Posts Tagged With: Bangkok

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

Bali, Beachtravellers Style!

  What an amazing two days its been here! I feel like I’ve been here way longer than two days.  Our first day here started with an exploratory walk around our area, trying to get our bearings and get used to Kuta. After another delicious Starbucks (sorryyyyy we are easing into the whole Indo thing, at least we didn’t have Wendy’s!)  there was a very interesting tourist trap experience on Kuta beach.  We were given these punch cards by some friendly guys and after we opened them we were told we WON!! MONEY!! All we had to do to collect it was go check out a hotel and get a tour.  Ok. It sounded fishy but hey the hotel was in the nice southern area of Nusa Dua and we had just gotten there, so the free taxi ride sounded appealing and we wanted to look around Bali.  Then, when we got there after a shortish drive, we checked out the hotel and were told unfortunately there was no one to show us around just then.  So a 15 minute ride, 10 minute look around the hotel and crappy discount voucher “prize” was the worst that happened. Woo! Free taxi rides!!

Our next stop was to meet up with some girlfriends who had been with us on our Beachtravellers Thailand trip and had just finished the BT Bali tour and we were eager to hear how their trip was. We had lunch and caught up and saw their hostel, and awesomely enough, some more guides and friends who we knew from Thailand last year!! BT reunion!!  We all went to 66 beach in Seminyak together, and I did what I loved best – got on the back of a friends scooter and scooted through Kuta! It made me a happy girl, and I was even happier when I saw the beautiful beach with beanbag chairs and colorful umbrellas scattered around. We settled in for some good beers, pizza and catchup chats, and I got to know some more cool BT people, the Bali guide crew who are obv just as phenomenal as their Thailand counterparts.
We ate sate’s at a tiny Indonesian restaurant and partied the night away in Kuta. I finally got to try the fabled Extra Joss, an Indonesian powdered energy drink that foams up in your mouth – and gives you a killer buzz!  There also may have been 20 shots for 100,000 rupiah, about ten bucks. and then another round. And then? dancing at Skybar, a complex which has nine separate bars on four levels, basically a playland for the young, drunk and stupid. It was no fun at all 😉
Needless to say, it was a stumbly walk home. Hehe.
Categories: Indonesia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

What to Pack When Travelling Around the World

What a busy month! I’ve been trying to cram it all in – work, seeing friends and family, and all those thousand little trip prep things that need to get done before I get on the road and head out to Bali, Indonesia, the first stop on my travels.  The most important part of my pre-trip prepping is my BRAND NEW Mountain Equipment Co-op fancy 70L backpack.  Yes – it’s big, but since I will be gone for close to four months, I need something that’s gonna hold all my crap!

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Oooo Aaaaah. Note the cool zipper front that allows you to see everything in your bag.  I had too many frantic packing moments last year to not invest in a good backpack of my own.  I also beat the S**T out of my last bag, so it was time for a new one!

I started packing with a jumble of stuff on the floor two months ago.  Yes. Two months.  I was excited!! I began with the things that served me well last year.

  • Compressible pillow for long bus rides (MEC $20.00)
  • Silk sleep sheet for comfort in grody SE Asia beds and questionable hostel sheets. (SAIL $30.00, don’t buy the cotton ones!! They are too heavy for equator climate!)
  • Sarongs from Thailand which tripled as towels, beach blankets and scarves (get them overseas)
  • Jean shorts. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. DONT buy these overseas, you will live in them)
  • Laundry sheets for washing bras/underwear/anything
  • Face wipes for sweaty refreshment
  • Toilet paper. There is none in Asia. haha. you think im joking.

After doing this I emptied my closets and made some “maybe” piles with clothes that I wouldn’t mind losing if they did get stolen/lost/wrecked. Then the ruthless sorting began.

Ask Yourself:  

What can I absolutely not live without?  

What are my basic essentials?

Packing Pile

My Top Ten Packing Tips

  1. Don’t buy anything until you are sure you need it – try to use what you have already.
  2. Don’t bring a towel – it will get gross and dirty. Bring a little packtowel instead, one that dries fast.
  3. Bring comfortable underwear. Seriously. That lace thong that looked so cute in the mirror at home will not be pretty on a Bangkok day trip.
  4. Bring money. Lots of money. Also ways to store that money on your person without looking like a stupid tourist. That $50 you tuck into your bra or sock may just save your life.
  5. Bring all the meds you are used to taking ( Pepto, Immodium, Benadryl, Nyquil, Gravol, Advil, Aleve, Aerius) cause the stuff sold in drugstores may look the same but be formulated very differently in other countries.
  6. Go to the travel doctor and get your shots, heavy-duty motion sickness pills, and gross but potent bug spray.
  7. In your carry-on, pack a set of clothes, bikini, and wash up stuff, enough to last you 4 or 5 days without your big bag.  My bag was delayed last year, and I would have been screwed without prepping this stuff and bringing it with me in my hand luggage.
  8. Keep your technology safe, dry and separate. Secure tangly wires with velcro ties and make note of all plugs, adaptors and chargers that you need while travelling.
  9. Dont bring any heavy stuff. Leave your books/guidebooks/CD’s/Weights/Whatever at home. You. Wont. Need. It
  10. Unpack when you have packed everything for the first time and take out two shirts, a pair of bottoms, and anything else you were undecided about. You. wont. need. it. Unpack your damn jeans too. Thats right. Let go of the jeans.
  11. Dont forget your phone charger, pajamas and underwear!!

Ok that was eleven. Oh well. Happy Packing!  If you have any questions, comments, quips or queries, please leave me a message below 🙂

Also, if you are curious, ask me for my itemized and categorized packing list and I will share it with you. It is extremely nerdy.  I don’t care! I love organizing!

 

xoxo

D

Categories: Pre-Trip | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Part Two – Ten Things I Learned While Travelling in SE Asia

This is Part Two of my post about what I learned while travelling solo through SE Asia last summer 🙂 See Part One here

5) Trust Your Gut

This tip is CRUCIAL.  If your instinct is telling you one thing (don’t go down that alley/with that weird guy/don’t take a bucket from a stranger), DONT DO IT!!  Train your intuition to take you down the right path, but also remember that things are very different in SE Asia and what’s thought of as dangerous in North America is often not regarded the same way over there.  I remember this gross scary alley in Bangkok that led on a shortcut to our hostel.  The tour guides were the first to take us down there and we all thought “what the hell?!”.  But then we saw families treating the alley as their back yard, working and watching TV as their many pets caused a ruckus.  Sure, it smelled bad and there was junk everywhere, but that’s just the way it was in BKK – don’t have a backyard? grab an alleyway!  By the end of my trip I was walking down this same alley at three am, laughing at my new friends as they cowered at the thought of plunging into the dark.  If you are unsure – ask someone, because trusting your gut can go a long way – with the right guidance of course!!

Trust Your Gut

4) Let the Party Take You

Lets face it.  I partied HARD while I was overseas.  Harder than I ever have in my life, especially on the Beach Travellers wing of the trip, because I was surrounded by 27 of the most fun and fearless Canadians I have had the privilege of meeting!! Every night there was a new activity, theme party, or massive beach bash that you would simply HAVE to go to, no matter how much sun you got that day or what viewpoint hike you did.

The parties in Thailand and Cambodia absolutely blew my mind, especially the Full Moon Party, which I conquered twice!! For more info about the Full Moon, click here.  I learned a lot about myself through these party experiences, if you can believe it!  I learned I am a party rock star who knows how to manage my alcohol intake so I can stay up all night and often be the last woman standing!  Of course I had some rather rough mornings and I didn’t escape a puke or two but overall, it was worth it to party so hard because A) when the heck am I going to have the opportunity to rock out so hard in my life?? and B) I might as well get all this partying out of my system while I’m young enough to experience it properly!!

Moral of the story? Party HARD, but Party safe, know your limit and don’t accept drinks/rides/pills/buckets from strangers.

Party Herrrrrd

3) Friends are Family on the Road

When you travel, you are constantly meeting new people who seem friendlier and more interested in you than the people back home in boring, uptight North America.  This is because the BEST, friendliest and most worldly people know that travel is the ultimate learning experience, and go out of their way to meet new friends on the road.  It was harder to meet new friends while I was in my big group at the beginning of my trip, but as the months went by I learned how to strike up random conversations on buses and hostels to find new interesting people from all over the world.  Experiences can cement friendships too, like on Chelsea and I’s adventure on the Ko Tao night boat: we had to spoon with two lovely NZ girls on the way over cause there was no space, and they ended up being our fabulously fun travel companions for the next week!!

Bottom Line: Make it a point to meet new people while on the road, don’t just stick to your group of friends.  Make new ones from all over the world!!

Real Friends Party Naked

2) Embrace Your Inner Hippie

Go where the wind blows you. Throw away your shoes and wear a long skirt.  Grow your hair long and  forget about plucking your eyebrows. Learn to spin fire, like I did, or learn to surf, scuba or befriend a monkey for an afternoon.  Just let that North American uptight Type-A self slip away.  He or she will be back once you step off that plane and back to reality, trust me.  But there is something invaluable about embracing another way of life, something slower that is focused on personal growth and freedom. I found this amazing blissed out beach bum inside of me who finally was just going with the flow instead of planning every minute of every day.  Finding this side of myself was a crucial step of discovering who I am, and now I listen to my hippie self when she needs a day at the beach or a day in the park practicing spinning.  The lesson here is finding balance between the two selves and making sure both are being served in your lifestyle at home! 

Inner Hippies Chillin

1) It’s the Journey, not the Destination

As I traveled from one place to another, I found myself filled with anxiety again and again.  Will my train be on time? will we catch the ferry?  What If I don’t like the food they serve?

Those worries became less and less loud as I learned to treasure every crazy bus ride, bumpy boat trip and determined local who tried to sell me their wares. These detours and roadblocks became the best stories, the most memorable moments that I look back on and laugh.  Sure. my trip went well, I didn’t get mugged or kidnapped or hassled (too much), but there were definitely tough spots where I wished I had more control over the situation.  Every moment of my trip was important, even the times when I waited at the train station for hours or missed the boat to Ko Lipe and had to spend the night in Pak Bara.  If the journey is stressing you out, just stop, take a breath and marvel that you are halfway around the world, seeing sights that most people only dream of, and that you are lucky enough to have some cash in your pocket and clothes on your back, too. Wow!

Or just have a mini tantrum and work it out, I had to step away and do that more than once 😉

Embrace the Journey

Well, that concludes my writing about my 2012 trip (only a few months late, lol!)

But you lucky people get to come with me on YET ANOTHER JOURNEY!! BIGGER, BETTER, LONGER!!

Last year was my fearless adventure, this year get ready for “Work Hard, Play Harder 2013 SE Asia/Oceania Trip!!!”

More tomorrow on that 🙂

xo

Categories: Cambodia, Thailand | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Ten Things I Learned While Travelling in SE Asia – Part One

Now that I’m back from my trip and planning to take the leap again and do a big solo trip this year again, I wanted to reflect on how my trip changed my life and what the benefits are of throwing caution to the wind, letting your hair grow long and experiencing the world.

10. We are all the same

I met so many fantastic people when I was on the road: my Thai friends, my new Canadian friends, and all the other international travellers I had the pleasure of getting to know on the road.  They all had some things in common, though.  All of us just want a few simple things: to have the love of others, to find a place that feels like home, to be in the midst of community and camaraderie, and to care for our families in peace and safety.  As I conversed with all these new people, I was struck by how similar our wants and needs are, and that made me think about how often our surface differences get in the way of really understanding each other.

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9. Real Confidence is Earned

When I stepped off the plane in Bangkok at the beginning of my journey, I was – scared. It was fun and refreshing and exciting, but also I was totally nervous about being on my own in a new country without anyone else to rely on.  As the trip went on and I learned the ropes of backpacking in a foreign country, I learned to love that scared feeling every time I went somewhere new. It became exciting to come to a new place and find my bearings, find a place to stay and a few friends to share stories with.  Every crazy new adventure made me even more brave, and as I scuba dove, jumped off cliffs, killed cockroaches and spun fire, all the apprehension I had in my normal life slipped away.  I came back with something truly priceless – a deep and lasting confidence in myself that I am capable of a lot more than I think I am.

Me spinning fire in Railay

8. Culture is an Experience

When I was taking Cultural Studies at school, it was all theories and book learning, discussing this or that dead white guy and what he thought about culture.  This is total crap compared to what you can learn about culture by immersing yourself in a completely new reality.  I had huge culture shock in Thailand, and again in Cambodia, then an EVEN BIGGER culture shock when I came back to Canada with a new perspective of how people live their lives in other places.  I loved the blending of old and new, of ancient traditions that we are missing in Canada and the hurdles I would sometimes have to cross when learning about a new country’s rules and customs.  I remember losing it on a ferryboat ticket guy because the boat had left early one day, and all the Thai  people recoiled in shock as I yelled (give me a break I’d been travelling for about twelve hours at that point!).  In Thailand, outward displays of anger are almost unheard of, and if you lose your temper you “lose face” and respect.  I learned that lesson the hard way.

My advice – if you want to get cultured, go eat a cricket off a bug cart in Khao San road then wash it down with a big mac at the Mcdonalds on the same street.  Culture in our globalized world is a crazy mind bending mashup, and experiencing it firsthand is truly priceless.

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7. Pack LIGHT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD

Pack light. I mean it!  I was constantly re-evaluating my load of stuff, looking for ways to cut down on what I was carrying to make room for more interesting things I picked up along the way.  Most of the clothes I brought  were useless in the tropical climate and the clothes are so dirt cheap in Asia, you are better off just bringing more money and buying some sweet Thai fisherman pants to live in.  Also, if it’s a vacation then most of your time will be spent in a bikini/swim shorts and a sarong, so don’t worry too much about what else to bring.  You will look like a dirty hippie tourist no matter what you bring, cause in a few days it will all be dusty and dirty from travelling anyhoo.

Anything you put in your pack you will have to haul around on your back for the next few months so be very wise and very ruthless while packing.  Dont take any stuff that is your absolute favorite item of clothing, because it could very easily get lost/stolen/left on a train

Some things I couldn’t live without: my silk sleep sheet (a cocoon of safety from questionable sheets), my jean shorts (buy them in Canada cause Asians have teeny hips), my travel towel (saved me from grody towels all over Asia) and my sexy hiking sandals made trekking a dream.  Spend money on these items and don’t bring your damn hairdryer!

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6. Bring Money. More than you think you need.

Back half the stuff, bring twice the money. This is a good rule of thumb I will use while travelling from this point on.  Often activities and extra outings cost an additional amount, beyond what you are expecting to spend for the day.  Theses types of trips will MAKE your journey, so save $$ to take a long tail down the River Kwai, to spend three days exploring Angkor Wat, or to go on a major end-of-trip shopping spree.  There were days when I would have to budget wisely to be able to make these things happen, so make sure to keep in mind that although Asia is cheap, there are things that wont be.  Food and accommodations can often be very cheap, so don’t be afraid to hunt around for a bit for the best deal or to eat lunch from a street cart.

Tip: if you are going to eat street food, look for the busiest cart as the ingredients are more likely to be fresh and the locals know best!!

Best Street Food EVER

5. Haggle, Haggle, Haggle

I love bartering.  I am damn good at it.  Often my friends would want to take me shopping because my training as an actor allows me to give the shopkeepers the performance they want.  The locals are used to bartering with their neighbors, it’s just the way of the world over there, and they are also used to fleecing tourists for goods at three times the price of the actual cost.  The trick to bartering is not losing your cool, and not caring that much about the item (unless you reeeeeeeallllly want it, in that case act like you care even less).  Ask how much an item is, offer them half the quoted price, then meet them somewhere in the middle. It’s a game!  Make it fun, joke with them and make them feel comfortable with you.  Offer to buy other items, or to do a combo deal with your friends who are buying items.  If you don’t get the price you want, just walk away.  They will call u back and say “ok” or you can walk down to the next shop and probably find the same item and try your luck again.  See?  It’s much more fun to haggle than to buy things in Canada at full price!!

How Much? Too much!!

Last Minute Shopping

Tomorrow, the top 5 things I learned while travelling solo in SE Asia!

Categories: Cambodia, Thailand | 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!

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Bus from Hell to BKK

Customs

The last bus ride of my journey was also one of the most memorable!  As in – it was a fresh hell.

Agh!  The first part of the ride was nothing new – uneven roads and potholes that took up half

the bumpy highway.  I was used to the roads, and luckily I met up with some Sihanoukville

friends on the bus, who made the trip much more bearable.

As we neared the border, the trip got worse.  The usual scam artists were hanging out by the

customs office, ready to accept bribes in the form of “fees” to skip the line, but it was silly since

everyone eventually got through the line and to the other side.

BorderCrossing

Once we walked across the bridge and were back in Thailand, it seemed as though our bus operators had abandoned us in this border town.  We waited several hours in the sweltering heat for anther bus to show up, and when it did there was only room for about half of the people, and I wasn’t part of the lucky group that got to cram into the minibus.  We waited for what felt like another hour or so, half the remaining people chartered their own bus back to Bangkok, as it seemed like we weren’t ever going to leave the border town.

FINALLY the bus showed up after what seemed like an eternity and we all squished in with our luggage to this tiny van, and I thought we would make short work of the trip to BKK.

No.

After about three hours we had to transfer yet AGAIN to a new minibus, with an even surlier driver with a death wish.  I saw the name of the City and looked it up on my map – we still had three or four more hours to go until we reached our destination!  It was nearing dark and we had been on the road since 7am, so you can imagine how anxious I was to get there.

We all piled in again and I was lucky enough to sit beside my cute friend Phil who produced a splitter for his iPod with two sets of headphones, and the final leg of the trip sharing music and giggling while crammed together in the cargo hold with my new friend.

We arrived in BKK where we were unceremoniously dropped onto a street, which thankfully I recognized as nearby to Khao San Road.  I navigated our group to the road where we said some teary goodbyes and took off into the night.  There were still two more nights in Bangkok to enjoy!!

 khao-San-Road

And that is how I ended my journey to Cambodia and started to say goodbye after nearly two months travelling in SE Asia.

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Epic Travel to BKK and Goodbye Chelsea!

The 5 am ferry seemed like a dream – none of us had slept and we were all feeling sad to be leaving Ko Pha-ngan and Bottle Beach.  All four of us missed the epic sunrise and woke up with the Pier in sight and the sun blazing overhead.  One of the hardest goodbyes was next – Chelsea and I said goodbye to our friend Park who lives in Railay and our friend Carter who is a tour guide and country manager for Beach Travellers and also one of the coolest people I met on my travels and someone who helped to make our trip as amazing as it possibly could have been.  Chels and I just looked at each other, waiting together in the train station so early in the morning, and burst into tears.  I’m not sure whether it was a combination of sadness, being so tired, and sleep deprived, but we were super emotional that whole day.  Our last full day together as platonic wives and we would be spending it on a fifteen hour train journey to Bangkok together.  Euchh.

The train journey was something new – we had both done this journey before, but overnight both times.  It was a completely different experience during the day.  The country rolled by our window – verdant, lush and never-changing green.  We reminisced over our experiences together, laughing, crying and comparing stories.  That ride was one of the longest I took while travelling – all I can say is thank Buddha for air-conditioning!

We finally noticed the scenery start to change about two hours outside of Bangkok and veryyyy slowllyyy made our way into the heart of the city for one last tuk-tuk ride to Khao San Road, our home away from home.  I found a very cheap and clean room for the night at the 7-Holder Guest House and we shopped for  bit until I felt like I was going to pass out from exhaustion.

We had our tearful goodbye that night when Chelsea went to the airport. When I started my journey alone a month and a half before, I had never dreamed I would meet so many fantastic and interesting people on my journey, and I couldn’t have asked for a better travel buddy than the one Chels ended up being to me.  It seemed at every turn we were on the same page with what we waned to do, see and experience on our trip.  She was incredibly easy-going and fun, easy to get along with and full of life.  Our adventurous spirits we definitely matched – and now I not only have all of these incredible memories but a new friend for life!  Needless to say, our goodbyes were pretty emotional – silly girls! We are already making plans for our next adventure – we shouldn’t have been so sad!

I spent a strange night in BKK that evening alone. But I wouldn’t have to worry, I would be meeting new friends soon on my trip from BKK to Siem Reap in Cambodia!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Three Nights in Bangkok

Leaving Railay was sad because I loved it there so much, and also didn’t want to put my shoes back on and face another night train. I actually slept 12 of the 14 hours it took us to get back, but it wasn’t too bad in the end. We got to stay at our old guesthouse, too, which made it feel like more of a homecoming instead of a goodbye. We had a lot of stuff to do, though, before the end of our trip! First up was bowling and karaoke together (hilarious video to follow), and a super yum group lunch where I tried some new food, and cabbed it back to our place to get ready for what would be an epic night on Khao San road.

So epic, in fact, that I missed the temple tour the next day ;-( but I did make it out for the weekend market and a full day (literally a whole day) of shopping, I must have spent about 3000 baht, which seems like a lot but is actually about 100 dollars CAD.

On our last day we gathered for a group dinner on top of one of the tallest buildings in Bangkok. We had sushi, salad and all kinds of other Western food we had been missing on our trip. We took a bunch of great group pics and enjoyed our last full night together! Of course, Khao San road was just as fun as the previous night, but bittersweet cause we knew it would be our last night to party together 😦

I feel really blessed to have ended up with such a great group of people on my tour, we were all such good friends by the end of our time together, and I definitely made new friendships that will last me a lifetime 🙂 I was also so happy to have found some adventurous girls who were ready to head out with me on the next part of our journey. We gathered together for final speeches and goodbyes on our last night, and reminisced about our awesome trip and got to thank our amazing guides Jon and Nikki for taking us seamlessly through such an incredible trip!!

But of course for me the fun was only beginning! Our last day in Bangkok, I set out with a lady friend to walk and get lost and possibly find the Grand Palace, which we eventually did, after finding a university graduation and a museum (which was closed,boo) The Palace was, of course, unbelievable, so glad I got to fit it in, it was a spot not to be missed, you could feel in the air how important and sacred a space it was. We got slightly lost on our way back (fun!) and met these two adorable German girls who asked us about where they should stay. We took them under our wing, got them un-lost and even got them all the way back to our decent guesthouse so they could check it out. We ended up eating with them later at an Indian Restaurant with my friend Chris, an Aussie who I had met recently in Toronto (small world!) Who just so happened to be in Bangkok at the same time as me. That night the five of us tore up Khao San one last time, and the rest of our friends left either for home or other exotic destinations. It was time for my “solo” adventure to begin!

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