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May in the Capital

Exciting news, everyone! Earlier this week marked the 5 year anniversary of my blog **hooraaay!**
It also means I've been in Ottawa for almost just as long, as I moved to the capital a few short months afterwards. I've posted about my activities in Ottawa a couples times in the past but in this special "travel" post, I'll be sharing some newer photos as well as some others that I never got around to posting :) Starting off with some shots I took on a evening stroll by Dow's Lake.

yes these are tulips! 

Sometimes I genuinely forget how long I've been in Ottawa, notably whenever my Uber driver asks and I'm like, "oh I haven't been here that long, just since -- oh my god it's been like 5 years??"

I was talking to my parents a few weeks ago and they asked if I plan on staying in Ottawa forever and if I think it's better than Toronto. And honestly, I get asked this question a lot. Everyone wants me to PICK A SIDE but in reality, it's not that one is better than the other, it's that they're very different. I know this sounds like a lame cop-out answer but hear me out! I have a very personal and lengthy explanation that I will now use the rest of my blog post to elaborate.

Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica at twilight

door's open to the Ottawa Jail Hostel

jail cells that you can rent as a room for the night

Toronto for me definitely feels like home, it's where my parents are, my childhood, and still a lot of my friends. Plus, it's sooo exciting all. the. time. but it was only after I left that I realized how it created this underlying anxiety and stress and triggered a perpetual case of FOMO in me because there was always something happening. I felt trapped in this cyclone, this whirlwind of constant activity.

peaceful walkway at The Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat 

gazing down this staircase in the Wellington building

Meanwhile, in Ottawa it's more laid back -- some folks might call it "boring" -- but in my experience, it can be a great environment to allow you to really get in tune with yourself and explore the things you actually want to do. To that point, I truly feel like I learned more about myself by being in Ottawa and developed myself more as a person, whereas in Toronto I was just running around like a headless chicken from one thing to the next.

Couple of personal breakthroughs/discoveries that I credit to my time living in Ottawa:

1. It gave me the time and space to work on my photography (this is the big one).

La Machine 

Long Ma awakens

staring in awe

When I was in Toronto I just felt lost and taking photos of everything. In Ottawa, I found I had the time and space to sit down and really think about what I wanted to get out of my photography, and that's how I came up with these annual projects and focused on specific areas I wanted to develop, and really got to turn photography from being just a hobby into a real passion project.

2. It brought out my inner foodie and developed me as a "phood fotographer".

also I like beer, especially sours! 

I didn't really have a preference in food in Toronto because I found it so easy to go to any restaurant have it be decent. But the restaurant scene is very different in Ottawa and forced me go explore different things and figure out which ones I like and which ones I didn't like and basically led me to develop more of a personal taste and appreciation for food that I previously just took for granted. Furthermore, this really brought food photography to me as a new photography subject! Double win :)

3. It gave me a greater appreciation for travelling.

forest of gold

When I was in Toronto, I talked about travelling but in the sense like "oh yeah, that'd be cool" but I didn't truly feel compelled to go anywhere because frankly, I was already stressed about trying to do it all.

view from the top

hiking buddies! 
But in Ottawa, same with food and photography, exploring around and seeing the city, I figured out what I liked (the closeness to nature is definitely one of my favourite things about Ottawa) and also figured out what I was missing (definitely more exposure to Asian culture), and it's that combination that pushed me to go out and get it! I really think that's why I finally bit the bullet and visited Japan last year.

In Toronto, it can feel like you're constantly being bombarded with signals and noise and which can be very overstimulating and overwhelming -- which again, is exciting for sure. But if there's less noise and you can hear your own thoughts, then it's easier to figure out what it is you want to get out of life, and then it's your life you're living.

I do think I'll eventually go back to Toronto but I feel, contrary to popular belief, it's nice to be in a city like Ottawa at this age because of the personal growth and development. I feel like a lot of folks (my parents included) all consider Toronto as a better choice for young people because of all the career opportunities but I think it really depends on the person because, for me, life is not just work and I truly believe this is a pretty critical point in my personal development to figure out who I am and what kind of person I want to be for the rest of my life.

Hope you enjoyed these photos and I hope I've did Ottawa justice in this post! I know not everyone has the same experience but I wanted to share my story and show my appreciation for this city. Extra shout-out to the friends I've made here that make this place extra special -- y'all know who you are and you da best :)

Thanks for reading!

Events/locations photographed in this post (in order):
  • Tulip Festival by Dow's Lake
  • Door's Open Ottawa
  • La Machine (part of Canada 150 celebration)
  • Beau's Oktoberfest
  • Luskville Falls trail in Gatineau Park

P.S. Some links to older posts featuring cool things to check out in Ottawa: