Posts Tagged With: monkeys

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

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

Beach Daze and Cheap Changs

Our time in Langkawi was equally split between eating delicious food, lazing on the beach and shopping our butts off.  We woke up on our first full day on the island and were disappointed that it was kind of cloudy out.  No matter, we had an island hopping tour booked at 2pm and decided to head to the beach anyways – as it promptly started raining. Poop. We took shelter at what would become our favorite beachy place, outside the fancy Casa Del Mar resort, and watched the rain.  It let up in time for us to grab some lunch and snacks and be herded onto a bus to the jetty to catch our boat.  it was us, four girls from Syria and a whole lotta Malaysian Muslims! Our first stop was to the lake of the Pregnant Maiden, a freshwater lake on an island nearby that was gorgeous!  It reminded Micheline and I of our cottages back home and we laughed as some of the other tourists took what looked like their first swim, life jackets and all!

The second stop was cool but not to my taste, since eagle-feeding sounds all majestic and awesome but is actually taming these gorgeous animals and making them dependent on the food we give them.  It was interesting to see such a large eagle colony and of course to see them swooping down to grab the food, but made me sad since this is not a responsible thing to do.  The garbage at the tourist sites in Malaysia disappoint me quite a bit as well – if you have been given the gift of Paradise, do you seriously want to ruin it with pop cans and candy wrappers!  Smarten up, Malaysia!!
We stopped at a third island as well, for more beachy fun.  We wanted to snorkel but our conversation with the water sports guys went like this:  “Is there anything for us to see” Snorkel guy: “um, no. really clear water.”  us: “ok. pass.” We laid on the beach and befriended some other girls who turned out to be from Canada as well (french side) and I got to hear a bit about their travels in Australia, my next destination.  The weather ended up being great for the rest of the day and we loved just boating around the various small islands.  Not bad for 25 ringgits! about 9 dollars.  After chilling at the hostel for a bit, we shopped in the evening, I picked up some souvenirs for friends and family and bought cheap beers to drink on the beach since there was, once again, NO party to speak of on the beach or otherwise.  We snuck through an amazing resort on our way home, the Frangipani, and were amazed by how the other half lives – winding pools, private water park, and gorgeous villas.  Someday!!
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Underground River and Goodbye Chelsea!

Today we checked out the underground river, a natural wonder of the world which consists of a network of caves extending 8 km underground that you can paddle through on a boat.  We woke up early to board the bus for a bumpy two-hour ride to the other side of the island. Big surprise, everyone else on our tour was – Asian!! Weee!  Oh well. Nobody new to talk to but we were used to it by then.  Our bus stopped at Sabang Beach, which was beautiful!  We had a great buffet lunch filled with local foods and after that took a small boat to the entrance of the caves.  We got to see some cute monkeys and humongous lizards as well.

The caves themselves were very impressive, just the type of place you might expect to see tons of bats and an underground lair worthy of Bruce Wayne.  The boat ride itself was cool, our tour guide was very funny and pointed out the sights to us.  Just me, Chelsea and a whooole bunch of Asians. Sigh.
After the river and a bumpy ride back to Puerto Princesa, we took a long walk and discovered a sweet department store and a cute restaurant called Heavenly Desserts by Dorothy, where we ate dinner and had some heavenly desserts!  Then another very quiet night at our guesthouse – Puss in Boots was on (our only movie option) so we watched that and called it a night.  In the morning me and Chelsea said our goodbyes, she was off to Manila and eventually Vancouver while I had the pleasure of staying in Palawan for another three nights!! urg.
xoxo
D
Categories: Phillipines | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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 😀

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

Gili T – My New Favorite Place on Earth

I think I’ve found it….again.  Gili Trawangan is my newest in a long line of favorite destinations, and this time, I think its love!  Let me back up a little here – three days ago we took a two and a half hour ferry to the Gili Islands, three tiny beachy islands nestled close to the mountains in Lombok, an island province close to Bali.  We were going to stay in a hostel but decided against it, the cheap and cute guesthouses that dotted the island were too tempting for us.  We found the Pondok Twins Garden with a little help from our Scoot Cruises employee, the ride over here with them was awesome and I highly recommend it.

It was perfect!  A little guesthouse nestled in on a back street not far from the beach.  We settled in for four nights, and set off to explore this gorgeous little place.  We were amazed at the turquoise blue color of the ocean, and the view of distant mountains on Lombok.  After settling into a table at Gili Cafe, we ran into one of Chelsea’s friends that was, by coincidence, was staying on the island. Yes it’s that small!!
The sunset was our next destination, and after getting horribly lost in what we jokingly referred to as the “suburbs of Gili”, we emerged on the other side of the island, in time to watch the beautiful sunset and have a bintang.  That night we chilled with Chelsea’s friend Connor, and his two Canadian counterparts, Joey and Pete.  Since its Ramadan, the island is very quiet, and out of respect for the locals the nightlife is curtailed to a single silent disco, which we got to experience the next evening! We ate dinner at the night market, which was a super fun experience, trying all the local foods and finishing my meal off with a giant roasted corn on the cob mmmmm.
Our first full day in Gili was super beachy, I learned some bad news from home, my family had been affected by the flooding in Toronto from the storms that are going on there right now, and our basement was in 7ft of water!! There is a ton of damage, but as my mom said, “it’s just stuff” and they are all safe so apart from a massive clean up job they are ok!
We shopped the island that afternoon and literally shopped it out, finding nothing of interest to buy – all trinkets and overpriced beachwear. I did buy a sweet Balinese mask from a local artist though, who had his workshop and store  right beside my guesthouse. I felt kinda like i was getting an eye infection, but a smooth and painless trip to the Indonesian Dr on the island and some meds, later I was on the mend. It’s already cleared up! Yay! sickness one averted.
It looked like it was gonna rain so we strategically sat ourselves in a beach cafe to watch the rain and eat a late lunch.  Then it was time to meet up with the guys for shisha and people watching, until after the sun set and we moved onto the silent disco!!
The silent disco was my favorite experience on Gili so far, we all got these sweet remote headsets and were listening to the same tunes at the same time, filling the dance floor and the room with our off-key singing.  It was hilarious to briefly take the headphones off and look around at all the people dancing wildly, silently to the music!  We had such a good time!!
Gili is such a friendly, sunny place, full of unbelievably nice and accommodating people, there’s tons of families around as well as young people, the food is good, and the vibe is just right.
It’s good to know there’s a place like this on earth. It’s as close to heaven as I’ve ever been.
xo
D
Categories: Indonesia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Siem Reap and Angkor WHAT??!

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My bus trip from BKK to Cambodia cost 300 Baht (about ten Canadian dollars) and took about 10 hours including waiting time, not a bad trip overall considering it included a border crossing as well.  I met some cool British girls and a German girl on my bus trip over there, as well – me and the Brits ended up doing all of Cambodia together!  Our journey started by Minibus to the border, we had the tour company arrange our visas, at an inflated price but it saved the hassle  of trying to figure it out myself.  It cost a thousand Baht (33 bucks) and I needed an additional passport picture to get into Cambodia as well.

We crossed the border without mishap, you could immediately notice a difference between the two countries. In Thailand the roads were populated with trucks and minibuses, in Cambodia there were hand carts being pushed by people, and tons more motorcycles.  We boarded a creaky bus to the main Bus Terminal, and waited there for two hours as our bus filled in (slowly) with tourists.  Another three-hour bus ride got us from the border to Siem Reap relatively painlessly.

The town was lit up for an evening of party debauchery – we were accosted at every turn by overly friendly tuk-tuk drivers, massage ladies, and shopkeepers as we tried to get our bearings and figure out where our hostel was.  Turns out it was a short tuk tuk ride away, across the river and separated from the noise of the main tourist area.  Still walkable though, but my favourite way to get around was riding sidesaddle on the back of a moto, which would set you back about a dollar to get anywhere in town very fast!  After finding our little 6 bed dorm in Angkor Thom Guesthouse to be quite comfy, we ventured out into the night and checked out The Red Piano, where Angelina Jolie created a cocktail while filming her flick Tomb Raider a few years ago.  The food was delicious and prompt too!

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Our journey took a lot of us, so we opted for an early night to get ready for some temple action the next day.  Our friendly (aggressive) tuk tuk driver from the night before was parked outside of our guesthouse ready to pounce, so we got him to take us around the temple complex area for the day for $20US – 5 bucks a person.  We also had to pay for tickets to the actual temple complex as well, a one day pass gave us access to all the temples, even though we only got to see three up close.

Our guide took us to see the “Tomb Raider” temple as he called it, which is named Ta Prohm and is famous for the ancient trees growing out of the ruins – the sunlight was pouring in on the day we visited and made for a spectacular viewing of the place!  We were allowed to climb in an around the ruins on the platforms set up for tourists – we marvelled at the facet that we were allowed so much access and freedom to wander through such a sacred and ancient place.  Us and every other Asian tourist group, of course 😛

Our “tour guide” tuk tuk driver took us to The Bayon next inside the bid temple complex, an impressive pile that featured many four-sided faces of the Buddha. – very serene.  Our last stop was the actual temple of Angkor Wat. We wanted to catch the temple at sunset, and spent the last remaining daylight hours exploring the huge temple and grounds, imagining what it must have been like in its glory days.  After a few attempts at catching the sunset in some memorable pictures, we headed to the NIght Market for delicious indian food and a night out at Angkor WHAT?! a tongue in cheek name for a sweet bar on Pub street.  Dancing the night away is always a good end to the day, I think!  We joined the touristy crowd and danced until the wee hours on the tables.  It was a very fun day, to say the least!

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Misty Mountains

We arrived in Khao Sok and boarded the raddest hippie bus I have ever seen, it was straight out of a movie, brightly colored, broken down looking, and generally awesome. 3 working fans = not awesome though!

We also met up with the other 24-day tour group at this point, making 40 people or so in total. We would be travelling with them for the next eight days, doing the lake house, full moon and Ko Phangan together.

We arrived at the Smile guesthouse in Khao Sok, a gorgeous guesthouse in the middle of the mountains of a national park.  It literally looked like Jurassic Park, with mist rolling through the mountains, elevated jungle huts and a gorgeous lobby full of heavy dark furniture and little fountains.

Our first order of business was to buy booze for the river tubing adventure.  We bought delicious boozies then loaded up the floating coolers for our trip down the river.  We grabbed a tube each and walked down the road to the river, jumping into the shallow water and letting the current float us for a blissful, tipsy two hours of fun…

Until I looked down and realized the waterproof camera I had brought had somehow unlocked its “airtight” compartment and was now full of water…I was not impressed. It was such a crap thing to happen on an otherwise great day, I tried not to let it get to me. Back to the guesthouse after to prep for the monkey temple.

Once the cam was safely in a bag of rice drying out, I grabbed my stuff and headed out with the rest to check out the  monkey temple.

Monkeys are the greediest little jerks you have ever seen. Just sayin. We got to the temple and paid for some peanuts and bananas to feed the seemingly cute little guys, they were super grabby and even though it was cute to see them running around, they were actually a little scary….haha. Disney films have it all wrong. I’m not sure I’d want to be alone around a bunch of monkeys now.

My day ended pretty early, on account of me being pretty sauced on the river cruise. After dinner I decided to sleep for an hour to be fresh for the evening, aaaand woke up the next morning instead. Whoops!

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Tigers and Monkeys in Kanchanaburi!

We woke up in our floating guesthouse, and packed up as it was finally time to leave Kanchanaburi and head south.  We had two more stops in the area, though – the seven layer waterfall and the tiger temple.

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The waterfall was in a national park, and is literally seven different waterfalls along a beautiful trail, complete with cheeky monkeys along the way. We were told to hold tight to our cameras because the monkeys love anything shiny and they WILL steal your camera. But they were sooooo cuuute!! One even had a little baby holding onto her mama as they crashed through the trees above us!

We got to swim in several of the waterfall pools as we hiked, and i sat in a little pool while the little fishies nibbled my feet (it tickled!).  After the hike, we ate some lunch and headed back to the bus – it was tiger time, baby.

The temple was really a tiger sanctuary, where rescued tigers can live from cubs, growing up around humans so they are used to us, and able to be in a relaxed state. We got to walk right up to the tigers, pet them and hang out while the trainers took pictures of us. It sounds dangerous but it was really a controlled environment – you had to hold the trainers hand and every tiger had its own trainer beside him. My camera died just as it  was my turn (bah) so I  had to borrow a friends camera to get my pics petting and walking with the tigers.  We paid a little extra and got to watch the tiger show, where they caged US in (haha) and let the tigers loose.  They jumped and play fought and prowled and were basically the most majestic and beautiful animals I’ve ever seen up close. It was totally worth it to pay the extra couple of bucks and watch the show.

We got back on the bus in time for our next adventure, the night train to the south.  This journey deserves its own blog, so ill stop here and pick it up later.

Xoxo

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Amazing Thailand

Ok well for the past few days I have seriously tried to write out some blogs and keep up with whats happening, but there has been way too much fun stuff happening to find time to sit and write.

Thailand is an incredible place and i have had so many unforgettable experiences already, i know im going to be coming back completely changed. It’s not hard to see why so many people come here and choose never to leave. It really is that good.

Oh, and mom, dad, don’t worry….im still gonna come home. Eventually 😛

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