I need my regular dose of big open spaces. I usually have easy access to it: when winter rolls around, there’s the ski terrain; when summer hits again, just grab a tent and pitch it in the big mountains. Having just returned from a trip to Southeast Asia, I have no complaints about not hitting up the slopes at all this season; but flipping through pictures, old and new, sure makes me crave that sense of openness yet again… especially those from the Burmese plains of ancient temples, and those from northern Norway.
Bagan Archaeological Zone, Myanmar (Spring 2014)
“Tropical!” isn’t that amongst the first words that pop into mind when thinking of the SEAsia region? And yet, my entire visit, there was not a single day of beach visit… Between mountains and beaches, I am definitely more of a mountain-girl. Secretly, I sometimes wish I were a beach-lover, since the paths that lead to the beach usually are much less exhausting than those that lead to the peak of a mountain; but then again, that might just be precisely where the thrill’s at, as I appreciate the taste of victory so much more when I had to work for it. Visiting the Bagan plains of ancient temples doesn’t exactly equate to climbing up Mt. Kinabalu, but our getting up at wee-hour before dawn and biking over to one of the biggest temples in the plains in crisp early-morning air, made this sunrise-watching journey also a memorable one. The land really was filled with thousand-year-old temples for as far as the eyes can see! We had actually seen the sunset the day before, but something about watching the space being brought into light was quite poetic — with the rising sun, countless shadows slowly revealed their beauties as ancient stupas, awakened to another day with the chirping birds flying over a land that, for now, still remains unspoiled. With the dirt roads dusty and stupas unprotected, I wondered how different a sunrise from a few hundred years ago would have looked; for a little while there, it felt as if we had dialled back in time.
Knivskjellodden, Norway (Summer 2013)
Before I travelled to the prairie provinces of Canada, I thought my Westcoast mountain views were nice big and open… And then I made that trek to the most northern point of continental Europe, Knivskjellodden, and watched the midnight sun grace the horizon and then rise again – I embraced a whole new definition of big, open, space. I remember sitting on the rocks looking into the pink sky at midnight, almost melting into the bluish grey ocean with a light layer of haze over it, and imagining looking beyond that and over the Arctic and reaching home – Canada. Sure there was the Nordakapp cliff only a few kilometres Southeast of where my friend and I were (and of course in the peripheral view, should I choose to include it), but with the waves from the Barents Sea hitting the rocks and the Northern wind blowing relentlessly, I was fixated in the direction of the true North. Maybe it was the multi-day trek, the serious lack of sleep, the never setting sun – which contributed to messing up the sleeping schedule, and/or the simple fact that I was then standing at only 71° N, I felt as if there wasn’t going to be enough space in my mind or heart to take in the expansiveness in my sight… It was sublime: not the Mary Shelly style of fearsome sublimity; but rather, the magnificent kind.