Tag Archives: Once in a lifetime

New Years Eve in Sydney, Australia

December 31, 2013

Sydney, Australia

I found my way to Darling Harbour, and stopped in the King’s Brewhouse to meet up with my buddy Rob for an ice cold pint. He works this evening, so I am spending New Years on my own, but we made plans to meet up later. After midnight, I would come back to Darling Harbour, find wifi, and we would meet up.


I left the bar and began my wander over to the Sydney Opera House. Finding out there were 2.6 million people already lining the entirety of Sydney Harbour should have been the first clue: that was the last time I would see Rob today. I shuffled past millions (literally) of people, and found myself in the centre of a parking lot, turned picnic area. Over the loudspeaker I heard an announcement telling us that the section we were in was now at capacity, and nobody else is allowed in. I began to scope the area. My plan was to find an empty space among the throngs, and just sit myself down next to some nice looking people. The criteria was easy; youngish. And then I found them! Three young ladies, indiscreetly drinking wine, sitting next to a big empty space, on the other side of which, were three handsome and very tanned young men, doing an even worse job of concealing their wine! I asked the girls if I could join them, and they allowed it. We began chatting. The men on my other side realized we were all backpackers and joined our conversation. Our group was so wonderful. Two ladies from Sweden, one from Spain, a Dutch guy, two boys from France, and a Canadian!

40 minutes to go…


We all had alcohol in our bags and were all doing a laughable job of concealing it. We continued to drink and get to know each other. The conversation we had was entertaining to say the least. Someone would say something that was super witty and funny, but nobody would really laugh. So, they would have to explain what they meant. It was lovely. The five different first languages, the noise from the millions (literally) of people around us, and the irresponsible amount of wine we had all drunk up to this point, didn’t really help the conversations.

25 minutes to go…

I went to a stand nearby and bought a few light up toys. They were light up swords, and were exactly what our wine-saturated group needed. There was a little boy nearby our blanket, who was also wielding a light up sword. I challenged him to a duel. We combatted our swords like proper knights, and when he sliced my side with his light, I made a huge scene as I died. The people around us cheered and laughed. The two French guys grabbed their swords and attacked with a vengeance. The little boy sliced them, and they too, acted out excessive death scenes. The crowd around us went wild. The boy bowed, sheathed his blade, and walked back to his mom.

10 minutes to go…

The noise around us grew. The once empty spaces in the crowd had now filled up, people were almost yelling to hear each other, and I could hear a lot more drunken singing in the distance. The loudspeakers began to play music. All of a sudden, the crowd joined in the countdown, 10…9…8…7…6… I looked around at my new friends, drunkenly counting down, swaying back and forth, faces to the sky…5…4…3…2… My face began to hurt from smiling so much. Tears of joy began to well up in my eyes…1… Oh. My. God. The fireworks lit up the sky. Everywhere were fireworks. Everywhere. I looked on in amazement, and childlike joy. There were seven different points from which the fireworks were being lit. In front of me was a full 180 degrees of colour and explosions and magic. I couldn’t believe the beauty. I looked on with wonder. As the blasts echoed off the buildings behind us, and around the Harbour, the crowd burst into song. There I was, in the midst of 2.6 million people singing Auld Lang Syne.

Happy New Years, world!


Celebrating Midsommer in Sweden

June, 2015

I arrived at Bastad station and met up with Rebecka and her friends. This weekend I would be celebrating Midsommer, a wondrous and whimsical Swedish holiday. First order of business— Midsommer crowns. Andrea, the resident florist, arrived with bushels of flowers and we all began fabricating our head attire. Fredrik’s crown was probably the most impressive, but Rebecka’s ended up being the perfect size and maybe my favourite. I was impressed with mine.


Considering it was my first time ever fastening together a bunch of flowers and creating a flowery head piece, I thought I did quite well! next was the Maypole. This quickly became my favourite part of the holiday. We erected a big, cross-shaped Maypole, and decorated it with lots of flowers and leaves. We hung big wreaths under each arm. It ended up looking a bit like an upside down penis. But it was beautiful and was fun to decorate! We covered the thing in greenery and used up all the leftover flowers.


Then, as if this holiday couldn’t get any more whimsical and wholesome, we all joined hands and danced around the Maypole. Everyone laughed and sang Swedish songs, while we all skipped around the pole. I was laughing my butt off. THEN we danced like frogs and sang a song about frogs. I love this holiday. I love this holiday so much.

And then we started drinking. I knew my friends back home would look at me sideways if I told them we danced like frogs around a penis shaped Maypole covered in flowers, and weren’t drunk.


We all gathered around the table and began dinner. Another Midsommer tradition during dinner is to drink Schnapps. The idea behind this, is that if you drink a little bit of schnapps in between servings, you will have more room for food! The schnapps are about 30-40% alcohol and only poured to about 1/3 of the shot glass. Phew! I had one and that was that. It seemed though, the more schnapps the boys drank, the louder and more frequent the singing became. Each song leads to a cheers and another little shot. Phew! These boys can drink.

Rebecka, bless her, felt bad that I didn’t know any of the songs, so she tried to teach me. She sang a line and then I repeated it. We got through the whole song and she said, “wow! You are picking it up so fast!” She clearly can’t hear what I am actually saying…

The party was in full swing. People were dancing, drinking, laughing, chatting. Then Hampus turned off the music. “It’s time for a night swim” he said. Yay!!! I grabbed a towel from the closet in the washroom, and joined the others outside. We began the walk down the steep hill. I may have been drunker than I thought, because I started singing the Indiana Jones theme song and didn’t really stop. Fredrik put his towel around his neck like a cape and I held the end out so it looked like it was blowing in the wind. We passed by the neighbour’s house and they watched us walk by. I was softly singing Indian Jones, and Fredrik walked with a towel cape around his neck.


We found the beach! It was actually harder to find than it sounds like it would be. As soon as we walked into the sand, my clothes were off. I ran alongside my friends through the sand and into the VERY cold and VERY shallow water. We ran for ages and the water never actually passed our knees. There I was, 2 am, standing knee deep in the North sea, tits out, in my undies, watching the sun rise! How beautiful is this place?! Because it was so shallow, we all ran in, and then almost immediately ran back out. I dried myself off and put my clothes back on. I joined the rest of the group for a shot of gin, and we began our ascent back to the house. The hill was steep, but it felt good to arrive at the top. I sat on the stoop at the back door for a bit and watched the sky begin changing colours. Man oh man, how beautiful. It is 4am, and the sun is on its way up. Happy Midsommer, Sweden!


Helan går sjung hopp fallerallanallanlej, helan går sjung hopp fallerallanlej

Och den som inte helan tar, den heller inte halvan får

HELAN GÅÅÅÅÅR (this is when you drink your tiny shot of pure alcohol)


My version was about falafels

Searching for the Red Beer Fridge on Gili Air

February 2014

All week, I’ve seen a Canadian hat bobbing amongst the hatless heads every so often. It’s like a beacon of patriotism. I finally had to say something to the guy wearing it. I walked up to him, “I just had to say hello. You have this Canadian hat, and I love it.” We became fast friends. His name is James. His friend is Morgan, from America, who actually looks like Fabio. They were fun and friendly— just my type of people. I asked James if he has seen the red beer fridge commercial by Molson Canadian. He shook his head no. I used his phone to show him the most amazing Olympics Ad I’ve seen in a long while. (Watch it here). We watched the video at the bar, and watched when the guys point to an island on the map— Gili Air! The neighbouring island to the one we are on. Oh my gosh! We should go find this guy! James was SO excited. Fabio was up for an adventure too, and they both agreed to meet me at 11am tomorrow morning at the pier. I am so excited!!

Zarina and I went down to the pier at 11am. I saw the beacon. James’ red hat bobbing around the harbour. I jumped up and ran over. We found a boat to take us to Gili Air! We showed the captain the Molson Ad and he smiled. “This your friend?” We all nodded. “This is our Canadian friend.” And just like that, we were on a boat, sailing the waves. We all agreed that we would treat ourselves to an awesome fish lunch or something. Absolutely.

Zarina, the happy adventurer.

We arrived in Gili Air and jumped off the boat. We immediately began asking people if they knew Morgan from Canada. We went to Ocean 5 to eat some Nasi Goreng and take a quick dip in their pool. We showed a few fellow Canadians the commercial and they wished us luck on our quest. After lunch, we chose a direction and began to walk it. Fabio brought some portable speakers and some really funky music. He played it as we walked down the path. We all danced. It was so fun. I love dancing down the street of a remote tropical island. Locals were sitting along the path, in berogaks, and other various huts, and would smile, laugh, point, and some would even get up and join us! It was brilliant. We were quite the sight. We decided to put the dance party on hold and ask again about the red fridge. We went into Safari’s bar.

img_9479We asked the bartenders about Morgan from Canada, and they told us to walk back the way we came and to the other side of the harbour. Ok! I took a quick swim in the ocean, because I am in paradise, and the ocean was literally calling my name with each wave that gently crashed against the coral, “betttthhhh, betttthhhh….” Fabio and James bought to go cocktails, and we were back on our dancing path.

Morgan, AKA Fabio, right at home at the bar.

Some kids ran up to us to see where the music was coming from. We stopped walking, but kept dancing and they just thought it was the funniest thing. Then Fabio pulled out balloons from his vest! The man carries balloons with him to give to children! He blew one up, and then let it go so it would spin and fly around the little boy. They all shrieked with laughter. We showed them how to play keep up, basically you don’t let the balloon touch the ground- you keep it up- and were back on our merry way.


We walked passed the harbour, and passed Ocean 5. We continued to miander along the path, smiling and waving at the locals. I suggested we go into another bar to ask again. Paradisio’s or something. James asked a table of local guys all sitting around a table if they knew Morgan from Canada. One Indonesian man stands up and turns around to face us. “I am Dean,” he said, “and Morgan is a good friend of mine.” No way! Dean is kind of the main Gili Air guy. He controls all of the investments that are made on the island and has a lot of control with the development. He was also in the Molson Ad… They invited us to sit with them while they finished lunch. We each ordered a Bintang, and took a seat. Then they pushed their food towards us. Steamed rice, grilled fish, spicy vegetables, oh boy. Everything we hoped for today was coming to fruition! The boys passed around a big ol’, Gili air sized joint after the meal, and offered to us. What hospitality!

Dean, the main man.

Dean told us that Morgan actually isn’t here, but he is actually flying back today from Canada. We just missed him. But you know what is here? The big red fridge is here! Dean walked us through the back alleys of Gili Air, past bungalows and new buildings. I said, “Gili Air is growing fast, and Dean said, “not if I can help it.” He doesn’t want Air to turn into another Trawangan and is doing everything to stop it- petitions, invoking certain laws and bylaws to ensure no roads are put in, no horns are to be installed on horse carts, etc. He also leads a group in which every Sunday, the children are taken along the beach and help clean up the garbage.

We turned a corner and there was Morgan’s office. Dean unlocked, and slid the door open. There it was! The big, red fridge! James and I looked at each other with the silliest grins on your faces. Fabio and Zarina decided to sit outside and let the Canadians have a minute of patriotism. James and I took some photos and rejoiced in the happiness we were feeling as a result of the perfect day we were having. We wrote Morgan a note to thank him and his friends for inspiring our beautiful day. We took some more photos and left.


We walked back to the harbour with Dean, and found our boat man. Just like that. It was the most perfect day. Everything just worked. The timing, the manifestations of our dreams, the big red fridge. I stood on the bow of the boat the whole way back, wind in my hair, surfing the waves. I felt like I was on top of the world. Entirely flying. Today will always remind me that when you are open to beautiful and wonderful things happening, you meet people who will spontaneously join you on epic adventures across water and land.

Later, I met a man named Gamons on the balcony of the bar. He was a lovely little Indonesian man who asked me, “do you enjoy?” “Do I enjoy what?” I asked. He just said, “do you enjoy?” I nodded. I said my life is a sequence of beautiful moments that has connected into a never ending stream of them. He smiled, high-fived me, said, “enjoy your beautiful moments”, and walked away.