Back to the drawing board

Sometimes when people ask me how I’m doing in the “life” department, I don’t really know how to respond. I’m at the age where my friends are out there getting engaged/married/having children.

Me? I’m kind of living my best life in a very different way.

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But this is about how I am slowly learning to become more comfortable with the person who I have to live with for the rest of my life: myself.

I was in a little bit of a funk for a while. I used to draw way more when I was a student but since the full time job, a lot of my daily brain juice is used for that.

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I was thinking a lot about my current life state while I watched the world speed past me over the past few months.

Watching people post about their lives on social media got me mildly annoyed about putting up this facade about how “awesome” our lives are. I knew it wasn’t true, but it seemed like a lot of people seemed to have their lives more or less together.
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And then, last week when I was visiting my parents over the weekend, my mother volunteered me to draw a couple of murals for this hiking trail in my hometown.

I thought it would be a good way to force myself to get back into drawing.

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For the first time in a while, I found myself not disliking my drawings.

They were very well received and it made me feel good. I was on a little bit of a hiatus for a while, but maybe that’s what I needed to get back.

I’m slowly learning to be more confident in my own abilities. To stop thinking about what people who I don’t actually like that much think about me and care more about the people who actually matter.

But mostly, to learn to love myself.
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oh my god its 2019

At this rate, updating this blog is going to turn into a yearly event. In 2018 I thought to myself: is the reason why I didn’t update as much in 2017 because I gave myself too much pressure to put stuff out there? I’m going to not put ANY pressure on myself.
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I mean, who is counting anyway hahahahahahaha.

Honestly, what even happened this year. A good part of 2018 was basically me doing this:

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So I will fill you in on some of the more interesting happenings of N’s 2018.

Apparently last year’s introduction to this BTS business didn’t wear off after 3-4 months like it usually does for me, and I am going to see them in 2019…. two times.

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Anyway, this year I went to Korea for a vacation with my parents. Will I ever blog about going to Korea? Who knows, in 2017 I went to Montreal and I still haven’t written anything regarding that haha.

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Some people asked me if I went celebrity hunting in Korea. Uhm… to be quite honest, I don’t follow the Korean entertainment scene that closely, and if I ever did see any Korean celebrity that I recognized on the street it would be something like:

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THIS DID NOT HAPPEN BY THE WAY. THIS IS A PURELY HYPOTHETICAL SITUATION.

The older you get the more you realize that everyone is kind of just making things up as they go along, and no one really knows what they are doing… we are all just going with the flow.

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Happy New Year everyone! I promise nothing art related this year. Those things are for people who don’t have full time jobs and have a lot of time to stream Kpop videos and if you are one of them maybe you should GO STUDY, YOU CHILD.

2017 in Review

Ah yes, 2017 coming to a close.

My departure from cyber space was the result of a very intense year. To be honest, it was very hard to be motivated to doodle with a lot on my plate, which is ironic because I doodle to de-stress. Life sometimes deals you curve balls.

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But 2017 wasn’t all confusion and memes.

I said goodbye to academia (for now).

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MY JOURNEY TOWARDS SELF SUFFICIENCY BEGAN.

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I travelled to Los Angeles, Lake Tahoe, Montreal and Cleveland…and Niagara Falls. Twice. Li Yun has been bugging me to draw our Montreal trip. Patience, young grasshopper.

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I was curious about this Korean band that kept turning up on all my feeds.

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Among other things.

Anyway, thank all of you for your patience!!! I hope 2018 will be better for all of us. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

I have been alive on Instagram though, did you know I have a life there (kind of)

Nova Scotia

How long has it been since I was last here… babies conceived during the last time I updated have already been born.

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The past year has been a whirlwind of mostly me, well…

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You get the picture.

Anyway, this summer I went to visit a place that was next to ocean, lots of seafood and rain.
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Nova Scotia!!!

I’ve been hearing many good things about the Maritimes and Atlantic Canada. Most of my friends have not been there, so I went with my grad school friends, Kelly and Xinyu. I really enjoyed it, next time I might go all out Anne of Green Gables and visit P.E.I.?

Our first stop was Mahone Bay which was close to Lunenberg. We stayed at the Kip and Kaboodle Backpacker’s Hostel for one night.

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The owner Greg was a very kind man, originally from New Zealand.

The first day we spend walking around Mahone Bay, which literally had just one of everything. (Except for restaurants, there were maybe three or four of them)

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The people in this town were super nice! This small town of… 900 people. We were obviously tourists being the only Asian people in town… and carrying a selfie stick with us.

The next day we went to Lunenberg.

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Lunenberg! Managed to catch a glimpse of the Bluenose, which in case you didn’t know is that boat on the Canadian dime. How’s that for important boats.

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After our day trip to Lunenberg, we went over to Halifax, where we stayed at St Mary’s University. It was quite affordable and close enough to the city that we could walk there.

When we were in Halifax, we did this tour of the downtown area on this unusual amphibious vehicle that goes on both land and water.
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They say if you walk down Spring Garden Road, you will bump into someone you know. Well, we don’t know anyone in this town, but we saw this lady the first time in the McDonald’s washroom and the second time outside the Central Library. We also saw a Japanese couple twice as well as this kid we originally saw at the Seaport Farmer’s Market. No joke.

We spent 2 days in Halifax and on our final day, we managed to book a tour to Peggy’s Cove on our last day.

Asked this lady to take a photo of us with the iconic Peggy’s Cove lighthouse.
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I mean, when you visit a fancy lighthouse and ask for a photo, I think it’s safe to say you want the fancy lighthouse in it.

We were better off with our selfie stick.

Anyway before we left, my friend Kelly picked up 3 lobsters at the airport because did you
know you can buy live lobsters at the airport.

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That is a wrap for my trip around Nova Scotia! Honestly, it was quite different from the usual vacations I take. I can no longer look at lobsters without thinking about how weird they look.

Like my Facebook for more updates and short comic things? 🙂

 

Ning goes to Bangkok

Bangkok! South East Asia’s City of Angels.

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I love Bangkok, I’ve been here a few times. The food is great, the people are friendly, and the shopping is pretty awesome.

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I noticed that Thai school kids are always looking at their smartphones… and many of them have braces.

First thing you notice when you land in Thailand is the roaring tourist trade.

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This was especially true when I visited the Grand Palace. Floods of tourists everywhere.

English is not widely spoken here, but they smile a lot.

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The hotel I stayed at had no wifi in the room, so I had to run down to the lobby every time I wanted to go online.

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Many of the guests were sitting on the lobby sofas checking their facebook or whatever.

This was quite inconvenient for us 21st century folk. Everyone is always glued to their screens nowadays. How can I be disconnected from the rest of the world???

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When I was in the elevator, my ambiguous nationality piqued one little Chinese girl’s interest.

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It’s always interesting to visit Chatuchak weekend market which sells all sorts of things from clothes to pets.

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The Betta fish are as low as 20 baht (CAD 0.60)??? I don’t know how much they are in Canada but they are definitely not 60 cents.

I love Thai food, it’s one of my favourite cuisines. I visited this place called Thipsamai for pad thai.

To be honest, the pad thai was average and cost 90 baht while the orange juice was a whopping 160 baht. The pad thai at Khao San Road was better, and I mean Khao San Road restaurant in Toronto, not the actual road in Bangkok.

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However they are raking money like nobody’s business, so they must be doing something right.

I also got to have my favourite Bangkok biscuit in Chinatown. The biscuit guy is obviously very well protected with his many amulets.

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A great deal of my time was spent in various malls because when it’s 35°C out there you really don’t want to be anywhere without air conditioning.

I really like Tokyu department store at Mah Boon Khrong partially because they carry these amazing T-shirts by Grafika and they are literally the BEST.

I have T-shirts from here that I have been wearing for umpteen years and the quality is SUPERB. The prints are still in-tact, no cracks, NOTHING and keep in mind I wear these everyday*. The colour doesn’t run. It doesn’t shrink or warp in the washer and dryer either.

20/10 would recommend. In fact, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. A+++++.

*People may question my fashion sense. I wear these at home when I want to be comfortable lah… obviously not when I am presenting my project during final reviews.

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Just kidding, I don’t actually dress like the last one and I don’t have a Pomeranian.

I’m always amused to hear of Malaysian dignitaries with exquisite taste who like to carry luxury designer bags which everybody has difficulty pronouncing (like -ahem- the Hermès Birkin Bag) and then I went ahead and bought myself a backpack and landed myself with the same issue of being unable to pronounce the brand.

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Oops.

Swedish or any Scandinavian friends, care to help me out? Thule… Too-lay… Too-lee….?

Basically Bangkok is amazing. I most definitely will be back.

If you like this post on Bangkok you may want to check out my post on New York. Or my Facebook. Do both, actually. Also comment, because I read all of your comments. 😀

Edit(12 Aug 2015): One of my readers sent me some information and a recipe for pad thai. Check it out if you like.

Durian

IT’S DURIAN SEASON.

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I’m sure most of you have at least heard of this legendary fruit. Durian is a big deal where I am from. Some of the best durians are reputed to come from Penang island.

There are actually many cultivars of durian, and they all have really funky sounding names worthy of small time thugs.

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It is impossible to properly describe the odour and flavour of a durian without actually encountering one in the flesh. I have heard many descriptions ranging from mango and papaya to rotten onions soaked in turpentine. Very colourful, but not very useful.

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I went to the market this morning with my aunts to pick some durian. It was super fascinating to watch the sellers pick and cut durian.

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Sometimes a durian borer appears in the durian, which is quickly fed to the seller’s prize-winning Arowana as durian borer sashimi.

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My relationship with durian is complicated. I think I used to kind of like it as a kid, and then while on vacation in Pangkor Island I got food poisoning from durian ice cream.

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No durian for the next two-thirds of my life.

I then became the designated bee swatter at every subsequent durian party.

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My reintroduction to durian happened 3 years ago at someone’s durian party.

 

It didn’t taste bad. The texture was like… if ice cream grew on trees… it tasted sweet, and I kind of liked it a little bit.offer

 

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What do you guys know about durian? Share your thoughts in the comments! Check out a recent painting that I made of durian on my facebook page!

First Summer Adventure

A while back I blogged about my amazing experience flying and getting bumped up to business class.

Recently, I *may* have made fun of a completely insane flight schedule here while I was looking for flight tickets, which I did not take up.

This time flying from Toronto to Penang , I decided to fly with China Airlines because of the short layover and direct flight.

The day started off normally. I had to lug a couple of massive suitcases over to the airport, which wasn’t so bad because my friend helped me.

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My flight wasn’t till 10pm but I got the airport at 4pm because I was a super keener. So I listened to a few podcasts before being able to check in.

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The flight was about 4.5 hours to Vancouver. By the time I got to Vancouver I was so tired from all the packing and moving that I was looking forward to sleeping on the plane for the next 13 hours.

I decided to change into something more comfortable for the 13 hour flight.

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While I was waiting at the gate, I heard the ground staff call my name. They mentioned that WestJet allowed for 10kg in your carry-on while China Airlines only allowed for 7kg. Since my carry-on was over that limit, they had to check it in.

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I was so out of it I said “yeah, sure whatever” because I thought that I would only be away from my carry-on for a little while and I would rough it out. Technically they shouldn’t have taken my carry-on, you are allowed one personal item (in this case my backpack) and one carry-on.

So we got on the plane and I was seated next to this mega wizened lady. I fell asleep in my seat before we even took off…

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I woke up 2 hours later to find out that we were still on the ground.

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The plane engine was busted and they had to ship parts… from Taipei. So our flight was delayed for almost 24 hours.

We were told that due to limited airport hotel rooms available, those from Vancouver had to be sent home by cab to await the rescheduled departure time.

They put me in this room that was usually reserved for those with special needs. I had a king sized bed and massive everything. Showers, bathroom… everything was about three times the usual size.

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Keep in mind that they had taken my carry-on with all my clothes and toiletries so I had no change of clothes.

I had a meal voucher at the hotel restaurant but everything there was so expensive. I mean who pays $18 for 3 pancakes and $8 for juice? Apparently me.

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Since I had a whole day in Vancouver to do whatever I wanted, I decided to look for Japadogs.

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I also spent my day sitting at the beautiful waterfront eating Japadogs and staring at boats.

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When I got back to the airport I lined up for my new boarding pass and was given a coupon for inflight purchases and another meal voucher.

I was so tired from this ridiculous delay that I think I slept for about 8 of the 13 hours.

When we landed in Taipei they gave us chocolate to apologize for the delay. Those with connecting flights were ushered off into the business class lounge to rest.

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Since I obviously missed my connecting flight to Penang, they put me on a flight to Kuala Lumpur and then on MAS to Penang.

Now the entire point of my flying with China Airlines was because I wanted to avoid having to go to Kuala Lumpur… but nope, the stars determined that I had to fly to KL.

So I spent the next few hours at the China Airlines lounge in Taipei eating dumplings trying to sleep without actually falling asleep.

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My flight to Kuala Lumpur was pleasant. I actually watched a couple of Chinese movies, but by the time I got to KLIA I was pretty much busted. I rolled past immigration with my ninja turtle backpack over to the gate, only to find out that they had switched the gate.

I managed to catch a ride on one of those airport buggy things to the second gate.

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Only to find out that they changed the gate AGAIN.

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Needless to say that when I got to Penang my internal battery was so drained I was ready to pass out.

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China Airlines, providing me with the first adventure of summer.
Please check out my Facebook for more drawings of things! Whether you like this page or don’t, you should hit the “Like” button and comment! I look forward to it.

The Great Canadian Outdoors

Everyone in our program has to go through two field courses where we go out into the wilderness and do outdoor things.

The first field course was held during late summer and was incredibly overwhelming.

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The second field course was held during early spring. This time I understood what we were doing, I just didn’t know why we were doing it.

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This year, the course was held during the coldest week in April. The week before and after, it was nice and sunny and the weather was amazing, and then suddenly BOOM. Below freezing temperatures. Rain. Maybe a MINI TORNADO.

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The week after the field course it was back to sunshine, rainbows and happiness.The weather knows. It knows when we are outdoors.

Almost every day of the field course, we were outdoors measuring, recording and sketching things.Our trip started off on a very windy and rainy Monday at Ashbridges Bay and Leslie Street Spit where we collected data and made transects.

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Next day, we visited St Williams Nursery where they specialize in growing and selling native plants.

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After that, we headed over to Backus Woods, one of the best remaining examples of a Carolinian forest. We met this super tree enthusiast named Mary who knew everything.

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There was an overnight camping trip near Long Point, which was actually a lot of fun. We roasted marshmallows, had a barbeque and played games.

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Next day we got to see how birds were tagged so that we can observe changes in their migratory path.

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Birds are cute. I like birds.

We visited the beach on Long Point Provincial Park near Lake Erie. It was 50km/h winds and a little bit of snow. So you know, not the best beach weather.

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Nothing like a little snow on the beach to say welcome to Canada!

After our totally insane outdoors trip we had a planting excursion where we planted some river willow.

 

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We dug out trees, wrapped some trees in burlap, and planted a bunch of dogwood. All when the temperature was -2 Celcius.

 

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All in all, the weather was not the greatest but I think the trip was pretty fun.I think the trip was quite eye opening… actually I think the weather added to how interesting it was.

If you like this you should like my Facebook page and follow me Instagram to see photos I took during the field course! 🙂

Maple Syrup Harvest

Yoooooo! I’m finally back after a bit of inactivity. An intense schedule would drive anyone into workaholic mode. Past few months have been busy but rewarding? Lots of really interesting stuff happened.

I did yoga for the first time, wearing all the wrong clothes because of my last minute decision to just pop in.

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A lot of rendering  and playing Love Live! SIF while waiting for things to render.

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And Chinese New Year!

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But the important thing is that I am here I am doodling again.

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A couple weeks ago I attended a maple syrup harvest organized by my school. It sounded like a unique experience and it was held at Hart House Farm in Caledon so I said… why not.

While we were on the bus, there was some girl next to us who was doing some school work. And here, Julie and I were trying to not think about school work.

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We got to Caledon at about 11am and were greeted with a pretty amazing pancake brunch.

Julie and I had 2 helpings because… the food was really good.

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After brunch we went to visit the sugar bush where all the maple trees were.

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The maple sap is carried away from the trees in this web of tubes all the way to the sugar shack where it is boiled down to syrup.

We got to sample some of the maple syrup produced right on the farm.Apparently it takes approximately 40 gallons of sap to get 1 gallon of syrup which explains why it’s so expensive.

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The farm was really spectacular! Julie and I had been there before for our field course back in September. This time we walked about in the open fields in late winter, got our shoes muddy…  and sliced open a some insect infested goldenrod bulb to expose the fly larvae within.

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It felt really good to be out of the city for a while. Even though half the time while we were at the farm we were thinking about school work.

But we got to decorate sugar cookies!

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Overall I would say it was a really fun and educational short trip. I had a good time and I would definitely try to go again and again.

If you like what you see here please check out my facebook and give me a thumbs up! Also my twitter for funsies. I try to update there most of the time…. when I’m not swimming in an ocean of work that is.

Do you guys have Instagram? Maybe follow me on Instagram as well?

Weather

Weather is a pretty universal subject matter to talk about. In Malaysia, the conversation usually goes something like this:

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And this year the floods are pretty devastating.

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I lived for a while in Edmonton. Things can get pretty crazy in Alberta.

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But probably not as crazy as Yellowknife.
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It once SNOWED in August in Edmonton.  While we were having a barbeque, it was madness.

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So far, Toronto weather had been quite mild compared to Edmonton and yet every other person seems to own much thicker jackets. Like Canada Goose or Moose Knuckles. My standard Columbia jacket does pretty well here.

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It’s a bit strange because there is literally no snow on the ground at this time of the year. Where is the Canadian experience, I ask you.

Right now people are probably up to their shoulders in snow in Alberta. I kind of miss it in a weird way.

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What is the weather like where you live? I would love to hear about it! I have super cool viewers from Bangladesh, Denmark, Turkey, Netherlands, Greece, Congo, Panama, Argentina, Qatar etc. I’ve never been to any of these places and I’m interested to visit them one day when I have the chance. Share your thoughts! And like my facebook page too, please and thanks!