Emily Brydon - What a Year Can Bring

Kyoto, Japan where Emily travelled with her mom, Rosemary. Living in China inspires introspection and challenges my preconceived ideas. This may be in part due to the extreme contradiction to what I know so well and grew up surrounded by. Also in part to the desire to absorb and embrace as much of the local culture possible – with limitations of course! I have also been focusing on the word opportunity lately. The opportunity to relocate my life to a new place, where I am stretched on a daily basis to grow and expand both personally and professionally is something I will be forever grateful for. I feel that the last year of my life has impacted and evolved me in ways I never thought possible. The year has flown by and not without the highest of highs and lowest of lows that a foreign culture experience promises to deliver on. This city has shown me the vulnerability of living beyond your comfort zone. It has also rewarded me for embracing and appreciating it. The ability to see Shanghai and China through my own eyes has been reassuring, thought provoking and challenge: it has given me hope in humanity. I realize that I haven’t blogged for some time. This is not due to lack of “good” material but more related to the fact that this “material” has actually just become a part of my life. There are still the curve balls, which cause me to laugh, cry or be confounded but they no longer shock me. My Pavarotti singing taxi driver gave me hope of European Opera influencing the high-pitched Chinese Opera, which I have a hard time of appreciating. The “localizing” goal is still in effect, although I draw the line at chicken feet and mystery meat. My adventures are not exclusive to China –the world is an amazing playground. Bangkok in July was a spontaneous and highly needed weekend away. I think that both the city and myself are still recovering. Brazil is as good as they say. My friends Thais and Nigel invited me to their beautiful wedding in Brazil at a place called Juquehy. The wedding was amazing – the bride and groom beautiful. The mechanical bull on the sand, a first and the cheese balls rocked my world. And yes, I caught a Brazilian wave, albeit a small one; more like a wake Work took me to the UK and Germany, although I did manage to catch-up with some friends and family, which is always good for the soul bank. The 9th annual EBYF Golf Tournament brought me back to Canada in September. Although my golf game was horrendous, it inspired me once again as to what life is really all about and the importance of giving back and creating hope. The Chinese mid Autumn Festival found me in Vietnam. The history of the country humbled me once again. A country ravaged by some of the most horrific violence this world has ever seen, is filled with friendly and happy people. The tunnels of Chi Chi confounded me, the destruction of majestic temples saddened me, and the resilience of the people inspired me. I split my time between Ho Chi Minh and Hoi An. As one of the tailor capitals in the world, I thought it appropriate to try this tailor thing out in Hoi An. A mildly successful event – partially due to some language barriers, the fact that they had to stand on stools to get my full measurements, and the resistant to use “so much” fabric when I requested a one piece jumpsuit. I also had my first experience with moped vs. bicycle serenading – me being on the cycle and my ambitious suitor on the moped; needless to say, it wasn’t love at first sight. Momma B braved a trip back to China. As aptly marked Thelma & Louise by a good friend, ensured a great adventure together. The water-cities of Tongli and Zhou Zhuang were adventure number one. Minus the fact that the buses decided on that particular Saturday not to run, the trip was a success. Despite walking at a perpetual stoop so as to prevent a minor concussion by the low hanging rafters, and the trivial detail that people in those towns don't speak English, I think we fared well. The highlight being, a group of deaf travellers coming up to us while we enjoyed a morning coffee and proceeding to each take a selfie with me – no fewer than 15 people. The iconic peace sign and an awkward smile will make a few photo albums this year. Ironically I wasn’t even standing: that may have caused bedlam. During the week I shipped my Mom off to Beijing for an adventure of her own. She survived to tell the tale and saw Beijing at its best as her visit coincided with the APEC conference. The relevance being that the government shut down all the surrounded factories and power stations to eliminate the dreaded smog– the time now famously dubbed APEC Blue. The final weekend of my Mom’s travels took us to Kyoto, Japan: A place of beauty, peace and tranquility. It’s a place that forces you to slow down and look around. It oozes history yet doesn’t over commercialize it. The food is yummy and the Sake delectable – although Asahi Dry on draft is a winner. The amount of care and politeness people exhibit threw me off after living in China, where customer service is a far- flung notion. To be surrounded by mountains, trees and beauty fills my soul with contentment, happiness and calmness. Another two months left before I leave the wonderful place of Shanghai. It is time for one last round of exploring. The concrete jungle in which I live has taught me to be even more appreciative of that which is outside. I hope you are all well and getting ready for the festive season to begin! It isn’t too late to come visit! Emily (Ai Mei Li)