Yes, that is me. I was going to say the one with the grey hair but then I realize that there are two of us with grey hair in the photo above. I am the one with longer grey hair and a coconut in hand; my friend the donkey has the shorter grey hair. The other picture is also me, on my cross country skis. I was stuck. Those bull rushes (I am not sure what else to call them) are tougher than they look … I could not go forward or sideways. I eventually shuffled backward, exited using my original tracks. The last one was taken in the middle of Colombian jungle; you may say “in the middle of nowhere”.
These three pictures say a lot about me, Caroline Cheng. Now, I should go back a few years. I was born in Taiwan and moved to Canada as a child with my mother and brother to join my father who was already in Winnipeg. The first whiff of the cold March Canadian air made an indelible impression in my young mind; it was so different than the subtropical country I left behind. I would soon learn that mother nature was kind to me on my first day in Canada; it was above freezing and sunny.
The first step in any new country is to learn the new language, English, followed by adapting to a new culture. Neither is painless but necessary. The next big move for the family is to Tillsonburg, a big town in the tobacco area in southern Ontario because my father got a job in the lab of Borden. Tillsonburg was an complete immersion in the Canadian Culture. We were the second Chinese family in town; the first one owned the local Chinese restaurant. I made friends and started my working life there. My first summer job was scrubbing toilet in a nursing home. The next move is to Mississauga, on the edge of Toronto, where I stayed to finish my high school and university.
Like a typical youngster of my generation, I moved out as soon as possible. My first stop was Kingston (away from Toronto and parenteral guidance) where I completed my residency in hospital pharmacy. After that, I moved west, to Grande Prairie in northern Alberta, for my first job. I only stayed a year but learned a couple of important lessons; winter can be comfortable and enjoyable at minus 40; and life is not boring if one take advantage of friendship and everything offered. It was back to Ontario after my short stint in Alberta; first Owen Sound, followed by London (Ontario), and then finally Ottawa.
I currently lives in Ottawa and am working as a pharmacist in a medium size community hospital. As with any job in healthcare, mine can be stressful. My hobbies help me relax and stay sane; and I have three – traveling, the outdoors, and art.
First, I love to travel. I am not sure when that started but I do remember wanting to visit England when I was in high school. I started as soon as I made enough money to pay my way. My very first big foreign trip was bouncing across the Andes in the back of an old red school bus. Yes, I was in Machu Picchu before it was “discovered” by the modern tourists and I also ventured down a Bolivian mine with horrible working conditions on that same trip. I have not stopped traveling since. I even took a year off to travel around the world. Cheaper destinations, mostly third world countries, came first as I did not have a lot of money in the beginning. The more expensive countries waited until money is more available. No, I have not been everywhere and nor will I ever be. There is always more adventures just around the corner; be it across the city or across the world.
Another of my passion is the great outdoors. Again, I am not sure when I developed the fondness to be outside except that I appreciate the beauty of nature. Gatineau Park is a wilderness area within half hour drive of downtown Ottawa and is one the reason I moved to Ottawa. It is a wonderful place to wonder around; by hiking boots in spring and fall and by skis in the winter. It is lovely to watch spring flowers sprout and then bloom; water from the melting snow tumbling down cliffs; and turtles sunning themselves in the spring. The fall means no bugs and the colours change from green to red, orange, yellow, and brown. The winter brings snow and the joy of gliding through a magical world of white.
I have always been interested in art. It is not something that any parents would encourage in their child as it is usually not synonymous with affluence. I always had the urge to capture images on camera and later, on paper. My journey in painting started with oriental brush painting in my 40’s. However, I soon run out of adequate teachers as I live in Ottawa. I was also frustrated by the lack of vivid colours in oriental brush painting. A good friend suggested watercolour and voila, I found my love. I do take classes to paint Wednesday nights; not to learn anything new but to have a dedicated time to paint and to see old friends. However, I do also like to try different things, to get out of my comfort zone. I do travel with my paint and brushes but am normally too busy exploring and gawking to paint. My routine is take the photos and paint in the comfort of my apartment.
I have entertained the thoughts of creating my web site for a few years now. Part of it is because I refuse to get into the “social media” game and share my personal information with some large American corporations. Also, as an artist, I should have a net presence. After much thought, I decided not to have a dedicated this site only for my paintings, at this time. The purpose of this web site is to share my hobbies, art, travel, and hiking/skiing with you. I love to hear form you. Use the contact section for your comments and thoughts.