The Importance of Virtual Travel

Well hello there.

Another 6 months have rolled by since my last update.

I thought because I didn’t have anything current to say regarding travel, I’d go focus on other things elsewhere for a bit.

 

And then I realized that travel is still current even if I’m not GOING anywhere physically. It’s still in my stories, in my everyday thoughts, in my movements around the online world. The adventures I’ve experienced since 2014 were one after another like rapid-fire. I need to tell myself that may have been a fluke, and that future trips might come at a slower, but equally satisfying pace.

While I wait for the next chance to see new things and meet new people, I would say I’ve done pretty well for myself being a vicarious traveler. I’ve expanded my network in a huge way, meeting all sorts of other interesting nomads through the power of Instagram, mainly. So yes, I was more active over there in 2017 than I’d been on WordPress. BUT! I’m trying to reintegrate the ‘press since around Christmas time. I now have a sister blogsite called Japan: The Things I Ate and The Stuff I Missed. Please do go check that out. It is becoming the extension of bustrainboatwalk, only focusing on the foodie aspects of my time in Asia (and not only Japan).

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll have already read my posts here about Kamome no Tamago, and ice-cream. On Japan: TTIAATSIM, I’ve gone into much more detail about those, and more. I’ll also be blogging about cafe life, Japanese dishware, snacks, restaurants to check out –  really everything related to eating/drinking in (mostly) Japan.

Other than that, I’ve beefed up my Instagram, so go ahead, you know you wanna peep that too. LOTS of photos and anecdotes from my nomadic life that I never had a chance to feature on bustrainboatwalk.

 

And those are my social media updates. My real life updates? The first half of 2017 was amazing, and continues to dance in my head via cherished memories. But somewhere toward the end of my Asian jaunt, I encountered a few people that rained on my parade. Some teased that I must have a sugar mama/daddy hiding somewhere paying for my travel costs. Um. Way to insult me, thanks. I worked hard for these trips. I used earned salary from years of NOT taking vacations at work. I budgeted like a crazy person. I researched everything extensively, to make sure I wasn’t overpaying for stuff like accommodations or transport.

And I returned home. BROKE.

Not because I was frivolous or careless, but because I knew it ahead of time. For me it was worth to spend that money on these irreplaceable experiences than to let it sit collecting minimal interest in the bank. And to comprehend that yes, I’d come back to Canada with very little leeway in my ‘IRL’ budget. I was never “rich”. Not before, and not after my trips. I lived modestly while traveling. The obvious proof would be to look in my luggage to see that I was using and re-using clothing and supplies for 8 months, all fit into 2 backpacks and 2 totes. Only reason I lugged so much at all was because my excursion spanned several seasons, and I needed different types of clothing for different climates/weather.

People say that Japan is expensive. Sure, if you stay in 5-star hotels, and eat in 40$/plate eel specialty restaurants. I still have yet to understand why people would pay that much for a slab of teriyaki eel on rice, when I had delightful 5-10$ versions in ordinary restaurants. It’s all about how you use your money, and not how a whole country inflicts a charge on you like an obligation. I stayed in some AMAZING little inns, at the peak of comfort and luxury, and it didn’t cost me an arm and a leg.

So people, inform yourselves before saying that such-and-such country is pricey.

 

So, well. My return to reality was with very few remaining funds. Because I planned for it ahead of time, I was ready. The belt has been tight. Looking for jobs has been dead end after dead end. Grocery prices and ingredient availability have been horrible. Friends in foreign countries have joked that it sounds like I live in a Third World country. And there are days that I feel that I do. Considering Canada is supposed to be some land of the free and the plenty, with free healthcare, ‘modern’ services, et al., I ain’t impressed.

Canada will fail you at each opportunity. The metro won’t get you to your job interview on time even if you leave an hour early. That waiting list you’ve been on for two years to obtain low rent housing or mental health care? Normal that you “fell through the cracks” and are no longer on the fabled list. Don’t even expect that anything will be free when you need emergency medical attention or Cancer treatments. Yep that all comes out of our pockets, people. And on the spoonie life topic…

Glasses.

I wandered around Asia 2 years in a row with an inadequate prescription, and amazing, but – alas – cheaply made low vision sunglasses. I tried to get inexpensive glasses made at JINS or similar Japanese chains that offer incredibly low cost frames and prescriptions. Well, after an hour at Zoff, choosing a frame, having eye tests, etc., the technician bowed deeply and apologized over and over because she was unable to make my prescription. Apparently their machinery only reads up to a -10.25 prescription. That is already quite high, but since I’m low vision….that was not nearly strong enough. The old glasses on my face (which they offered to copy, but unfortunately, I wouldn’t be improving my eyesight with that option) were -11/-11.25. She couldn’t even tell me my current prescription because of the lack of readings from their available equipment. She put beer goggles on me and tried manually guessing with several additional lens examples, but no dice.

She said I’d need to get a prescription from an ophthalmologist, and then they could work from that. But uh, I had no doctors in Japan, and I was scheduled to leave in less than a month at that point in my trip, so would have not had time or resources to find someone who could examine me in a foreign country.

So, bye bye 80$ Zoffs in cute blue frames. Hello absurdly overpriced (and hideous) Michael Kors frames and prescription for nearly 900$ in stinkin’ CANADA, home of the free healthcare system that makes you pay for everything. Why Michael Kors? Because it’s IN, and the sales clerks push the most pricey frames on you, and I’d already naysayed the Dior frames. And when I have such crummy vision and they ask me to choose a frame, I can only see half my face as I squint into a mirror about 6cm away from my nose. Yes, that gives me a very clear idea of how things will look in reality. Smh.

And they couldn’t even get the prescription right. I’m used to that, since my eyesight is complicated to test, but when the staff acts haughty like they know better than the owner of the silly eyeballs, again, I’m not amused.

They insisted I go home and wear this pair for 4 days because they were convinced I was seeing blurry because the prescription was higher than I’m accustomed to. “You just need to get used to it”, and “It’s because you’ve never had HD lenses before”. Yes, right, sure, okay.

Because you KNOW everything about MY eyes.

I wore those terrible lenses for a whole week just to make my point. Brought them back and said NOW, listen to me when I say these are TOO WEAK. Everything is blurry, do you not understand that? The clerk then whined that it wasn’t his fault, that he entered the info correctly, and it must be the lab who screwed up. Me: I never blamed YOU. But someone here didn’t do their job well, and I would guess that’s the optometrist.

Guess who was right?

Me, of course. The optometrist was apparently a temp from another clinic, replacing one of the ACTUAL doctors on staff. Nobody seemed to know her when I mentioned her name. That sounds safe. How do we even know she is a trained professional in that case? Who hired her when nobody has heard of her?

I had another optometrist do the readings, and the clinic had the gall to say “We won’t charge you for the second exam. Because normally we do, but….we’ll give you a break.” Give me a break?

Exactly.

Give me a break.

As if the wrong readings were MY fault. Yo, be professional. If none of you got a degree in optometry, I may as well start my own practice and offer people the same sub-par service.

 

And so, the new technician explained that the problem was in my astigmatism measurements. They made them too high, to apparently compensate for making the prescription itself lower. He said that this was in fact a plausible thing to do on some prescriptions. But he agreed that mine should probably never be tampered with because it’s already so tricky. I mean really…can’t you just give me the prescription SUITED to my eyes? Without cutting corners for reasons unknown? So in the end of this stupidity, I walked away with -13/-13.25 and amusingly, lower astigmatism than I used to have.

And if anyone dares tell me I’m using a sugar mama/daddy to pay for my pricey glasses, come at me. I dare you to BE my sugar mom/dad, okay, I could use some financial support 😉

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