Jeannie Mark

Tired of corporate life, I swore to change my life on a file folder.  In June 2010, I sold all my earthly possessions and set out to see the world.  Nearly three years later, I'm still traveling, learning and moving through 25 countries and counting.  Supporting other women in travel, writing and pursuing their dreams is balm to my soul.

The Question I Hate: Is it Safe?

Is it safe?Will I be kidnapped?Taken hostage by terrorists?My favorite one: could I be sold into slavery like that movie with Liam Neeson [1]? On a side note, wouldn't it be hawt if he was the one to save you from Eastern European gangster scum?I hate these questions. There, I said it out loud. Not because these questions are stupid, but I often wonder where they come from....more
Good Post ~ We are Expats and get this when we moved to Czech a few years back and of course ...more

5 Reasons in Defense of Blogging

                                                                      Photo: FlickrMartha Stewart can never seem to shut up when she should.  Her recent comments from an interview by Bloomberg's News left an angry mob of lifestyle bloggers nipping at her $850 shoes.  ...more

10 Lessons I’ve Learned as a Solo Girl Traveling the World

Anika was seeking, and sought me out.  A few days ago, her email landed in my inbox.It was loaded. With questions.Can you tell me what’s it’s like?Oh, more painless than the dentist, I guarantee.Isn’t it frightening?I’m more afraid of rats.She was dying to know about IT.  Travel.  Not as a strapping Australian man or a one half of a couple on the verge of spending every day together, worried her relationship wouldn’t survive, and she’ll have to resort to abandoning his useless ass in El Salvador, but traveling strictly as a solo woman.Anika’s email was timely.  I’ve been doing this for a while now, so her nudge forced me to muse on what life lessons I’ve learned during the past three years....more

When They Tell You to Write a Book

                                                         Image: TempusVolatWhen your twelfth grade teacher approaches you and says, "That essay your wrote about the pressures of taking an exam was so well written.  I'm putting together a little book of some student essays, I'd like to include yours."  Say no or pretend you didn't write it, admit that you plagiarized it even though you didn't.Remember when you attended film and broadcasting school and you wrote this haunting piece about letting your lover go, but it was sort of silly and strange to write such a thing for a mere speech writing class, yet you did it anyway.  Your teacher decides to videotape you reading it, to replay it for other students as a demonstration of sound speaking and writing skills, so you skip that day on purpose because you actually wrote it about a guy in your class that you'd been sleeping with on and off, but deep in your guts you really, really like him, and you were so sure he'd know the speech was about him, that you just couldn't face the entire class watching you articulate these feelings, but the next day he stops you between classes and claims your speech was the most eloquent thing he'd ever heard in his life, so you take him home, but you probably should have dumped him right there and enrolled in law school....more

Facing Discrimination in China

I grew up hard knocks.  In a rough town swirling with cowboys, farmers and loud, brash oilmen.  Calgary, Alberta is not a place for the wimpy, faint hearted types.  Think of it as Texas, you know that state where three white men were once convicted of dragging a black man down the road with their car, cause hell - it was fun to torture another human being.As a child the 'C' word was hurled at me during casual passings. As though it was a typical behavioral tick when greeting a stranger.  Flipping your hair, exacting a smile, rubbing your earlobe till it turns red."Hey chink!"  I'd turn my head like a beaten puppy, despising myself for responding at all.  My jaw would finally unlock and my slack mouth awakened, spitting back defensive language, yet I felt numb and powerless as the perpetrator was gone within minutes down the street.Sometimes I stood frozen.  Unsure whether to run after them or let the hot, angry tears come.  It didn't happen everyday of my childhood, but it certainly happened.  Those are sad memories to have of a childhood home.I digress.  Truthfully, Calgary was mostly a sedate city to grow up in.  A land of sprawling suburban homes and manicured lawns.  No black men were ever dragged behind cars.  Which is why those hateful balls of hurt stunned me so much.  When you think you're biting into a piece of sweet chocolate, but taste battery acid instead.In my childhood city, a small town mentality circulated among the farmers, cowboys and oilmen.  In one breath you heard a friendly 'hello', chat to someone forever in small talk, but at times the slicing word 'faggot' might slip out.  Racism and discrimination were expressed without awkwardness.  Simmering under the inviting smiles and willingness to banter, an ignorance lingered.  The urge to pat them on the head was strong, to reassure yourself and them, they just don't know any better and may never grow out of it....more

That Awful Time I Found Out I'm a Woman and Asian

By age six, the world's mysteries open up and offer this pearl.I'm a girl.Sometimes I wear a dress that floats above my knees and lifts when a gust blows in.  Or at times I play with dolls.  Or god forbid, mommy combs my hair vigorously, then tightens two clumps of hair on either side of my head to create pigtails.  And the ribbons, she never forgets those.  I'm told to never talk to strange people.  It's unclear how that word translates into the crosswalk patrol near my elementary school, or my first grade teacher who smells of stale cheese and wears coke bottle glasses. I chalk up "strange" to mean people with goitres, maybe some other unspeakable deformity that will terrify me....more
@TrishnaPillai Cheers!  Thanks for commenting!more

On Aging, Sex and Travel

In China, it is considered unlucky and offensive to give someone a clock on their birthday. The word for clock in Mandarin is similar to the word for death. It also symbolizes time ticking away  – bringing us closer to that unmentionable state.I just celebrated my birthday in China, where I've been living for over two months now, stationary as a bolted down chair. It's been pleasant to slow down, celebrate my arrival to the earth in a calm, orderly way – go out with friends, eat food that melted in my mouth, consume liquor, dance like I was 20 again and pass out. It was painstakingly normal, a footnote of a birthday, yet oddly enough this one came with questions....more

My Brother Told Me: "Get a Real Job!"

He dove into his two patty burger with relish, taking a large bite as meat juice ran down his chin.  I picked at my salad.  We sat in silence listening to rock music blaring from the overhead speakers.  I suggested this place, since it was close to my brother's home.  It's rare that I visit and rather than aimlessly drive around the flat, grassy plains of Calgary's suburbs, it seemed a good idea to stop here....more
@ATableForOnePlease So nice meeting you here.  I'll definitely check out your blog.  It will ...more

Leaving Everything to Travel

Over three years ago, I made the decision to leave my middle-class existence to travel non-stop, here is my origins story......more