Sunday, 10 March 2013

Birthday time zones

Curious emu in OZ
Last year on my birthday I was on hiding from the vibrant sun under a tiny umbrella on Manly Beach, in Australia, wishing I knew how to surf because the people that flock to the white sand beaches looked like they were loving the last week of summer in the surf. Summer was slow to come to Australia but we hit the sweet spot on our two week trip, enjoying dazzling autumn weather.

The most famous site in Sydney
This year is slightly different. It is my birthday and we are up at 5 a.m. sitting in the lounge waiting for a flight out of Singapore. Our passports are stamped, our employment passes have been surrendered at the border, we have withdrawn as much cash as our pockets will carry and it is sayonara, Singapore. We arrived during Year of the Rabbit and now that Year of the Snake has slithered into Asia, we are onto the next chapter in our lives.

Saying goodbye to wonderful friends
It occurred to me that I have written over 50 chapters on Asia and abroad. I started this blog as a way to keep me sane, in an insane place. When I came to Asia, I thought I would be lonesome and never meet any friends but that thought couldn’t have been further from the truth. I have kept so busy that often I don’t have time to write, the way I would like. I met interesting, friendly people from every corner of this small world, and no matter how far away they lived from Canada, we all had something in common, being so far from home.

R2 learning to make takoyaki
Some of my closest friends don’t speak much English but we still manage to laugh and figure out what the other is trying to say. When I said goodbye to my wonderful friend from Japan, she was so overwhelmed, everything she said as she cried was in Japanese; she forgot any English she ever knew. It didn’t matter what she said, I understood.

The blog has taken on a life of its own and the first question is whether it will continue when I leave Asia. I wish I could answer that, and I wish I knew the title or whether LaynainAsia will remain. I have reached 20,000 readers in one year, was nominated Blogger of the Year in Singapore, and it shows no signs of stopping, but my Asian life has. 

I loved my elephants
I started this blog as a way to keep my children and friends updated on our adventures, and I started writing for the newspaper so my parents knew I was not stranded on some island in the middle of the South China sea. However, knowing my love for technology, even if I was, I would find a way to connect. I can picture R2 up a coconut tree trying to find a signal for my phone so I could keep in touch. “Layna, do you have signal, how many bars are there, maybe if I move my hand to the right? How about now?”

Since I began telling my Singapore friends we are leaving, it has been difficult saying farewell. I don’t do “goodbyes” well, and I avoid them at all costs because I am trying to save the environment from all the soggy tissues I produce. 

Our biggest challenge is our return to Canada. Arturo, yes, that is his real name because most English speakers can’t roll the second R and find R2 an easier way to address my husband, is not a Canadian citizen. Many people think if you are married, it is an automatic freebie into the country. Not so. We have struggled for more than four years to have the federal government grant him a Canadian residency. We have written, phoned, begged, pleaded, spoken to our political leaders and still that tiny piece of paper that grants him Residency is out of our reach. 

I will miss the animals
It is a mystery why they are making us jump through every hoop, cross, all Tees and dot every I when we see thousands of people immigrating to Canada that can barely murmur “hello”. He is a well educated man that speaks four languages and has lived all around the world, with a professional respect that many will never achieve. He pays his Canadian taxes, rarely uses any medical care and is not a burden to the country. He loves Canada almost as much as he love me, and it was his decision to give it one last shot before we are too old and will be denied Citizenship forever. If that is the case, Viva la Mexico.

It is my turn to support and work, while he follows his passion for cooking. Twenty odd years, running from airport to airport, living in suitcase and hotels is more than most people could take. Many think it is glamourous, but once I lived this “envied” life with him, it is far from that. Yes, you see many countries, but before he met me, each looked the same from a hotel room window. I made him leave the comfort of the hotel and see the landscapes with my innocent eyes. Even though he would return, often exhausted, he never denied me when I had something to show him in every location we travelled. 

We will persevere with an Immigration lawyer from Vancouver, to help our cause because nothing, to date, has helped. The amount of money he has spent on immigration could front a small country for a few years. We feel we are close, but we need to not be traveling to secure the papers. It is a sad state of affairs that everyone in Mexico is deemed part of a drug cartel and the hard working people that want a better life don’t get a chance. The divorce rate of international couples is staggering because often one person isn’t allowed into the country and it is too difficult to live apart. We have chosen not to let anyone deny us our right to be, us, so if Canada is not the place, then other countries will welcome his skills and professionalism gladly.

Amazing Asia
I want to thank all of my readers from my blog and the paper that have followed, left comments, laughed and cried at my stories. The people that phoned my family and said, “That is your daughter, sister or friend? We love her writing,” bless you. That means more than you know, to know you enjoy reading about our crazy life. While I have worked for the Government of Saskatchewan for 16 years, I feel this is my true calling, and I have a spouse and family that backs me 100 per cent.

I am not certain LaynainRegina, or LaynaBackatWorkintheSnow will be amusing and entertaining, but I promise you, we will scale the CN Tower in Toronto, or hike the Three Sisters in Alberta to keep you amused as you log on, whilst drinking your morning coffee or your evening Gin and Tonic by the pool in Singapore.

We are in the Hong Kong airport, waiting for our next flight to Canada; we have two more to go. While it seems like such a long way home, I know I get two birthdays once we cross one of the many time zones. My children have already wished me happy birthday in Asia, and tomorrow, I get to hear their voices. R2 hasn’t stepped foot in Canada since 2011, so having him back here with me is the best present I could ask for.

Please don’t forget us, and follow us on Until we meet again, or as they say in my kampong in Singapore “Sehingga kita bertemu lagi.” Let’s leave it at that to save the trees from my tears.


  1. Layna - you are so amazing - you just keep getting better and if you can believe it, even more fun to read. I wish you the best in your endeavours to write a book, but most of all, I wish you the best in life. Arturo is apparently contributing a great deal towards that !
    I feel very blessed that I met both of you - even if for only a short time. It is amazing how much you can gain from a sump pump misdirected.
    Enjoy what you are doing wherever you are. Please keep on writing!
    If you end up visiting in this neck of the woods, I still have some wine !!!
    Take care of you - and those you love.

    1. Thank you for your kind words Miss Joan. You can count on us to un-sump pump you anytime. Hold the wine because you never know when we will pop over!

  2. Amazing blog! I can't believe how much time has passed since you left the country! so much has been done. Its hard to tell whats going to happen in the near near future with the papers but the certain thing is there are more adventures and blogs to come!


    1. Thank you to my number one fan, Luuuuuuucas! So glad you enjoy the madcap adventures of laynainasia and her trusty sidekick R2! You will be the next generation of wild adventurers.... Myanmar, Brunei, Japan, Ghana, Ethiopia.....all there for the imagination to run wild.

  3. You, my girl rock.....super great blog - good luck with your new gig, whereever you are in this little ole world. WE love you, we miss you and we love the writing. You are the next best seller...and I can say I knew her to you and R2. Stay safe, stay warm and stay in touch.

    1. I will stay as warm as I can, I promise. I hated the hot, muggy heat almost as much as I hate the intense, freezing blizzard. Somewhere, there has to be a happy medium.

  4. Its such as you learn my thoughts! You appear to know a lot approximately this,
    such as you wrote the ebook in it or something. I think that you simply can do with some % to pressure the message house a bit, but other than that, that is excellent blog. A fantastic read. I will definitely be back.

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  5. One of your best pieces of work Layna!! Truly from the heart. You had me all the way through. Bill

    1. Thank you Bill - and for such a gruff guy, I had you all of the way through! Maybe I should write for Hallmark?

  6. You are a great writer. You have the magic of sentence flow and mental pictures in your narratives. Keep up the good work

  7. We miss you in Asia, Layna. Hope you are safe, well, and happy out of this heat. You are a wonderful, talented woman...keep writing, por favor!

  8. Asia's loss is Canada's gain. I loved your sense of storytelling. You are a first class writer and I hope to see you published. Whereever you land in Canada or beyond.....they are going to be lucky to have you, Madam!

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