The first poem I read in the tenth grade textbook

Road Between Saskatoon and Edmonton

Yes - there are hills on the prairie,
trees, even; the roads sometimes winds.
It is not
home on the range
with perpetually sunny skies,
for up there in that sky
wider and higher than the one I grew up with
clouds shift and reshift,
drop sudden showers,
vanish again in sunlight.

I name over the foreign words and objects:
those almost lakes are sloughs;
that is a windbreak of poplars,
geometrically planted before the square farmhouse.
The chief difference in the land
is that there is more of it.

The little towns are prairie cliches,
each with its grain elevator
onion-domed church
and Chinese restaurant.

But there are hints of Celtic landscape
near Kitscoty and Innisfree
lake water set in valleys
Irish and wet,
with new green grass,
and I can even imagine
the nine bean-rows
and a homesick immigrant
almost finding himself at home.

Will I ever be at home in this country?
Will I ever be at home again away from it?

- Elizabeth Brewster


The North American Tour of 2011

This one goes out to the numerous people who have told me they're getting very tired of seeing me sleeping on that rat-infested train. Hopefully, the wildlife of my homeland is a nice change.


And the winner is...

After logging what felt like countless hours using China's public transport, I can report that sleeper trains are superior to sleeper buses. The buses smell bad. I think I alluded to a truly terrifying rat incident on a train a few posts back. Well, it happened and I'm still haunted by it, but our ever-chivalrous Lee stayed awake all night making sure no rodents had the opportunity to get back in my bunk. In trying to decide the victor of the public transport race, I've decided to repress the rat memory and replace it with a gentle husband one, making trains the winner by a caboose.


Return to Kathmandu

We're back in Kathmandu, after an amazing trek, a few relaxing days in Pokhara (hair conditioner! real coffee! nearly-hot showers!), and a long bus ride back to the city. Of course, we have many pictures of the Annapurna Circuit and can't wait to tell you all about it, but I feel an obligation to go back in time and get caught up on the post-Kashgar, pre-Nepal experiences. We wouldn't want to deprive our fans - all ten of you - of stories of ancient caves, panda bears, and unscrupulous Uighur taxi-drivers. Patience, loyal readers, patience...all will be revealed in time.

For now, though, I thought you might enjoy a few of the things that occur on a normal morning in Kathmandu. I'd like to call this "Things that would never happen in Canada."

1. I woke and had yet another cold shower in yet another hotel that guarantees hot water.
2. When I left the hotel, a middle-aged Nepalese man asked if we wanted to buy some smoke. "Marijuana? Hashish?"
3. I nearly got run over by a rickshaw because I looked the wrong way. I need near-constant reminders to myself: they drive on the left, they drive on the left. It is Nepal. Maybe this should be my mantra.
4. At the Indian embassy, I had to complete my application by supplying the name of my father or husband. As you can imagine, Lee did not have to fulfill this requirement.
5. Also at the embassy, I saw four 20-something American boys dressed like Hare Krishna.
6. For breakfast, I had two cappuccinos, a lemon pancake, and a mango lassi. Total cost: $5


Where to eat in Kashgar

It's the most popular place in town, the food is delicious, and we'd highly recommend eating there, if only we could remember its name.

Where to stay in Kashgar

The middle of winter is the lowest of the low seasons in Xinjiang province. We hear that the city is full of tourists in the summer, but we didn't see any in February. Many of the hotels and tourist offices were closed when we arrived, but the Seman Hotel, in all its resplendent glory, was open. The decor is fitting of this former Russian consulate. We felt like Anna and Vronsky, only without all the death and tragedy.

The etiquette of travel

In case anyone forgets to bring their manners with them to China, the municipal government has decided to remind everybody.