38,870 km, 111 days, 14 cities, 11 countries, 3 continents, 1 life changing experience.

38,870 km, 111 days, 14 cities, 11 countries, 3 continents, 1 life changing experience.

Have you ever felt unhappy with the way your life is going?  A little lost perhaps?  Some call it a quarter life crisis and sure enough, I've had one of those in 2013 triggered by a chain of unpleasant events that occurred at the same time; if there was a lottery for unluckiness, I think I probably have hit the jackpot for the month of January.  My friends and colleagues know me as a passionate and driven individual who's "got his shit together".  I thought so myself as well at the time, with my career and finances on track, you know, the whole "owning a car, buying a place, settling down" mindset that we've been raised to pursue.  Little did I know what I was missing, until my world stopped in the beginning of 2013.

The beginning, when my world stopped.

I think I totally jinxed myself at the start of the year with a fat status update on facebook that said "2013 is off to a great start!"  Legit.  Story goes like this, shortly after that status update three out of the four pillars in my life collapsed.  Pillar #1, family broke apart; dad left the family and caused some unnecessary drama.  Pillar #2, a new job I started was not working for me; a very corporate culture with little to no room to socialize, and I felt like I was in a prison.  Pillar #3, an unfamiliar territory for me; I met the man of my dreams, or so I thought.  Being inexperienced as I am, I fell for him hard, too hard.  I won't go into details, but let me just say what he did was not classy at all and shattered my heart beyond words for the first time in my life.  So with three of my pillars down, I was very fortunate to still have my fourth pillar as support; my friends.  If it wasn't for my friends, I would not be here today.  You all know who you are and I can't thank you enough for being there for me.  Even though I had that one pillar left, as you know a table with just one leg won't stand, neither did I.

Chapter 0, they think I'm crazy.

Most people's story will drag on or go around in circles from this point forward; some will resort to drinking and partying ignoring the problem, others will simply let themselves fall into a downward spiral of depression.  However, I'm not the type of person that would sit around and hope for things to get better, nor would I waste time and money drinking my butt off pretending life is good.  If I'm unhappy, I do something about it.  Having said that, what I did shocked most of my friends; some even thought I was crazy but I don't blame them, because it was not something anyone of the norm would do.  Shock #1, I quit my job without having another job lined up.  In a society so conservative and so career focused, most would consider this insane.  All I cared for at the time was my personal well being, not money, not job security.  Was I afraid to be unemployed?  Sure I was, but it didn't stop me from turning the tides around to be happy because somehow I realized that Happiness is Priceless.  Shock #2, the most spontaneous thing that I have ever decided on: I'm going to spend a month in Africa to volunteer, and I'm leaving in 2 weeks.  To put things into perspective on how crazy this sounded at the time; for the past 6 years I have not travelled further than to Vancouver (which is not very far from Calgary), and here I am going to another continent with a very different culture all by myself for an entire month.  It was a real challenge I gave myself, breaking out of my comfort zone in every single aspect; I have OCD towards being clean (I refuse to eat ribs with my hands, even if I did I would have to wash my hands constantly even between breaks), I have a really sensitive stomach (diarrhea is no stranger to me every time I travel, being semi-lactose intolerant doesn't help either), and being spontaneous was never a word in my books (I plan everything in my life as if it was my full time job).  To top it off, I was quite ignorant about what I was getting into or what was happening in the rest of the world at the time; apparently there's an election in Kenya during the time that I'll be there, and the last time it happened there were riots with 1,500 killed and 250,000 displaced.  I found out a few days before I fly out, oh shit.  But that didn't stop me, I wasn't scared at all, I had nothing to lose.

Chapter 1, finding myself in Africa.  (Nairobi Kenya)

They say You Must Get Lost Before You Can be Found.  At the time I left Calgary I was a lost broken hearted soul; coming out of Africa it was another story.  So what happened?  I couldn't tell you the eureka moment because I don't think there was one.  However what I can tell you is that my life was forever changed by the people I've encountered and the moments we shared; from the volunteers to the locals, especially the little ones in Kibera.  It is an understatement to say that the bond we shared was magical.  We all came from different backgrounds all with our own stories and history, but one thing we all shared was a common goal: to make the world a better place.  It was not about who had the latest gadget, or how nice their new bag looks, none of that; It was not about what we Have, it was about what we Share.  Every volunteer touched me very deeply in different ways, and each and everyone of them taught me something new.  I'm a believer that you can learn something from everyone, whether it's something about yourself, about others or even about life in general.  The positive energy we all had were literally bouncing off one another creating a very warm, welcoming environment which allowed us to bond very quickly; it was and still is a family away from home.  To all my kaka's and dada's, asante sana.  For the very first time in my life, time seemingly did not exist; this is Africa (T.I.A.) or most locals would simply refer to it as Kenyan time.  Buses can have no schedule and it would be ok, shops can open as late as they want and it would be ok.  If that happened in North America, I think everyone would be ripping their hair out before lunch time hits.  The stress level was simply not there in Kenya, unnecessary stress.  Hakunamatata, things will work out eventually.  Not only did the culture inspired me, the kids in Kibera gave me a whole new perspective about life: we don't need a lot to be happy.  From the very first moment I walked through Kibera (the 2nd largest slum in Africa), I was greeted by a bunch of joyful children jumping up and down waving their hands asking us "How Are You?" repeatedly.  The smile on their faces were priceless.  It makes you wonder how can they possibly be so happy with barely anything in their lives?  The truth is, they are Content, they make do with what they have in life.  That is a value we can all learn from on this side of the world.  So I spent a month in Kenya doing volunteer work during the week, and going on safari, city excursions and the alike during the weekends.  Initially I only signed up for teaching at a school, but when I got there I was also introduced to the feeding program and I started helping out there as well; the chief of the area decides on which families require aid the most, and volunteers would pack beans and flour to deliver to these families.


As for teaching, I taught math at KAG Olympic Education Centre in Kibera and I now have a new found respect for all the teachers around the world because it is no easy job!  The hardest part for me was trying to get all the kids to pay attention, but reality was that not everyone will pay attention so I eventually just let it go.  However, when they do pay attentino, they were a smart bunch!  They breezed through the fraction problems I gave them so I decided to teach them something different; computer theory.  I drew diagrams of the different parts of a computer, from the monitor to the mouse.  Heck, I even taught them basic binary math.  During the week I was a volunteer, but during the weekends I was a hardcore tourist.  I went on a 3 day safari in Maasai Mara with a group of volunteers.  Unfortunately, we didn't see any "action" but we did however see a leopard, cheetah, female lion and cubs, elephants, giraffes, zebras, and many more within close proximity.

The magical sunset

The one thing that I have to mention is that the sunset, sunrise and night sky of Maasai Mara is easily the best I have ever seen in my life.  It was simply unreal!  Hell's Gate National park is also worth mentioning, the park where Lion King scenes were inspired from, so Pride Rock and the set where Mufasa died was there.  Everyone rode a bike except me, because I can't ride one…laugh it all out.  I also fed a giraffe, held a baby crocodile and leopard tortoise in my hands, and allowed monkeys to jump all over me for peanuts.  Moments like that were priceless.  Now onto the food.  Locals eat a very high carb diet, mostly flour and potatoes with beans.  Some of local food include Ugali (mixing flour and water into a block of dough, not my favourite), Mandazi (Kenya styled donuts without the hole, loved it), Samosas and Chipati.  Some of the more exotic things I've tried was crocodile meat and ostrich meat balls.  Crocodile meat tasted like very stiff and salty fish, I can probably use the word rotten to describe it so I didn't quite like it.  Ostrich meat ball was amazing, the meat was really tender and soft.  Overall, I would say my trip to Kenya was more than a success; I broke out of my comfort zone to try new things and help others.

Baby crocodile in my hands

I learned more during the month I spent there than I have ever learned in my life; one of the biggest take away is to Believe.  You can do anything if you put your mind to it.  Everything happens for a reason, and what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.  Kenya was truly a magical place that can touch anyone deeply, I know it has for me.  As cheesy as it sounds, not only have I found my lost self in Africa, my new self was stronger in every aspect.  I was ready, my adventure literally began here coming out of Africa.

Chapter 2, taking the new me for a spin. (Norwich England, Rome Italy, London England)

I strategically booked my flights so that I would give UK a visit on my way back home through London as the price was the same if I had just flew straight home.  I'm in the area, might as well right?  First stop, Norwich England.  If you remembered, my decision to go to Africa was pretty spontaneous and rushed with only 2 weeks time before I flew, so I didn't do much research ahead of time and literally just book my ticket with the cheapest option, and worry about everything else later.  Little did I know, Norwich had no hostels!  So, I took spontaneity to a whole new level; I booked the cheapest hotel in Norwich for 2 nights which gave me enough time see the cathedral, castle and the city, and then I'll bus into London to fly out to Rome.

Norwich England

Norwich is a small city in the Norfolk region and is not typically a popular tourist area, however I really liked it.  Everything is within walking distance, and the people there are generally very nice with small town values; I broke my umbrella in Kenya and the old man who works morning shifts at the hotel gave me one for free.  There wasn't much to do in Norwich, but the cathedral and castle museum was worth the time, lots of history.  The short but sweet time in Norwich came to an end and it is time for me to move onto the next destination, but guess what?  My bus leaves at 8:30am and I slept in because I was that tired, so tired I didn't even hear my alarm go.  It was an expensive sleep indeed; I had to shell out 50 pounds (nearly $100 CAD) for a train ride into London to catch my flight!  Oh yes I cringed alright, had it been my old self I think it would have ruined my trip for at least a few weeks.  But hey shit happens and being sad about won't change the fact that it had happened.

Money you can always make back, but the time lost weeping about something you can't change will never come back.

I literally brushed it off and moved on.  So, that's how I ended up with a detour to Rome, Italy for a week.  It was a great decision!  I was speechless, it was absolutely stunning.  Every monument and every plaza was filled with life and people were everywhere.  At night time, the monuments were truly magical and it really seemed like they came to life.  My favourite is the Trevi Fountain at night, words cannot describe how magical it was.

Rome Italy

Rome also had some of the best food I've ever had in my life!  Italian food is definitely up there for me and I would not stop talking about how good the food was.  If you haven't had an arancini in your life yet, please try one.  I also made some amazing new friendships, lived life to the fullest, a weeks time went by just like that.  It was time to head to the next destination; London England.  Life was good, until I got to the airport later than expected.  The bus to the airport took longer than expected because there was traffic.  However, even with such delay I was able to get to the airport with time to spare enough to check in.  The shitty part is, the airline I flew with was heavily understaffed, which caused me to miss my flight and did not offer me any compensation what so ever.  And so, I sucked it up yet again and paid for another flight for 105 euro (around $150 CAD).  This put me on the last possible flight for the evening, and just to make my day shittier the flight was not allowed to take off for another hour after everyone had boarded.  Everything happens for a reason, for this incident I met two lovely old couple on the plane who sat next to me.  They shared with me their life experiences and so have I.  They said one thing that captivated me:

Take it easy, you will get there in the end.

It aligns with what I've experienced in Africa; there's no need to rush, I have all the time I need.  It was true to an extent, I did eventually get to London England safe and sound….of the crickets chirping.  It was pass midnight and everything had already shut down, including the Tube.  I had only written down instructions to get to the hostel via Tube, I was stranded.  So having been through a day of airport drama, I was very exhausted.  However, I didn't panic a single bit, because I thought to myself what is the absolute worst case scenario that can happen?  Sleep in a park somewhere and wait until the morning?  I'm fine with that, I won't die and it sounded like an adventure.  At that point my stomach was growling as I hadn't had any food for a long period of time, so I walked around and found a McDonalds that was about to close at 2:00am.  Got some cheap food to fill my hunger needs, used their free wifi to figure out where I was.  Luckily I wasn't far from the hostel; either a 10 minute bus ride or 25 minute walk.  I chose the bus because I was physically exhausted with my backpacks and it was quite chilly at night.  All of a sudden rest seemed within reach, until I got to the hostel realizing that they did not have 24 hour reception.  The doors were locked, lights were out, and again I'm in the middle of somewhere I did not know.  I quickly looked into my notebook and I was so glad to see that I have written down the phone number for the hostel.  So I walked a block and found this 24 hour convenient store and asked if I could borrow a phone to call the hostel.  And so, I did and the owner told me to go back and he'll go downstairs to open the door for me.  I told him about my uneventful day and he was very understanding and he told me to just go to bed and we'll check in tomorrow morning.  It was 3:30am and I finally get to rest.  What a day huh?  I didn't panic, I didn't stress, and it's true you will eventually get there.  Again, stress test passed with flying colour I think.  This is the new me, having learned so much, coming so far, I am very proud of myself.  I realize that sometimes shit happens in life, so what if everything is thrown at me, what is the worst that can happen?

As long as I am healthy and living, everything else is just a bonus.

At that point, I knew for a fact that I am a different person, changed for the better.  London and Rome were very different.  Rome was self explanatory, you can literally walk anywhere and you will know that's a monument or a historical site.

London England

London was slightly different, it was bigger and you need to know where to go.  This is where I exhausted myself of museums, hey, I couldn't help it they were all free.  V&A, Natural History, Science museums were all amazing.  Tate Modern was too posh for me, I couldn't understand or appreciate the art but I guess it's not for everyone.  London is a beautiful and vibrant city, it's got a good mix of art and lifestyle that I would not hesitate to move there.  They say "if you are bored of London, you are bored of living", I couldn't agree more.  The most interesting thing about London that I found is that toothpaste prices are outrageous, probably double of what we normally pay here for!  London was great, it had lots for me to do, and it also had lots of places to relax with parks and cafes.  What a great way to wrap up my trip, and go back to my life?  What is life for me now?  I don't have a job lined up, I don't have a place to live, what now?

Chapter 3, break away and setting myself free. (Dublin Ireland, Edinburgh Scotland, Berlin Germany, Amsterdam Netherlands, Lisbon Portugal, Barcelona Spain)

Reality is what we make of it, our lives can be happy and exciting, or it can be dull and boring.  It is a matter of choice.  I've gone this far to find myself, why not take some time to learn more about myself and explore the world?  I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.  And so I did.  Grand European tour extended edition.

Dublin Ireland

First stop, Dublin Ireland filled with some of the most friendliest people I've ever encountered.  There's this one time I was trying to get to a place but didn't know which tram I was suppose to get on, and this couple was so nice; the husband hold the automatic tram doors open with his body, while the wife puts in some coins she had in her hand to get the ticket for me.  I was speechless, they did all they could to help a complete stranger.

If everyone cared, I believe our world would be a better place.

I also had the chance to experience many irish pubs!  I sure had an amazing time pub crawling.  Life there seemed very laid back, and people sure knows how to have a good time.  Oh, and the accents were so awesome too!  I went to the bridge where they filmed PS I Love You, however, no Gerard Butler there.  Although windy, it was beautiful to have seen Wicklow National Park.  Also went to the Guinness brewery, and I have to tell you, Guinness tastes better there.  Dublin was definitely one of my favourites.  Unfortunately, I dropped my DSLR camera and broke the lens, again I didn't cry about it.  It was about time I broke something!  It has been a long journey up until this point, there are no fairy tales with a perfect story!

Edinburgh Scotland

Next stop, Edinburgh Scotland.  I went from the friendliest place to the spookiest place, what a big contrast!  Edinburgh is filled with dark histories of witch burning, haunted grave yards and medieval castles.  I've also had a modernized traditional haggis dish, which is supposed to be made from sheep's heart, liver and lungs, stuffed inside their stomach.  However, due to new food safety regulations or something, they are not allowed to make it the traditional way.  I did get a taste of it though, just not the traditional stomach ball method.  It was different and I'm glad I tried it.  While in Scotland, I did not want to miss out on the famous Loch Ness.

Loch Ness Scotland

It took a long drive through the highlands to get to Loch Ness, but it was worth it.  I brought a sandwich with me and I sat facing Loch Ness for lunch, it was serene.  I had my eyes open to spot Nessie, but I didn't see her, maybe she retired.  Who knows.  Being in Edinburgh, the one regret I did have was that I didn't properly go up to Arthur's Seat.  If you ever had the chance to visit Edinburgh and want to go up Arthur's Seat,  make sure you go the correct way; take the left side along the backside up, not the deceiving staircase that looks like it will lead to it.  Oh well, I guess now I have an excuse to go back there one day.  I was told that Berlin Germany is one of if not the most open minded city out there, so I decided to check it out.

Berlin Germany

Berlin is filled with histories about the holocaust and world war II.  Having seen the holocaust memorial and the remains of part of the berlin wall, I quickly realized that the events did not happen too long ago, and all this happened at the very foot steps of where I was walking, the feeling was unreal.  Berlin also got some of the most amazing bars around.  I've been to one where it was a manmade beach with couches right by the river, it was so chill.  The other cool one I been to was one that supposedly float on top of the water, it was cool.  Berlin taught me one thing; just be who you are because you only live once.  Nobody judged there, whether you were wearing your pants inside out, had pink and puffy hair, a guy with high heels, a hipster riding bike on the wrong side of the street, no body cared, nor should they care.  Life should be that way, no prejudice, no discrimination.  For the first time, I felt free.  Free from worries, free from having to care about what other people thought about me.  I am who I am and you either like it or you don't, and if you don't like who I am, I'm sorry but I'm not going to change for you because I love myself.  Berlin was amazing, it opened my mind up to a whole new level.  Judge less, focus on yourself more, life is better off that way.  Next stop, Amsterdam Netherlands.

Amsterdam Netherlands

I heard that Amsterdam was a cool place to be, so I decided to check it out, blindly.  I have to admit, Amsterdam was far from exciting for me.  The unpleasant experience I had there made me feel like it was the final exam for me, to test me on all that I've learned so far.  To help you guys to enjoy Amsterdam a little more than I did, do not make the same mistakes that I did.  Firstly, find yourself a hostel with raving reviews close to the center, ones with mixed reviews were not good enough.  The hostel I stayed at played a huge role in my bad experience with Amsterdam; unfriendly, unhelpful staff with an open, smoke as you desire policy made it very unpleasant.  The location was also quite far from the centre, about 40 minutes walk.  Secondly, if you are to go out at night, do not bring anything and if you do, protect it with your life.  I had my point&shoot camera pick pocketed like a pro.  A slight bump and it was gone, along with my 64gb memory card filled with memories, all gone.  Good thing I had a backup in London so at least Africa photos were saved.

They took my camera and memory card, but they couldn't take away my experience.

It was a horrendous night going back to the hostel as well when the staff there were fighting with each other, and the cleaning staff threw away my towel.  I didn't sleep until 2:00am that night.  However, I didn't let myself dwell into it for too long, because after all I came too far out to get to where I was.  Nothing else mattered because I was still healthy and alive, sure the stolen camera sucked, but when I realized how much I've grown, I was proud of myself and to me, that's the most important part.  So that pretty much sums up my experience in Amsterdam, hopefully the next time I go back, things would be different.

Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon Portugal was the next destination, if you ever have the opportunity to go, make sure you stay at a hostel called Home Hostel.  It is by far the cheapest but the most amazing hostel I have ever stayed at.  At this point I have stayed at many hostels and this hostel pushed the bar pass the ceiling.  What I like about Lisbon is the lifestyle there, super chilled people who knows how to enjoy life.  Lots of pastry shops and cafes, my favourite was Pastel de Nata.


Alfama, Se, Sintra were all places I've been to that are worth mentioning.  Lisbon is filled with lifestyle, not to mention one of the easiest subway system I have encountered in Europe.  Lisbon was clean, simple, easy going and is easily one of my favourite.

Barcelona Spain

Finally, Barcelona Spain.  I have to admit, I was pretty drained at that point in my trip, having been to so many places and experienced so many different cultures.  I didn't realize how artsy Barcelona was; for all I knew Barcelona was about soccer or foot ball as they call it there.  It was such an artistic place it opened my eyes!  However, like I said I was pretty exhausted both physically and financially, so I really didn't do much in Barcelona; I didn't pay to get into any museums and only went to the free ones like Park Guell, but it was still amazing.  Awesome food (squid ink paella was my favourite), amazing architectures with a beautiful beach, I couldn't ask for a better place to wrap up my European tour.  It is finally time to say good bye to Europe, for now.

You can probably feel my exhaustion even to have just read and followed me through this journey so far.  It is a lot to take in, but keep reading a little bit further, you're almost there.

Chapter 4, coming back home. (Montreal Canada, Toronto Canada, Seattle Washington, Vancouver Canada)

I've heard of culture shock, but a reverse culture shock was a first for me.  Coming back to Canada, being able to turn on 3G on my phone for the first time in 3 months was unreal.  We take many things for granted, having been away without many of the luxuries we have here makes me appreciate them even more.  Tap water, free to use washrooms everywhere, having data everywhere I went, I am officially back to civilization!  I had booked my flights into Montreal instead of to Toronto because it was cheaper, and I thought I might as well do that and see more of Canada.

Montreal Quebec Canada

Montreal is quite big but overall a very nice city.  One of the first things I've done there was to have a poutine.  Sure it was good, but I recall the first thought I had was "this is so unhealthy!"; I was indeed, back to North America alright!  Another notable food that I  had was the famous Schwartz smoked meat sandwich.  Again, I didn't pay to go to any museums so I pretty much just walked around and went up to Mount Royal.  I was there for 3 days only and then took the bus to Toronto, a 6 hour bus ride.  It was a dreadfully long bus ride and I've finally realized how big Canada really is.  Toronto is where I grew up in Canada and I haven't been back since I moved to Calgary.  It was nice to see some familiar faces and places that I used to go; my elementary school, my junior high school, my first home in Canada, and most exciting of them all, Wonderland.  The first ride we went on was the Leviathan

Toronto Ontario Canada

, apparently the biggest ride there.  To be honest I was still half asleep up until the point I got off the ride, it was an interesting experience!  Next stop, Seattle Washington.  Out of all the cities I've been to in North America, I would have to say so far Seattle was my favourite.  It is so laid back and beautiful in its own rights.  Within 30 minutes drive you have a waterfall and the beautiful nature, and the city centre is filled with life and is surrounded by the water.

Seattle Washington

The malls were also very chill, with a good mix of indoor shopping and outdoor shops which were not situated in front of a street.  The entire vibe I got from Seattle was just amazing, definitely a place where I can see myself living in.  Finally, Vancouver British Columbia.  I have to say, this time around two things shocked me.  The biggest shock was the culture, the asian culture!  So far my entire trip had very limited exposure to asians where I had to speak Chinese or have Chinese food.  Vancouver was indeed "HongCouver" as they call it.  It almost felt like English was a second language here!  The shock wasn't as bad for the many previous times I've been here, this time it hit me.  The other shock was that I actually didn't find Vancouver as interesting as the last few times I've been here!  I guess it has a lot to do with the fact that I've been here too many times, I've seen most of Vancouver as a tourist.  And with that, I've spent all my savings on this amazing trip.  I have no more, it's time to go home...

Chapter 5, the pursuit of Happiness.

I've been through so much in 2013, but I am truly grateful for everything that had happened; all the happy and unhappy memories, all the amazing people I met from all around the world, I wouldn't change a single thing.  Everything happens for a reason; had the 3 pillars of my life didn't all collapse at the same time, I probably wouldn't have went on such adventure.  I remember 2 years ago during my convocation, one of the guest speakers was urging us to quit our jobs and see what's out there.  At the time everyone including myself laughed at him as we didn't even have a job yet and he's encouraging us to quit already, if that wasn't crazy I don't know what is.  Today, I fully understand what he meant.  It is not about what kind of job we have or how much we get paid, it's about happiness and that life has so much to offer.  We can be the richest man in the world, but if we are not happy then would having all the money in the world matter? Although I can't say that I have found happiness or tell you what happiness is exactly, but I can surely tell you that happiness is not about the amount of material one has.  In fact, we don't need a lot to be happy.  Our society has brought us up to be materialistic, going after the latest gadgets, drive nice cars, own nice houses, or wear brand name clothes, but none of that really matters.  Sure, getting the latest iPad for example, can make you really happy, but would you look back in 20 years time and go "damn, I'm so glad I bought that iPad 20 years ago".  I didn't think so either.  Chances are if you are that type of person who is always seeking the latest and greatest, you would not look back at the iPad you got 20 years ago, you'd be eyeing on the latest iPad Whatever-It-Would-Be-Called-In-The-Future.  However, I for one, would never forget and will always look back proudly of my life changing experience; 38,870 kilometres in the air, 111 days away from home, 14 culturally different cities in 11 countries, spread across 3 major continents.  I can bombard this last chapter with all the inspirational quotes I've gotten from the amazing people I've met along the way, but I will let you go read it yourself in the photo album titled My Inspiration.  Instead I will give you my own two cents.  Life is short so stop wasting time doing whatever you are doing if you are unhappy.  If you feel like your life is not going anywhere, feeling dull, sad or depressed, then you are living life incorrectly.  It is a sign for you to break out of whatever routine you are doing, and change the way you are living life.  Quit trying to compete with the rich neighbour next door.  Quit trying to impress everyone around you because you can't.  Quit pretending like you are happy when you know you are not.  Focus on yourself and forget about what society thinks.  Is it really that scary to quit that dreadful and boring job?  Is it really that nerve wrecking to go to a foreign place by yourself?  Does the thought of having only $10 left in your bank account make you cringe?  Does thinking about all this stress you out?  I expect you at the very least raise your eye brows as the idea is considered crazy in our society.  You are only stressed because you feel like you HAVE to do something; you HAVE to have a job at all times, you HAVE to be comfortable, you HAVE to have money in your bank.  The fact is, you don't have to do any of that.  Nothing is ever black or white, you don't have to do anything in a specific way especially not what our society suggests we should.  Do what makes you happy.  At the end of the day, always ask yourself what's the worst that could happen?  Chances are, whatever you think will happen, divide that by a factor of 100.  Because at the end of the day, if you are still healthy and alive, everything else is just a bonus.  We often give ourselves too many excuses to be free, because we feel obligated to do something.  This in return causes stress and depression, but little did we know that our lives have been controlled by a seed planted in our heads while we were still young that "money is essential to life".  I broke free from that thought; money is not the goal of life, living is the goal of life.  If you are not happy you are not living.  There is no reason to be unhappy about life as life in itself is already a beautiful gift.  Life is short, don't wait for things to happen if you are not living life.  Today can be the day you make that change to your life, quit being depressed about the break up you had last week, quit being dull working in that 9-to-5 job locked in an office with no windows, whatever you are unhappy about, do something about it.  Setting yourself free is probably one of the greatest gifts you can ever give yourself.  And having been through so much this year allowed to me grow as a person.  I can tell you that for once in my life I respect myself and I love myself.  So that was my story and this is my pursuit of Happiness: You have the rest of your life to make money, but you only live it once to be happy.

I want to Thank every single one of you who played a part in my unforgettable experience; let it be a friend who offered me their shoulder to soak up all the tears, or a friend who helped me move, or the stranger who pointed me in the right direction when I was lost, or the new friendships I've made while travelling, or even the man who broke my heart.  Without each and everyone of you, my story would not have shaped up like this and surely, I would not have been the Xu I am today.  Thank You.

So, what's next?  Back to reality?  Is this the end?  Far from.  Life is what we make of it and reality is a matter of choice.  I chose to live an adventurous, exciting and colourful life; I have decided to move to Toronto to start the next chapter in my life.  Until my next big journey, farewell for now.

PS. I hope my story have inspired you, and I also hope that it can also inspire those around to start Living Life.



a burnt-out software engineer, trying to inspire more simple livers