(late) Friday Five: What Would You Do With Two Months Paid Vacation?
Where Gord Gets To Feel Suddenly Blessed

Craig produced this week’s Friday Five topic:

The biggest advantage to being a teacher is the time off in the summer. Yeah, the annual salary isn’t the best, but I get two friggin’ months off a year! Not to mention two weeks for Christmas, a week for Thanksgiving, Spring Break, and other assorted days off.

If you were paid for two months of not going to work, what are five things you would do with your time off?

This is the time when I say with a big grin, that this will happen to me every four months in my job. That’s right, in my contract I am 4 months on, 2 months off, all paid. Now, there is a duty to work a camp once a year (or more if I want, as the pay is over and above my base pay) but even then I can usually work out something like 5 or more weeks free.

So my points have the very sweet flavour of being nebulous plans playing in the back of my mind. Only the first plan is solid, of course: I actually will be going to go live in Dharamsala this winter holiday, from January to February. The rest depends on finances, but I’m considering all of these possibilities.

  1. I’m going to go live in a town called Dharamsala in northern India. There’s an old Raj house there that I’m renting from the regular tenant, who apparently rents from the sister of the Dalai Lama. Have I mentioned that Dharamsala is the home of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile? No, I don’t have a Richard Gere-esque interest in Tibet as the New Great Victims of the world, but I am interested in seeing how the Tibetan diaspora functions in Dharamsala. I am also very happy to say that there’ll be a woman coming to cook and clean for me, which means I’ll be free to write a lot. I plan on finishing my current novel while I am living in that house. I also will bring along my soprano sax and practice, maybe write some songs. And if I can visit my onetime netfriend Ritu Ko near Delhi, I’d be quite happy. There may also be time put in on a beach somewhere if I fly back via somewhere like Thailand.
  2. Visiting my family. I think I will do this in winter 2004. It’s anm idea of mine to save up some money, spend maybe a month with my family, and then spend maybe a month traveling North America. I don’t know how, maybe by bus or something. I would like to make it to Texas, and to California, to visit various friends from an old mailing list and so on, whom I’ve never met before. Maybe even a jaunt to Montreal and Toronto. But it’s a long trek.
  3. I’d love to bumble about Europe, and take some time to visit my friend Charlie, in Cyprus. We’ve been extremely close friends, I’d say best friends, for several years now but never even had the chance to share a beer. While I am interested in Cyprus and of course the “must-see” countries of Western Europe, I have to admit it’s Eastern Europe that makes me curious… that mixture of West and East, the beauty of Prague, the oldness of Romania, the ghosts of the old bloc in Ukraine.
  4. I’d love to wander around China. I want to see Xinjiang and I’d definitely spend time in Suzhou and Nanjing, researching the Taiping Rebellion which happened there in the mid-1800s, and which I am writing poems about, very very slowly. Some of the original Taiping buildings are still standing. I suppose I’d also want to see Shanghai and Canton, but… most important to me would be Nanjing, Beijing, Suzhou, and Xinjiang, in that order.
  5. I’d love to spend a couple of months wandering around Korea with an interesting partner, interviewing all kinds of average Korean people—truck drivers, farmers, small restaurant owners, bus and taxi drivers, schoolteachers, businessmen, housewives, artists, students, homeless bums, and the old people one finds everywhere—about a massive range of topics. I would also like to interview the “invisible” foreigners, such as people from other East Asian countries, the Pakistanis and Nepalis, and the Russians who apparently make up a surprising percentage of the population working in the sweatshop and sex trades in Korea. I’d take reams of digital pictures, and my partner and I could publish a bilingual book in Korean and English, with the contents of the most interesting interviews accompanied by pictures.

I will give an honorable mention to the possibility that our band will tour next summer, possibly in Australia. That’d be cool, especially if I could get some fishing in like Myoung is always talking about. And it looks like I will have a friend in Sydney to come to our concert, so that’d be nice. Another possibility for sometime would be spending time up in Seoul, studying the Korean language for serious, which is something I’ll do if I get the inkling I’ll be staying here a long long time. For now, though, studying from my book will suffice.

Speaking of which, I should go read a little before bed. It’s actually my bedtime. Damn!

Before I forget: other F5 participants are: Melissa, Adam, Merideth, Will, Chris, Gina, Dave, Craig, Gord, Adrienne, Nanette, Marvin, Rob, Laura and Jon.

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