In the Air

10 Things I Learned While Travelling the World

I’ve been back in Canada for a little less than a month now and have had some time to decompress and to think about my trip.  At first, I thought I hadn’t really changed at all during my travels, but it actually has in a million tiny ways.  I’d like to share that with you now:

10. The Journey is the Thing

My trip had no specific goal, other than to relax, enjoy and experience the world that was far away from home.  This turned out to a great way to travel and, for me, to not focus on the result, but to really take the journey for what it was – an adventure into the unknown.

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9. We are all the Same

I included this in my last list, but I want to say it again.  I love people, and the truest realization I had again while I was overseas is that we are all, at our most basic level, very similar.  We just want to be happy; to have enough food to eat, a roof over our heads, some people who love us and a purpose in life that brings us joy.  I saw all kinds of people living in many different ways as I worked though six countries, but they all have this in common. We are all part of one big human family, and it doesn’t matter where you are from or what you are doing with your life, some things are the same within all of us.

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8. Travel is as Easy and as Hard as you Want it To Be

PATIENCE.  This one virtue has eluded me my whole life, and nothing cures the need for control than a less than smooth travel experience.  I learned about the essence of the journey in my search for patience as I met setbacks and mishaps along the road.   I learned how to be more adaptable, to let things slide, and to only care about the most important things along the way.

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7. Roll with the Waves

This one is a good follow-up to #8.  When I rolled with the upsets along the way, the journey got even more interesting: I saw some things I would otherwise have missed, or had a completely new experiences I wasn’t expecting to have.  By saying “Yes!” I got into more trouble, saw more unexpected things, and had more impromptu adventures than if I had stuck to a strict schedule and followed it the whole way along.

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6. Pay Attention

I learned that there is beauty in the details.  That every city is an intricate mess that somehow works in its own unique way.  That the road less traveled sometimes results in a washed out car or monkeys attacking your windshield.  To stop and save the kittens, get lost on a bike and get found again, and that fun can be found in every airport, bus station, or boat ride.  By paying true attention to my surroundings, I was also able to glimpse into the local life of the people, and have real experiences from the country I was visiting.  That, to me, is priceless.

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5. Embrace the Inner Hippie

I’m normally a goal-oriented, round the clock, by the book kind of person.  To escape that mentality for a while and embrace my inner beach bum was an enlightening experience.  I had whole days with no plans and nothing to do, vague ideas of where the day would take me, and days where I just went with the flow.  That rarely happens in my “real” life in Canada, and it was refreshing to break out of the bubble of who I think I am and step into the sandals of my inner Hippie Goddess.  She is someone I want to know better, and a side of me that I won’t soon forget now that we’ve been re-aquainted!

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4. Trust the Kindness of Strangers

In my travels I stayed with family friends, friends of friends, new friends and people I didn’t even know at all. I was welcomed into countless homes with open arms, to people eager to share in my travel journey and get to know me.  I feel SO blessed to now have friends from all over the world, and want to thank each and every one of you for your hospitality and help in exploring all these new places 🙂 If you ever travel, and someone recommends that you stay with a friend or you have family/friends to stay with overseas, DO IT! It will completely change your perspective on the country you are visiting, because you get to see it through the eyes of a local.  A thousand thank-you’s again to all those who put me up while I was abroad!  You are welcome to return the favour here in Canada anytime!

3. Comfort Zones are Boring

I did something new and crazy in every country I went to: Surfing in Indonesia, Parasailing in Philippines, and even Skydiving in New Zealand.  Get out of your comfort zone and try some new and crazy stuff.  It will enrich your travel experience and add a whole new level of fun.  Besides, that’s what travel is for: new experiences and adventures! It doesn’t matter how scared you are – do something wild and crazy!  eat that cricket off a Bangkok bug cart!  Take the jet boat ride through the canyon!  Throw yourself out of a plane! These things are the highlights of my travels as I look back on them now, the times I challenged myself and really went for it.

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2. Theres No Place like Home

Canada is an amazing country. I learned this while I was abroad through other travellers stories about my home country, that it is a well-loved place in the world and worth exploring in its own right.  Talking about it with others made me realize how much I love being a Canadian and how lucky I am to call this place my home.  I never really appreciated it until I left for a long time and realized what a phenomenal place it is.

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1. I am SO lucky

The fact that I was able to pull off this trip still boggles my mind.  There was so much planning involved – a years worth of time and effort went into it, and now that I’m back I can see what a privileged position I hold as a citizen of Canada.  I have enough food to eat, a roof over my head, and friends and family who love and care about me.  The rest is just gravy!  Upon returning I went to my bathroom and turned on the tap, thinking back to all the times I didn’t have access to fresh water on my travels. Something as simple as turning on the tap can take on new meaning after travelling: it represents all that we take for granted, being from a first world country were every comfort is provided for.  I feel that, now, I am able to name how lucky I truly am.

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Well. That’s it!  I’m sure I will update this blog again in the future as life takes me on more travels, but for now I am happy to have landed back in Canada, ready to take on the world 🙂

xo

D

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Categories: Australia, Cambodia, In the Air, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Phillipines, Singapore, Thailand | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Back to Canada at Last

The next morning I woke up in my new dorm pretty disoriented, where was I?

Oh yea. In New Zealand, about to fly back to Canada after almost four months of travel!! Weeee!  I packed up all my stuff for the last time, after a long hot shower and met some other friends who were staying in the Jailhouse for a hot breakfast and coffee.  We had a great time just comparing stories and enjoying each others company before setting off to the airport together, since we all had flights around a similar time.  At the airport, I saw a few more friends who had been on the trip, disembarking back to all four corners of the world.  I was lucky enough to have my friend Tim on my flight back to Auckland, and we drank wine as we waited for our flight. yum!  I love NZ wine!

Back in Auckland I had a few hours to kill, and blogged some more while waiting for the EPIC thirteen hour flight that would bring me back to Canada.  In actuality, it didn’t turn out that bad, I had a seat next to me that was empty on the plane, so could stretch out a bit.  I watched a few movies and even managed to get some sleep with the help of two more glasses of delicious NZ red.

Vancouver was my last stop on the looong way back to Toronto, and I had two hours to kill in Vancity.  I didn’t leave the airport, I should have made one of my Vancouver friends come out and see me and go out somewhere for food in Richmond or something, but was pretty groggy and just wanted to get back to Tdot at that point.  Vancouver, I’m coming to see you another time, I promise!

My final flight wasn’t too bad either, I felt kind of rested, there was a seat free in the middle again, and I had bought a new book that was holding my attention.  At 12:30 am I finally landed in my hometown.  I was the only one with an entourage to greet me as I came out of the luggage area – my whole family was there to welcome me back! It felt so good to get all those hugs and kisses I’d been missing while I was travelling.  I even got some beautiful flowers as a welcome home present!

I’m HOME!!!!! Finally!  What an incredible journey this summer was.  I hope all of you can experience some kind of epic trip like I have. It’s been fantastic to be able to share it with you through this blog.

xoxo

D

Categories: In the Air, New Zealand | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Roundabout Trip to Boracay

Oh, travel days. How I DON’T love you. That’s right. I said it.

We boarded the plane for Singapore, and had a three-hour stopover there after an uneventful flight.  We figured out that between us we would be taking over thirty flights on our travels!! I think I will be happy to be grounded for a long while after this trip!!
The Singapore airport was UNREAL.  Even in the middle of the night, every store was open, the entire food court was open, and there was tons of stuff to see and do, including some weird Asian gardens (even an outdoor one), an entertainment center, many sweet lounges and lots of WiFi! there is even a rooftop pool but we didn’t see it so maybe it doesn’t exist?  We chilled with some life-size M+M’s though…
After our airport stop there was a supremely uncomfortable and full three-hour flight to Manila in the middle of the night (literally 12 to 3 am for us) and when we got to Manila, there was an overpriced taxi to the domestic terminal and no one for us to talk to about booking a flight to Kalibo and onwards to Boracay.  That’s right, the stupid tourists thought they could arrive at four in the morning and book a flight onwards without any trouble.  RIGHT??? WRONG.  The next flight was at 11am and we were S**T outta luck until then.  So we settle in for a nap on the tiled floor, hugging our bags and trying not to look like the greasy backpackers that we were by that point.
After finally checking in and finding some adequate breakfast in what has got to be the grossest domestic terminal I’ve ever seen (the roof is caving in…) we found, to our delight, that the flight was delayed!! woo!  So there was more waiting and waiting and waaaaiting to do.  Our flight finally boarded two hours late and we took the hour-long flight to Kalibo.  We were delirious by this point, and there was still a two-hour bus ride to go and a ferry trip AND a bus ride to our hotel, but this was actually made very easy for us by the lovely SouthWest Tours Boracay, which handled all our transport arrangements as we were in no shape to do so.  We just forked over about 500 Peso (12.50) and they herded us this way and that until we wound up at our guesthouse, Trafalgar Cottages, where the very lovely Julie awaited us and showed us some beds we could crash in. And crash we did!!
Thirteen hours later we woke up in Boracay, and to our delight discovered our trip was worth it, as it was one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen!!
Note: Zest Air (affiliate of AirAsia in the Philippines) is officially the worst airline I’ve ever flown with – most of our flights have been delayed, on was outright cancelled, and they have added an extra layer of stress to our holiday.  I strongly suggest that if you can afford it to save yourself some hassle and book on another airline.  Their customer service is some kind of awful, as well.
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Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

I’ve survived the first two parts of my journey, including the longest flight I’ve ever taken in my life.  Whew.  I’m almost there!  I said goodbye to Canada and my family yesterday (at least I think it was yesterday, I’m between time zones right now). We had a teary goodbye at the airport and I had deja-vu from my trip last year, feeling nervous and excited all at the same time – anxious to go but apprehensive about my capability to pull this trip off.  I didnt cry this year, I was too wound up to realize how long its going to be before I see my wonderful family and my amazing friends!  I cried a little on the plane but I followed my best friend Holly’s advice about crying in public: put your damn sunglasses on, hold a tissue and pretend its allergies. Thanks babe.
The view from YVR

The view from YVR

The first flight was uneventful, I’ve done the YYZ-YVR trip so many times it seems pretty natural. It was sad to only be able to stay in Vancity for a few hours, I lived there for fouryears and wish I could have hopped off and seen all my friends!  Next year!  The second flight was 13 hours long. Euuugh. I popped two heavy duty motion sickness pills and drank a beer which was my patented sleep remedy for long hauls in T-land last year. It worked like a charm!  I awoke to find that I only had five hours left until touchdown in Manila. Yay!
It never hits me until I get on the plane. What am I doing this for? Why do I feel the need to go halfway across the world just to see whats out there? How will it change me?
The secret that I’m learning is this: life and people are the same all over the world – you go to see something new and all you see are skyscrapers, bland airports and fast food restaurants just like you have at home. Globalization at its finest, people.  The challenge lies in the journey, of pushing yourself off the cliff and WAY out of your comfort zone.  The places I visit may very well be breathtaking and unusual, or maybe boring and uninspiring, but the experiences I have along the path will change me either way.  Adventure awaits!
But for now im sitting in an ugly transfer lounge in Manilla’s Ninoy Aquino airport, waiting for something (anything!) to happen so I can get on my next and second last flight. THERES NO WIFI! FOR THE LOVE OF GODDDDD!!
Plus I read my whole damn book on the way from Toronto to Vancouver. Curse my magical speed reading capabilities.
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How To Fly for Dirt Cheap in SE Asia

I am exactly one day away from takeoff!! I’m packed, double-checked and excited to start my journey tomorrow from YYZ.  Before I go I wanted to break down some costs, since this is one of the most frequent questions I’ve been asked in the last few weeks:

What does is all cost?

How much money do you need to make a trip like this?

 

WELL. That’s a good question.  Let’s start 7 or so months ago when I was formulating my trip.  I decided where I wanted to go and what routes to take. After briefly looking into Round the World tickets and travel agents and finding them ridiculously expensive, I set out to create my own budget itinerary and figure this out myself instead of relying on a more expensive travel agent.

  1.  I bought a one way ticket to Jakarta. I know. Not smart or cheap, but it was the kick in the butt I needed to get started planning my trip. IT WAS HAPPENING! ($1200)
  2. I began looking at all the places I might like to travel in SE Asia and pricing them out with AirAsia, the discount airline I chose to book most of my flights with.
  3. Checked with my lovely travel partner to talk dates, flying strategies and places we wanted to see. Bought tickets to Bali, Manilla, Palawan, Boracay)
  4. Then the real fun began.  I knew I had about two months of travel to plan, and no idea what to see. So the cheapest flights won!  Manila to Singapore will cost me $45.00 US ALL IN!
  5. I saved a flight by combining two countries and deciding to travel overland to Malaysia, which happened to be having a huge seat sale to AUSTRALIA! I immediately bought a cheap flight to AUS.
  6. Then – a snag. Flights to NZ weren’t cheap, but I sucked it up and bought the $250 ticket cause I wasn’t going to go see OZ without at least peeking at NZ.
  7. After that I was broke, and metaphorically stranded in NZ for the next three months as I made more $$ and watched the price of my return ticket rise and fall. Then – a week ago, I saw the cheapest price from Christchurch, NZ to Toronto that I had ever seen ($900!) and bought it now that the cash flow was better.

It was a bit of a hit and miss approach, and here is a full disclosure look at how much my flights are costing me in total.

Toronto – Vancouver – Manilla – Jakarta  $1207.00

Jakarta – Bali $ 63.83

Bali – Manila $ 147.00

Manila – Kalibo (Boracay) $ 33.00

Kalibo (Boracay) – Manila $30.17

Manila – Palawan $ 29.23

Palawan – Manila $ 33.86

Clark – Singapore $ 44.60

Kuala Lumpur – Gold Coast (Australia) $ 173.34

Sydney – Auckland $ 261.05

Christchurch – Toronto $ 908.00

Grand Total: $ 2,931.08

Yup!  Eleven flights for just shy of three grand.  Now, AirAsia has not been the easiest airline to book with (one flight has been cancelled outright, one has had the time changed and one had the date changed) but the customer service has been decent via the internet in getting some quick responses to my questions, even via twitter, so props to them for that. I will update after a few flights to see if the amazing prices are worth the travel experience aboard AirAsia.  I took two domestic flights in Thailand last year with them and both went perfectly smoothly, so I’m trusting my own experience with the airline and taking a chance on some cheap flights. Wish me luck!

EXACTLY 24 HOURS BEFORE I BOARD THE PLANE.  I AM VERY EXCITED! ALSO I AM YELLING!

Ask questions, comments, quips or queries below 🙂

xoxoxo

D

Categories: In the Air, Pre-Trip, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Goodbye, Bangkok, Goodbye!!

Ah, Khao san road. My temporary home away from home – and I would be leaving back to Canada so shortly!! I decided to “splurge” on a sexy hotel called D+D right on the strip, the free breakfasts and rooftop pool made for a great oasis amidst the noisy city.  I loved waking up and knowing I had a short time to enjoy this amazing city before heading home, and after a swim and visit with Phil, I made my way around doing some last-minute shopping and exploring before I went home.  I had time to visit a seven eleven (or two, lol) for strange asian candies and treats to amuse my friends back home with.  I also got my last Thai massage and met up with Mr Carter for a beer and a good chat.  My last night, sad to say, I slept and didn’t party, I had a few drinks and took in the sights but to be honest I was anxious to be home again.

My sweet rooftop pool at D + D

My sweet rooftop pool at D + D

The next day I boarded the minibus to get taken to the airport and realized I had forgotten my Dad’s iPod charging in an internet cafe a few blocks down! DOH!! I went the whole trip without losing the damn thing and then I tripped at the finish line. Gah!

I honestly don’t remember much about my flight(s) home except I was totally miserable because of my stuffy sinuses.  There was trouble with ear pressure equalization as a result of this, and some wicked headaches and sniffles for me. The guy beside me might have legit thought I was dying. Well, at least we had the leg room emergency seats.

After a quick and uninspiring stop at the Mumbai Airport, we boarded a new plane bound for Heathrow, where I bought as many cold meds as my credit card could handle and blacked out for the final nine-hour leg of the journey home!! I looked like a straight up hippie after spending two months in SE Asia. I had a perma-tan, my hair was long and unbrushed, i had a about a thousand bracelets on my arm and I was carrying my fire stick, too!  People were looking at me funny, but I was all like “namaste” and they left me alone 😛

It was so nice to see my mom waiting for me at the airport!! She cried, the big baby, and maybe I did too – a little.  Two months had passed so fast, I felt like a whole new person but also like nothing had changed since I left.  Canada seemed so dry and orderly after the chaos of Asia. But still – it’s home and I was glad to be back.

Besides…….I was already scheming and dreaming about my next trip….Muahahahahahah!

Categories: In the Air, Thailand | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

En Route to BKK – Part Two

Ok so we left off at Heathrow, and my flight from London took off in a reasonable time, THAI Airlines was the BEST flight I have ever taken in my life – and it was an 11 hour long haul, so thats saying a lot.  Free booze, hot towels, extra empty seat beside me so i could take a nap (kinda) and a lovely friendly Thai girl beside me, great food (3 meals!!) and an endless array of movies and TV shows. I cant believe Im saying this but I walked off the plane totally refreshed!

As I walked off the plane and into the Bangkok airport, a secret smile crept over my face.  Here I was, totally alone in a place I had never been before, didint know a soul.  I felt compeletely capable, at peace and wondfully…alone.  I have a strong belief that we are our own best comapny, being comfortable in your own solitary presence is sometimes the best company you can have.  I felt that way walking off the plane.  It was amazing.

And then….my bag did not show up in the luggage.  I didn’t panic, i thought something like this migjt happen as I only had an hour to connect to my flight at Heathrow.  I went to the baggage are and they were very sweet, filing a report and saying it would show up on the next plane, to go to my hotel and they would send it to me.

After a quick phone call home to say I was here in one piece, I sought out my guide who was supposed to meet me at the airport…..but there was no sign of them so i trusted my luck and hopped in a cab.  The Thai phrases he kept trying to teach  me probably could have stuck if I hadn’t felt the whole time I was going to puke on account of his awful driving….I arrived feeling sick and disoriented – 8am Thai time, 9pm Toronto time.

I slept for a few hours and finally ended up meeting my guide Nikki who had just missed me at the airport. she informed me i was the first to arrive so i had a few days to explore before everyone else got there. Perfect!

to be continued….

Categories: In the Air, Thailand | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

En Route to BKK – Part One

I am off!  I am also possibly the worlds most organized backpacker…anyone who saw my bag can vouch for that – it is labelled, waterproofed, inventoried and zipppered up.  Hopefully my bag doesnt get lost in transit and squelch all my hard work.

When I got to YYZ, things looked good.  After a teary goodbye to mom + dad, I got though security and met some fellow backpackers travelling to Frankfurt….annnnd one of them knows my sister. Small world!

This is where things got rough. Flight was packed, there was a fat grumpy woman beside me who seemed personally offended by my presence in the chair beside her (even though I let her have the armrest) AND we sat on the tarmac for THREE HOURS effectively pissing off everyone in on the plane.  I knew right away i had missed my connecting flight and was super stressed about it.

Long story short, flight ended up being ok and i got a better upgraded flight in Heathrow (a direct connection to BKK instead of another stopover)

Im off on the second leg of my flight!  and HEATHROW: i will be back to sample your luxury goods…someday… 😉

xo

D

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