I miss Tigger. He was my best friend for more than ten years. He was always there for me, no matter what. He had a way of making me laugh with his antics and his expressions. He was a smart cat, too. He knew how to open doors, how to play fetch, how to cuddle when I needed it.
He died four months ago. It was sudden and cruel. I didn’t have time to say goodbye. I didn’t have time to do anything. I just watched him fade away, helpless and heartbroken.
I still think of him every day. I still see him in my dreams. I still feel him in my arms. Sometimes I hear his meow or his purr, and I turn around, hoping to catch a glimpse of him. But he’s not there. He’s gone.
But he’s not forgotten. He lives on in my memories, and in my project. A project that I started actually even before he passed away. A project that I call “Tigger’s World Tour”.
You see, Tigger loved to travel. But he never had the opportunity to do so. There were so many places that he didn’t get to see. So many places that I wanted to show him. So many places that I wanted to share with him.
So I decided to bring him with me, in a way. I made a stack of stickers that look like postage stamps, with his portrait.
Whenever I go somewhere new, I stick one of these stickers somewhere visible, somewhere public, somewhere where other people can see it. It’s like leaving a mark of Tigger’s presence, a sign of his spirit, a tribute to his memory.
It’s also like sending him a postcard, telling him where I am and what I’m doing, telling him that I miss him and that I love him.
Tigger has been to many places since he died. He’s been to the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. He's also been to Tulum in Mexico, and Santa Monica Pier in the USA. The Hagia Sophia in Turkiye. He’s even been up the Banff Gondola to the Sulphur Mountains. He’s also been to Pike Place Market in Seattle. That's the last spot he visited.
Pike Place is a famous market where you can find all kinds of things: fish and flowers and fruits and vegetables and crafts and souvenirs and more. It’s also where you can find a wall covered with stickers and posters and graffiti and art. A wall that represents the diversity and creativity and history of Seattle.
A wall that has one of Tigger’s stickers on it.
Can you spot it?
It’s not easy to find. It’s hidden among hundreds of other stickers, some old and faded, some new and bright.
But it’s there.
It’s there for anyone who cares to look.
It’s there for anyone who wants to say hi to Tigger.
It’s there for anyone who wants to join me in celebrating his life.
Tigger was more than a cat.
He was my companion.
He was my partner.
He was my world.
I am standing at the heart of the Canadian Rockies, at the apex of the Columbia Icefield in Jasper National Park. The air is thin here, crisp and cold, as it mingles with the faint scent of glacial ice. It's a magnificent view, the kind that makes you feel insignificant and infinite all at once. The stark white of the icefield contrasts against the blue of the sky, making the scene look almost surreal.
Yet, as I look around, the grandeur of the scene is marked by an undeniable sense of loss. I can see the rate of retreat etched in the landscape, a harsh reminder of the rapidly changing climate. The Columbia Icefield, a majestic relic of the last Ice Age, is melting.
It's another record-breaking heatwave in the region, an unnerving reminder of the extent of global warming. I can feel the sun's intensity on my face, harsher than it should be at this altitude. I hear the occasional thunderous crack of ice breaking away, a disturbing symphony that accompanies the quiet whisper of the wind.
I take a moment to sit on a rock and soak in the reality of the situation. I'm here, in this moment, witnessing the slow demise of a natural wonder. It's a strange feeling, knowing that this landscape, so vast and seemingly eternal, is fading. I feel a pang of guilt mixed with sadness.
Climate change isn't just a concept or a statistic in a report.
It's real and tangible.
It's the receding line of the icefield
The softening crunch under my shoes
The increasing heat at this altitude.
This journey has made it clear to me that climate change isn't a distant problem. It's here, now, changing the landscapes we've known and loved. The Columbia Icefield isn't just a tourist spot. It's a symbol, a glaring testament to the urgency of the climate crisis. The Columbia Icefield is a reminder of the fragility of our world. It's a wake-up call to all of us. The question is, will we answer it?
The beauty of the journey is often found not in the destination, but in the journey itself. As I drove through the vast, serene National Forests of Canada, I found myself enveloped in the grandeur of nature, and I found solace and enlightenment within its embrace.
Firstly, I am thankful for having the opportunity to traverse Jasper National Park, Banff National Park, and Yoho National Park. Each one is a jewel in the crown of Canada's natural wonders, each unique, each breathing life into the landscape in its own way. The forests, the mountains, the rivers – they all speak a language as old as time, and yet, it's a language we understand instinctively.
The 11km hike up and down Johnston Falls was a challenge, and testing my endurance. Yet, every step brought a new perspective, a fresh vista that filled my heart with awe. The thunderous roar of the falls was both a testament to the power of nature and a soothing lullaby that washed over me, cleansing my spirit.
The journey to the Ink Pots was equally mesmerizing. Each pot, with its unique color and bubbling water, was like a mirror reflecting the vast sky overhead. The sight brought to mind the words of Kahlil Gibran: "You work that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth." I felt an intimate connection with the world around me, and I was reminded once again of the importance of cherishing these moments of communion with nature.
Driving through the forests and mountains of Canada, I found that the solitude of the journey gave me time to think. The open road, the infinite horizon, and the rhythm of the wheels on the asphalt became my companions. They offered a quiet comfort, a space for introspection, and a chance to look inward and reflect on my journey – not just through Canada, but through life itself.
In these moments of solitude, I was reminded of the importance of gratitude. I am grateful for the privilege to witness such beauty, to breathe the clean air, to listen to the symphony of nature. I am grateful for the strength to hike, to explore, to drive. And I am grateful for the wisdom to appreciate these blessings.
Driving through the National Forests of Canada, I learned that each journey we embark on is a reflection of our own life's journey. Each road we take, each mountain we climb, each river we cross, is a metaphor for our own struggles and triumphs, our own joys and sorrows. And in the end, it's not about the destination – it's about the journey, the experiences, the memories, and the lessons we learn along the way.
As I write this, I am filled with a sense of tranquility and fulfillment. I look forward to my next journey, my next exploration, my next drive. And I carry with me the echoes of the forest, the roar of the falls, and the wisdom of the open road.
Until then, remember: The journey is the destination. Embrace it, cherish it, learn from it. And most importantly, be grateful for it.
Since the last Royal Caribbean Cruise trip ended abruptly with a COVID scare, I was determined to use the cruise credits for another trip before the Quantum of the Seas sails away (I heard the next ship is a smaller vessel).
As we were already familiar with the cruise ship, we cleared the immigration checkpoints fairly swiftly and after dropping off our stuff in the cabins, we went up to the open-air deck. M and I got ourselves the beverage plan (what's a trip without beverages?!) and I immediately got myself my first tipple.
In fact, over the course of the next three nights, I would have consumed the following (in the right sequence):
I found the food to be rather decent (for the price which we were paying). There was no need to visit a specialty restaurant at all. As we went on this cruise during the low season, we were well-attended by the service staff.
Naturally, my favourite spot in the entire cruise ship was the solarium. The solarium was designated as a kids-free zone, so we could really unwind and relax with ambient jazz music, low humidity and fresh sunshine. I was determined not to get an internet plan, so that I could concentrate on some good ol' reading.
I prepared some ebooks on my Kindle, and started with The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin. I got to about 50% of the book but found it to be rather dry, and switch over to The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben, which I finished on Day 2. By the end of the cruise, I was also halfway through Persuasive Copywriting: Cut Through the Noise with Impact by Andy Maslen. I took some notes on my Ultra for future reference as there were some great tips which would without doubt come in handy for my Wellaholic marketing later on.
The other fun thing which I was looking forward to trying again was surfing at the Flowrider. Most of the slots for the Flowrider was allocated to the boogie board. In order to do the surfing, we had to wait for the 1630 to 1700 slot for advanced surfers. I wasn't very experienced in surfing, having done it only once at the Wavehouse at Sentosa, but I was resolute to try it again. And it was great fun!
All in all, it was a great trip, filled with great food and drinks, great company, excellent conversations and lots of exercise and group activities. With no overseas travel in the next year (or two), this cruise was a great respite from the humdrum monotony of daily work back in Singapore. I look forward to the next trip soon!
In this age of consumerism, and augmented with ecommerce, it is so easy for everyone to make a purchase as soon as we have some money in our wallets (ewallets count). With each purchase, we feel a little happier, but more often than not, that happiness or satisfaction dissipates within a week or two.
It turns out that the cause of this (dissipation) lies with adaptation. As soon as the stuff that we buy becomes ordinary, the satisfaction that we get with it diminshes. Then we are back to square one - pursuing that momentary pleasure with the next purchase.
However, research carried out at Cornell University has found a way around this vicious cycle. Psychology professor Thomas Gilovich revealed that we experience the same increase in happiness when we buy something (we want) and also when we travel. The more significant finding -- was that the amount of happiness that we get from our buys diminishes over time, but the memories of our travelling experience continues to linger and persist, and this makes us more fulfilled and happy over a prolonged time.
Deriving Joy from Experiences
Making plans for events and experiences, travelling and going on trips, and trying our new things -- all these manifest as new sources of joy and happiness for all of us. While a new toy or device will become normal, every new memory will contribute to the happiness bank that will make us really really happy for the rest of our lives.
Summary of My Norway-in-a-Nutshell Trip
Honestly, this was my first attempt to commit time to do a day-by-day blogging of my Norway-in-a-Nutshell trip. It was a time-consuming affair, as writing, journalling or blogging should be focused on quality rather than quantity, on passion rather than facts. In this aspect, this would be a work in progress, and I might just add more bits and pieces in time to come.
But with everything, I would have less time once I am back in Singapore. So it would be wise to summarise everything here, at least as a tidy first draft.
Norway Day-by-Day Journal Entries
Throught the Norway trip, I have stopped to take many 360 photos. I was able to upload them into a single Norway collection at Kuula. You can see my 360 photos via this link or directly below.
Kirkenes, bordering Russia
Kirkenes is the capital of the municipality of Sør-Varanger. It is also the end stop for the Hurtigruten cruise, after which the cruise ship will sail back down to Bergen. Kirkenes has the privilege of being ice-free as a port-of-call even during winter, with all year access to the Barents sea.
My first impression of this small city was its close association with Russia. Kirkenes was heavily bombed by the Germans during World War 2, suffering almost a total destruction as the Germans retreated from the area.
Crossing into Russia?
Kirkenes is only 17km away from the Norway-Russian border. There were tours that would bring curious visitors to the border, and then visit a small souvenir shop to buy some mementoes. However, at 700 NOK, it was very pricey hence I decided to save some money.
Eating cheap for dinner
Since I have been eating really well onboard the Hurtigruten, it was time to eat simple and affordably. In the afternoon, we went to the REMA1000 supermarket to get some wraps, potato salad and sausages for dinner. An a bottle of fine organic Malbec!
To the Edge of the World
To a certain extent, the trip to the North Cape is the culmination of all the highlights of the trip. More symbolic than anything else, this would have brought me from the southern parts of Oslo and Bergen to the northern edges of North Cape and Kirkenes. The North Cape is the northernmost point on the European mainland. At 71 degrees North, it is on the same latitude of Siberia and also the top of Alaska.
The Hurtigruten Richard With docked at Honningsvåg, a small functional port. A flock of seagulls were basking at the quiet pier area. We packed the buses and then it was a 40km journey towards North Cape, traversing the area of Mageroya.
Along the way, we passed the "northernmost beach of the world", a small sandy bay that look utterly unimpressive. I caught a reindeer grazing on the tundra plains. While the tourists stood up on the bus to have a good photo shot of the reindeer, the tour guide remarked, "don't worry, you should be seeing more reindeers along the way."
True enough, there were more reindeers to be seen, grazing on the green grassy tundra. Apparently, all the reindeer in Norway are domesticated animals owned by the Sami farmers, who were indigenous to this region.
Every family of reindeer farmers has summer and winter pastures, which they switch between to ensure that their reindeer have enough food. Early in the spring, before the reindeer calves are born, the herd starts to head for the coast. The animals spend the whole summer here under the midnight sun, and when autumn rolls around they begin the long trek back to their winter pasture farther inland. I understood from the guide that in a week or two, the Sami farmers would be guiding the herd back to the mainland. It would either be a 2km swim by the reindeer or through the specially constructed tunnel.
At the Northern Most Already
A while later, we arrived at the North Cape. It was the usual photo-taking at the symbolic North Cape Globe. What was more memorable for me was the walk along the cliff at the edge of the world. It was yet another sunny day, and with the cool breeze, it was a great day for walking.
I walked as far as time allowed, and standing on the edge of the world, I took all the sights in. I gathered some of the larger rocks and stacked them together. Now, I have created the northern-most rock deck! For world peace, perhaps. The overnight winds would destroy it in no time, in any case.
The Northern City of the Northern Lights
The cruise ship brought us all the way north to Tromso, one of the northern-most cities of Norway. We had a few hours to spare at Tromso, so we disembarked and decided to roam around a bit in Tromso.
Located 400km north of the Arctic Circle at 69 degrees North, the small city of Tromso is also known as Norway's gateway to the Arctic. It's surrounded by chilly fjords and craggy peaks that remain snowcapped for much of the year. Even in this late summer, I could see some remnants of snow that's unlikely to melt away, since the temperatures would be dropping once again when summer ends.
To the Arctic Cathedral and the Cable Car
We walked through the town, and then crossed the iconic Tromso Bridge over to have a look at the Arctic Cathedral. Nearby, within walking distance, there was also the cable car that brought visitors up to the Fjellheisen, 421 metres above sea level for a small fee of 210 NOK. After the funicular in Bergen, I did not see a need to go up to another peak again, so M went ahead to the peak, while I waited at the foot of the cable car station and I read my Kindle book and relaxed a bit instead.
The rain clouds started to gather, and as it started to drizzle, we made a beeline back to the cruise ship, and by evening time we were once again on our way.
30th August 2019, Friday
Day 11 of the Norway in a Nutshell Cruise
From Cruise to Lofoten Islands
Before we arrived at the Lofoten Islands, we were already out in the deck. The sun was back again, and the sea glittered in the rays of the sun. It was warm, but the cool winds balanced the heat. The Lofoten Islands appeared in the distance. It was great weather, and being on the cruise ship for the whole day, I was looking forward to visiting the islands.
The Hurtigruten docked at almost 7 pm. But because it was still late summer, the skies were still bright. The Italian guide remarked that we were the second last island tour for the season - as summer has ended and there would be no further tours. We quickly boarded the coach that would bring us through the various connected islands of Lofoten all the way from Nusfjord to Svolvaer.
Chasing Daylight at the Lofoten Islands, Norway
Perhaps we were trying to chase daylight, and the sun was gradually setting, the landscape changed as the hues of pink covered the skies. Lofoten's landscape was a mixture of rolling hills with occasional peaks, and surrounded by water, of course.
Personally I expected a little bit more from Lofoten, and maybe because it was already getting dark, the overall experience was not as fantastic, as compared to the Trollstigen tour. Eventually, I was happy to get on board the ship at about 11 pm, after a quick dinner at Svolvaer.
I am MrWildy and I am trying to journal more about my life and also my travels. Find out more about me here.