New passport

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After I quit my job 20 months ago, one of the first things I did was apply for a new passport in preparation and anticipation for all the travelling I’d be doing.

Well, that “new” passport has been used and abused, stickered and stamped on more times than I can count. It’s been my most frequent travel companion. And all the pages are full. In a way, it was a sign for me to come home.

Flipping through the pages is like reliving my journeys or reading my biography. Every visa is the beginning of countless stories, every exit stamp the end of a chapter.

Last month, the German immigration officer at Tegel Airport in Berlin was struggling to find a place for my exit stamp and told me, “You need a new passport.” I applied for a new one today and can only hope to have a fraction of the experiences and adventures with my next passport.

The only downside – I can’t spontaneously leave the country until I get the new passport within a couple weeks!

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Sticker shock

I’ve been back home in Canada for just over a month now, and I still get astounded at how expensive things are here compared to many places I’ve been the past year and a half. I can’t help thinking that the value proposition for staying here all year round quickly decreases when you realize how fast your money goes out of your pocket here and just how far your money goes elsewhere. A few examples from a day out last week:

GO Train from Ajax (suburb of Toronto) to Union Station (downtown Toronto) – $8.10 CAD
Train in Thailand from Bangkok to Ayutthaya (~83 km) – 20 THB, or ~$0.67 CAD

TTC (Toronto public transport system – subway/buses/streetcars) – $3 CAD
Microbus in Nepal from Kathmandu to Boudha (~7 km) – 30 NPR, or ~$0.34 CAD

Chicken shawarma in downtown Toronto – $6.54 CAD
Chicken kebab in Sofia, Bulgaria – 2.70 BGN, or ~$1.96 CAD

Medium coffee at Tim Horton’s – $1.65 CAD
Espresso in Berat, Albania – 50 ALL, or ~$0.51 CAD

Haircut (including tax and tip) – $20 CAD
Haircut in Kalaw, Myanmar – 1000 MMK, or ~$1.11 CAD

These numbers make the thought of travelling again all the more appealing! …