It’s been nearly two weeks since our time in Thailand ended. We parted ways in two groups in Hong Kong, and slowly lost each other on connecting flights along the way home. Instead of going straight home after Asia, I opted to first stay for a couple weeks in British Columbia, as i’ve never been before.
One of my first experiences in Vancouver was figuring out the transit system with Nygel. It is quite similar to Kuala Lumpur’s, except that it costs nearly 14 x the price. We payed $7.50 each to take the skytrain into Vancouver city from the airport. In our Thai pants and t-shirts, transfered from train to train to bus, and walked in the 5ºC weather another few blocks to Sam and Megan Wollenberg’s. I crossed a high-traffic road, dodging around cars, completely forgetting how things work in Canada. I am so accustomed to darting across traffic that i didn’t even give it a second thought.
One of the most immediate differences here in Kelowna is the difference in poverty. Though there are homeless people living here, they are living in different conditions. There are food and sleeping shelters, along with street churches geared toward the homeless. Though not all of the needs of the homeless can really be met, this system is much more helpful and considerate than anything i ever witnessed in Asia. It also pains me deep in my conscience to see teenagers spending $15 to go to a bar show, and choosing Starbucks over the rampant cheaper local and fair trade shops.
The open nature of the Thai (and Lanna) people, combined with their desire to share their culture with us, were drawing features to cause someone like me to want to spend an extended amount of time there. Think about it: If you asked a SEAsian immigrant living in North America why they moved here, would they have the same impression of North American people?
Southeast Asian people have something real good going on. Watching their interactions amongst their families, and how close they hold each other to their heart (and very being), has really made me miss my family. I can’t wait to fly home to my family tomorrow.