Posts Tagged With: how-to

Mmmm, Melaka! – Foodie Paradise

I love Malaysia!! ¬†It is extremely awesome here – I was not expecting such a clean, well-organized and developed country. I think im going to really like it here. ¬†In between my first stop in Malaysia and the rest of my travels in this country, I’m going to check out Singapore, as well. ¬†But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

I got off the plane at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal, thank goodness I did some internet research as my lonely planet is two years out of date, and was totally directing me to the wrong bus station ūüė¶ i caught wind of this before making this tragic mistake, and got on a sexy bus that cost me 8 ringgit ($2.50 CAD) for an hour and a half bus ride to the new, beautiful bus station. ¬†All the buses ran on time, left on time, were clean and air-conditioned and in great shape!! OH MY GOD ITS A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE. ¬†iT ACTUALLY IS. This type of service is pretty much unheard of in any other asian country I’ve been to, so needless to say I am already impressed.
My bus to Melaka was easy to find, super cheap (9 ringgits, or 3 dollars for a two-hour bus ride) and right on time. ¬†I stared out at the suburbs of Kuala Lumpur from my bus window. it looked so orderly! No signs of poverty, no roadside shacks, just cheery looking row houses and palm plantations. ¬†Woah. ¬†Minus the palm trees, you could be in any developed country in the world and not know the difference. ¬†The highways are also well maintained and well-marked. ¬†If you know me personally, you will understand why I’m pointing this out, I have an organization fetish and this country’s got it going ON!! lol.
We got to Melaka in record time, and my cab from the bus station cost 20 confusing ringgits, I didn’t understand how I could have travelled for over three hours for less than twenty ringgits, and then my five-minute cab ride cost me just as much as that. HMMM. I got to my hostel, Ringos Foyer Guesthouse, and while it’s not much to look at, it was pretty comfortable and I met a bunch of interesting people there so points for that, even though it wasn’t the prettiest place I’ve stayed. ¬†I was super tired from getting up at 4am, but decided to go for a little walk and check out the very charming town and grab some Nonya Laksa, a yummy curry soup that is a local specialty. ¬†The cats found me, as they always do, and I shared some of the seafood in my soup with them. ¬†I can’t help it!! I love kitties!! I walked around a bit more and oriented myself, and crashed hard that evening after chatting with some fellow travellers in the homey common area of my guesthouse.
xo
D
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Categories: Malaysia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My Solo Journey Begins

It’s day three of my solo adventure and things are going great! ¬†I found a much more awesome guesthouse called Banwa Art House and settled in there for three more nights. ¬†I thought about going to El Nido, but its a seven hour bus journey there and I leave again from Puerto Princesa for Manila – so a fourteen hour round trip just doesn’t sound worth it to me for one night in El Nido. Damn. ¬†I decided to make the best of my time here, and the owner of my hostel has been so helpful and lovely in sorting everything out for me! What a nice change from the previous guesthouse I was at! ¬†The owner lives most of her time in Ireland and has two very sweet daughters who are spending their summer here with her, the hostel is filled with other lovely travelers and I feel right at home, even though there is no aircon in the room and a few neighborly mosquitoes, gotta take the good with the bad I guess!

My first solo day was pretty uneventful as I settled into my new place and took a looooong walk around the little city, which is slowly growing on me. Slowly.  I caught up on my world news and chatted with friends from home that evening, hitting the hay early because i had a scooter rented for the next day and was excited for my journey!
I woke up the next morning and packed up my stuff, getting ready to scoot off on an adventure to find Emerald Beach. ¬†I got directions from my lovely hostel owner and drove off down the streets of Puerto Princesa, loving every minute of my drive and finding the beach no problem after about twenty minutes on the road. ¬†It was awesome!! Even though I was parked in front of a hotel, NOBODY was around save for the hotel staff, and I had the beach/pool to myself for pretty much the whole day. ¬†I sunned myself and ate a lovely lunch by the pool, my friend Laura from the hostel showed up about halfway through my day and we chatted about backpack life. ¬†I went to leave in the late afternoon and realized – uh oh, I had somehow lost the key to my scooter!! Yikes ūüė¶
I pretty much had every maintenance guy, security officer and tourist police guy looking for that damn key, and finally one of them triumphantly pulled it out of the sand!! WHEW! I was so relieved that I didn’t have to pay a major fee for losing the key!! I scooted back to my hostel after that without any other bad things happening, and spent the evening relaxing, playing a very interesting game of chess with a five-year old and chatting with the other travellers in the place.
Today has been a quiet, relaxed, blogging kinda day, ive been to two coffee shops so far and have been typing away, trying to record the events of the past week (feels like so much longer!) and staying out of the rain. ¬†Tomorrow I finally leave Puerto Princesa and move on to Manila and Malaysia awaits! ¬†I’m sure there will be lots of new adventures waiting for me there ūüôā
xo
D

 

Categories: Phillipines | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.
Categories: In the Air | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Surfing in Kuta

Even though this was only about a week ago, it seems like AGES! ¬†So much has happened, Im already in another country and in the midst of new adventures, but lets pretend I’ve been faithfully blogging all along, shall we? ūüôā

We bussed it back to Kuta from Ubud in Bali, and found our beautiful hotel, AP Inn, was under construction – hmmmm. Oh well. we decided to stay anyways. After a long, hot bus journey a trip to the pool was in order and we settled into our rooftop pool chill quite nicely, I even bought a “takeout” lunch from a local warung (food stall) and had a delicious lunch by the pool. ¬†For dinner we had Pizza Hut, and I had a new experience there – corn on my pizza. ¬†Yuck. Lol.
The next day was pretty lazy as well, with some more poolside action and a visit to the Bali Dynasty resort to hang out with our friends the Thompsons, who were in Kuta and invited us to their gorgeous resort for some volleyball and happy hour drinks!  We had a wonderful afternoon with them and invited them to come and party with us at Skygarden that night.  The younger ones took us up on the offer and we met up with them for FREE DRINKS.  I may have had one (twelve) too many cause the next day I had my first official Bali hangover. ughhhhhh. Oh and guess what we had planned? Surfing! Ughnghghgghhhhh.
Luckily our surfer dude was way late and I had time to nap all morning, so by the time we finally hit the waves I was feeling much much better! Our instructor Ewan was a great teacher, and we both managed to get up on our boards and hit the waves, it was thrilling!  I can officially say I am a surfer now Рlol.
The next day Chelsea and I shopped and shopped and shopped until we were literally out of Indonesian Rupiah, we had waited until our last day to clean out our $$ supply and all the shops, too! ¬†I bought a gorgeous dress for myself and a bunch of presents as well. ¬†We boarded our flight to Manila, it was a super long, roundabout trip. But hey – it’s all part of the experience, right??
xoxo
D
Categories: Indonesia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How We Saved a Kitten in Ubud

Well, saved might now be the right word because Phil might very well have been euthanized by now, but I do feel better having rescued a kitten from sudden death on a busy alley road in Ubud. It was just about squished as Chelsea and I walked back to our guesthouse, and Chelsea said to me “isn’t that a kitten?” and we squee!ed at the littleness of it! Poor little guy had no¬†momma¬†in sight. ¬†I moved him over to the side of the road, but he looked so pathetic that soon after we returned to our place, I said I gotta do something, so I went and bought some milk from the local quickeemart and scooped up the kitten on my way back. ¬†As we chilled that night, Phil showed little to no signs of life, just chillin in my sarong like a lil villain. Yes, we named him Phil. ¬†Big Phil was hanging out with us as we greeted our friends from Beach¬†Travellers, who were in Ubud at the same time as us, and settled in for a rainy quiet night.
I found a place that might look after Phil by doing a little internet sleuthing, and facebook messaged Villa Kitty to see if they might have a place for Phil. The owner of this magical place, an expat named Elizabeth, said to bring him in, so the next morning we took a ten minute taxi ride to Villa Kitty, a cat hospital and kitty rescue clinic in Ubud, a sorely needed service in a country where wild dogs and cats are the norm and keeping pets as members of your household is not as popular. ¬†When we got to the clinic, the vet told us Phil was ten days old, not three to four weeks as we originally had thought. I talked to Elizabeth on the phone, and she said that they may not be able to keep Phil alive as he couldn’t be given the attention he needed, given his early age. he needed to be bottle fed every two hours, and she just didn’t have the staff or resources to give him that attention. ¬†I felt so bad, but leaving him there in the hospital staff’s capable hands was the best option at that point. ¬†I said bye to Phil and told him not to throw up his food so they would keep him alive. I hope he listens! ¬†I also gave a donation to this fabulous organization, it really fills a gap in whats needed in Bali in terms of animal welfare.
If you would like to learn more about Villa Kitty or donate to them, you can check out their facebook page here as well ūüôā
Well, my karma meter is full at least. Poor Phil, Hope he had a good ten days, in any case!
Categories: Indonesia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Top 5 Favorite Things to do in Ubud

Ubud has been a blast, there are tons¬†of things to do in this quiet, ancient city. ¬†It is an extremely old and spiritual place, the old mixes with the new in such a strange and interesting way. ¬†I’ll break down some of my favorite things that I¬†experienced¬†here in Ubud, to give you a taste of my experiences here in this gorgeous place!

5. Shop

¬† ¬† ¬†The first thing we noticed upon arrival in Ubud were the SHOPS! Oh my lord it seemed like everything on earth was for sale. ¬†Aside from the usual trinkets, there were tons of textiles (silk scarves, pashminas, dresses, sarongs), interesting artwork, organic bath products, silver jewelry, and more. ¬†I had to seriously restrain myself cause I was on a budget, but I managed to get some good deals and even some presents that I now have to haul around for three months!! Oh well. ¬†I couldn’t resist and you shouldn’t either. ¬†Bargain hard here, there are lots of great deals in Ubud if you barter for them.
4. Spa Day!
     There are so many options for spas here in Ubud it literally makes ones head spin.  From the high-end daylong treatments that include cleansing, detox, colonics, facials and fruit juice baths, to the massages and manicures at the lower end places, there are enough spas here to go to one spa a day for two months and still not hit them all.  I got an hour-long head, back and shoulder massage for about 8 dollars, 75000 Rupiah, and it was unreal. The Balinese lady who massaged me was so tiny with the strongest hands, she gave me a good tough massage, just how I like it!  Aaaahhh.
I dont have any spa pics so I'll just post this pic of chelsea enjoying her pizza on the first night :D

I dont have any spa pics so I’ll just post this pic of chelsea enjoying her pizza on the first night ūüėÄ

3. Take in the Culture – check out all the ancient buildings and go on a photo tour
¬†¬†¬† ¬†As I mentioned earlier, Ubud is the cultural capital of Bali, and it’s not hard to see why. ¬†Buildings from the eleventh century mingle with corner stores and supermarkets, scooters ride by with Balinese dancers in traditional dress scooting by to their performances, and beautiful art is displayed both in corners of markets and huge galleries as well. ¬†I walked around in awe, snapping pics and reading about the history of this magical city, taking it all in. ¬†The pictures don’t really do this place justice, but I will post them anyway.
 
2. Bike through the Rice Paddies
¬† ¬† ¬†This bike trip was a total highlight. We were short on cash and didn’t want to pay for a full day tour around Ubud, so we rented bikes for a day for 3 bucks (30,000 Rupiah) and took off on a little adventure of our own. ¬†We had asked at the tourist centre (which looks like a castle) where the best places to see some country side were, and they made a little itinerary for us. ¬†We biked up a hilly plain, passing villages on the way, and even though it rained a bit in between sunny breaks, the rain was refreshing and fitting as we saw the beautiful rice paddies laid out neatly in the villages. ¬†People are so friendly in Bali! ¬†They called out hello from their doorsteps and driveways, asking us where we were going and what we wanted to see, or just shouted a friendly greeting and went about their day. ¬†Awesome! ¬†The whole trip took about two hours and there was lots of time to chill at our beautiful guesthouse pool later on in the day.
¬† ¬†¬†¬†My favourite place in Ubud, hands down, was the monkey temple forest just on the outskirts of Ubud. ¬†It’s a functioning temple that has been in use since the 11th century, dedicated to the animal gods and to harmony with nature and all living things. ¬†Inside it’s an oasis, the soaring trees and greenery mixing with the ancient statues and temples, with monkeys causing havoc all over the grounds as they played, ate bananas, groomed each other, and generally delighted the tourists with their antics. ¬†They are so humanlike! ¬†One greedy little monkey jerk took all my bananas, but then sat very close to me and I watched as he expertly unwrapped and ate every banana in the bunch, guarding his hoard against the other sneaky guys who were watching and waiting for a chance to steal them. ¬†It was a great way to spend an afternoon, just chilling with these amazing animals and taking in the beauty of the forest and the temple. ¬†I loved it!
These are only my top five experiences, there is so much more to do in Ubud, including yoga, cleanses, detoxing, day trips, volunteering opportunities, watching dances + performances, and much more. I may have to come back here when im older and wiser, with a lot more money in my pockets, cause this is definitely a place to experience twice in a lifetime!
xo
D
Categories: Indonesia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Have a Perfect Day on the Gili Islands

Beach Life

Since all of our days have fallen into a rhythm here on the island, I thought I would write a brief instructional guide about how I live the island life.  It was great to take advantage of the perfect beachy days and explore what the island had to offer over our four nights here in the Gilis.

Side Note: Gili is the indonesian word for island, so pretty much every small island in indo is a Gili, but these Gili Meno, Gili Air and Gili Trawangan are three of the most well known.  If you want to go to the silent disco on your trip, go during Ramadan which starts in early July.
Step One:  Eat a delicious banana pancake and oj on the porch of your guesthouse after waking up whenever the heck you want and checking the wifi news from home.  Chat with the local owners of your guesthouse and teach them funny things to say to other english speaking tourists, like YOLO, LOL, etc.
 
Step Two: Head directly to the beach to sip iced ginger lemon honey teas and pass out on giant bean bag beach chairs at Gili Cafe. Listen to tunes, read, swim, frolic and tan until the midday heat is so unbearable that you seek cover for a) ice cream b)shopping or c) snorkelling. Your choice ūüôā
 
Step Three: Find a sweet beach cafe right on the water to eat lunch.  Eat a delicious BLT, Tuna or Club sammy and people watch as humans from all over the world do exactly the same thing as you: Nothing.  Optional card game playing here, too.  
 
Step Four: Rent bikes for five bucks and bike around the island, checking out the sights (not much besides beautiful beach, resorts and ocean but still pretty sweet).  You can check out the whole ispand in a day, about an hours fast biking or a lazy afternoons worth of biking.  Take pics of sweet beach spots, cool cafes and have a delicious pineapple (watermelon, papaya, coconut) shake to quench your sweaty self.  Squee at the cute goats and Indonesian kids hanging out and take tons of pics.  
 
Step Five: Head home to shower up, and bike to the sunset spot to watch a sweet sunset while drinking Bintangs (beers), or grab a spot at the indian restaurant on some cushions by the beach and hit the shisha/have indian food while watching the rain roll in.

 

Step Six: will hopefully be optional for you as one night we got rained out while dinner happened and we had to walk home in a monsoon. Whoops!
 
Step Seven: Eat ice cream and waffles (does not apply if you took option A on step two, ya fatty) at a local cafe or have some bintangs and watch live music at any of the bars that slowly fill up with people, the crowd gets good at one or two places around eleven.
 
Step Eight: If you are feelin it, head over to the silent disco to listen to tunes in your wireless  headphones, dance up a storm and laugh as you all silently listen to the same music on your headphones. Option B on this step is to have some room chills and go to bed cause there is a rough day ahead of sun, sand and fun times!
So there you go, a rough guide to your day on Gilis. Feel free to share ¬†your experiences of Gili below, there’s also snorkelling trips to be had, horseback riding, tons of spa options and the option to climb mount Rinjani on Lombok, but since I am on a budget I just decided to have more of a beach vacation for now and leave the mountain climbing for another day!
Categories: Indonesia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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 ‚Äď Vancouver ‚Äď Manilla – Jakarta ¬†$1207.00

Jakarta РBali $ 63.83

Bali – Manila $ 147.00

Manila ‚Äď Kalibo (Boracay) $ 33.00

Kalibo (Boracay) – Manila $30.17

Manila – Palawan $ 29.23

Palawan – Manila $ 33.86

Clark ‚Äď Singapore $ 44.60

Kuala Lumpur ‚Äď 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 ūüôā

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!

backpack2backpack

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 ūüôā

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

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 Рscared. 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 Рa 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 Рif 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

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