oahu for Valentine’s Day
- Prague, Czech Republic for IETF
- Victoria, BC with parents
- Seattle and Bellevue, WA, thrice - twice for work, once with Dad to visit Seattle Museum of Flight
- Portland, Oregon for work
- Phoenix, Arizona to visit family, twice
- Mesa Verde, Colorado for camping
- Zion and Bryce National Parks for camping with family
- Lake Mead for camping with family
- Las Vegas, NV, twice - once for DEFCON, once with family
- Boston, MA for a conference at Harvard Kennedy School
- Montreal, QC for IETF
- Singapore for IETF
- Bali, Indonesia for Thanksgiving
- India for a longish winter break
- *Hawaii. *Oahu, Hawaii was gorgeous. I was convinced it would be an expensive trip that would not feel authentic, but figured that it makes sense to go since I was now on the West Coast. I was wrong! About the authenticity part - Hawaii is expensive to live in. Oahu has its own unique vibe, that somehow does not feel very in-your-face commercial unlike mainland America. It was my first time on an island; since then I’ve been to a couple more and all of them share a relaxed way-of-life: some favourite memories from Oahu include drinking (reasonably priced!) beer and eating fish while watching an absolutely spectacular sunset. It’s incredible that there are people who can live there and do this every single day. Other highlights include renting a car and going around the island, seeing a sea turtle on a beach and eating fantastic poké. We did a Valentine’s Day cruise where we got to see a mommy humpback whale and her baby frolicking around close to our boat for an hour or so - whales are incredibly cool. Apart from that though we were a bit too cost-sensitive in retrospect, and didn’t do any water activities. It was the off-season, which meant that our Airbnb was not too expensive and the beaches weren’t too crowded, but also meant that we were often running away from storm clouds. It would be nice to go when the water is a bit warmer.
- Prague. Prague was all about the carbohydrates aka it was awesome. I went there for IETF 104, but the highlight as always was hanging out with cool peeps. Amelia’s friend is a local upcoming Pirate Party politician who invited us to a protest against EU’s link tax, which might have been an interesting experience except that we were 20 minutes late, and this being Europe, by the time we got there Amelia and the other folks had given their speeches and we were greeted to weirdly intense dubstep music playing and… nothing else. I went to some great local restaurants for Czech food, which is literally meat and potatoes and bread (not that I’m complaining). My favourite memory was hanging out with now-good-friend Gurshabad and new friend Sripriya outside the Kuta Hora Bone Church and drinking Pilsners after Pilsners in a biergarten as the light faded from golden to auburn to indigo. I have since developed a fancy for the aesthetic of conversations with friends in beer gardens in summers - similar to how Americans adore wekend brunch for its decadence 🥑. It was also great to finally see Charles bridge, which was pretty much the only thing on my bucket list of places to see ever since I was an over-romanticizing child.
- Camping. This year was the first year I went camping - I’d only done backpacking once before in BC. It’s so nice to have a nice, comfortable campsite with hot showers and firewood on-demand. And you still get the experience of cooking and eating on a fire out in the open, which is honestly the only reason my family goes camping.
- Mesa Verde is a national park in Colorado. We camped right outside the national park next to a fast-flowing river in late summer, which meant that the nights were freezing. Mesa Verde is famous for ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings, which are basically literal cities carved into solid rock. Cliff dwellers lived here from 700 AD to about 1300 AD - no one really knows why they left. Highlight was watching the sun set on the rock city, casting long shadows on the red rock rooms that have been empty for a thousand years and making them seem even emptier, their solidity accentuating their vacancy.
- Bryce Canyon, Utah. Bryce was cool because of the hoodoos - oddly-shaped pillars of reddish rock that look like alien eggs. We camped inside; this is also where I was presented with my first National Park annual membership card! We got a visit from a hunting bobcat at night, though the bobcat didn’t stick around for long after it had caught its rodent prey.
- Zion was a unique experience because of The Narrows, which is a, well, narrow gorge only 6 meters wide and 600 metres tall. We got to go water trekking - we had to rent special water boots, though in hindsight it have been more comfortable to wear sandals with a good grip. One regret with Zion was that we didn’t have more time to trek up the river.
- *Lake Mead. *One good thing about camping is that once you have invested in the gear, the marginal cost of taking people along is not much. We wanted to go see a Cirque du Soleil show in Vegas from Phoenix, and flights + hotel rooms were becoming ridiculously expensive with a family our size, so we decided to camp on the banks of Lake Mead. It was my first time camping when it was not freezing at night, and it was hot. I did not enjoy being in a tent, but the people who were sleeping in the back of the truck without the top up enjoyed it a lot. Highlight was renting a big boat and motoring to the middle of Lake Mead and eating and drinking and swimming there.
- DEFCON. *My first *DEFCON was… an experience. There was a constant sense of FOMO even while just being at the event. We tried planning out our schedule but ended up wishing we’d gone to less talks and done more competitions and hung out at more villages. Highlight was seeing a talk by Roger Dingledine and later talking to him about PEARG and pluggable transports.
- *Boston. *I went to Boston for the workshop on organized by Niels, Corinne and Beatrice and hosted by Harvard Kennedy School. It was a stimulating two-days - there should be a public report out at some point.
- Montreal. Montreal was Montreal - windy, cold, warm friends, amazing cafes, construction.
- *Singapore. *Singapore was more fun this time, though as hot as last time. It constantly boggles me what a small city it is, and I was able to just walk everywhere (though the heat made that a tad uncomfortable sometimes). The best part was definitely the food - we went to the Tekka Center which had several amazing desi food stalls; I got a biryani that was by far the best I’ve had. Gotta love street food in this part of the world. Though tbh all the food in this part of the world is just superior (slightly biased opinion). Even got to have some sugarcane juice!
- *Bali. *was gorgeous. Best holiday ever. Will try to write more when I get a chance.