Posts Tagged With: New Zealand

Auckland Daze

My flight to Auckland was bright and early, but I didn’t get into Auckland until the afternoon due to the time difference. Last year in Thailand I met two lovely Kiwis on my travels, and I was graciously invited to stay with my friend Hannah when I arrived in her hometown in NZ! She picked me up and drove me to her family home just outside of the city, and I settled into the guest room, complete with my own bathroom – Bliss! That night she took me down to the bay where we caught up over delicious Mexican food and had KiwiYo, a make-your-own-yogurt not unlike our North American Menchies!! MMMmmmm. The next day was a beach day, the weather was fantastic so we took a wind-y drive to Piha, a black sand beach just over the hills with unreal views along the way. The beach was beautiful, and I’d never seen a black sand beach before so it was a novelty when I found out it was quite warm! We chilled on the beach all day, enjoying the unusually warm spring day and tanning – my last tanning day of my whole trip 😦 Lunch was at a cute pub, and in the evening I was treated to a family dinner at Hannah’s house – Thanks to her family for making me feel so welcome and for making me such a fantastic dinner. It was comforting to have some “family time” after being away from mine so long. It was also great to hang out with my other friend Chanel who I met last year, she’s a flight attendant now – see you in the skies, girl!

 

My last day in Auckland was busy – after a long lie-in and a spot of jet lag, Hannah and I ate eggs benedict at a local cafe and visited the art gallery where I saw some fantastic Maori art and cool modern installations. My favorite was this huge flower chandelier that opened and closed as we walked by. I also got to see Mount Eden, where we took in a panoramic view of the city and got some gelato in the cute suburb of Mount Eden afterwards as a treat! I also got some shopping time in the evening at the local markets, where there was tons of international food to eat and some kitschy shopping too. Overall, my favorite part about Auckland was catching up with Hannah and meeting her fantastic family, it’s a great city but not super touristy – very beautiful but not a ton of “historic” things to do and see. The downtown area is very hilly and compact, with lots of cute shops and restaurants, but I didn’t get to explore it too much cause I wasn’t living the backpacker life – thank GOD!!

 

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Categories: New Zealand | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Melbourne Footy Madness

My weekend in Melbourne was unreal!  I laid low on the Friday during the day because I had lots of catchup blogging to do and wanted to conserve my hard-earned cash for a fun night out 🙂  I met my friend Matt from University in Toronto at the main station downtown, and we headed off into the night to a trendy hotspot called Cookie for some Asian inspired eats and drinks.  He is traveling through Aus with his girlfriend for a year and they are loving the Melbourne life!  I was able to get a locals perspective from him about the city and we swapped travel stories into the night, stopping at another trendy bar before visiting his girlfriend Shayna at an upscale chocolate shop for after drinks hot chockie and macaroons, my kryptonite pastry snack.  We had to call it a night after that due to the gross rain (again, same as Vancity!) but we made plans to meet up for the football game the next day and catch up some more.

I woke up on Saturday to find Torrance had made a delicious vegan brunch for us, and we ate on the porch as her flatmates`beautiful cat Oscar looked on.  What a cutie!! I was ready to party on this footy grand final day, and we got an early start at the casino that afternoon where we settled in to watch the game.  I got to meet some of Matt and Shayna’s friends and hung out with their crew as we downed beers and watched a close match – wasn’t quite sure who to cheer for, so cheered for the winning team of course!! We hung around the casino after the game, eating a mediocre meal at the Italian restaurant and wasting some money at the poker machines.  It actually wasn’t all wasted cause the guy beside us ended up winning three thousand dollars and treating us all to a drink – score!!
After that we went to Chapel Street, another neighborhood close to St. Kilda for more drinks.  I wish i could remember the name of the trendy bar we ended up at but I was honestly too far gone at that point to take note – I had been drinking since one pm, give me a break!  I DO remember that we had extremely good chips at a place called Lord of the Fries after that, and I excitedly ordered a Toronto dog which wasn’t even that good, I just ordered it cause it made me homesick lol.
I decided that I could somehow walk home after that, and got a wee bit lost before miraculously ending up at the restaurant that Torrance was working at without too much effort!! I literally walked by and was like “oh, this is it! what luck!” We walked home though St. Kilda and the area was still pumping, people were celebrating the win for the Hawks late into the night.  I, however, needed to get home as I had to catch an 8am flight back to Sydney. EW. It was actually the worst the next morning, i needed a nap when I got back to David’s house, he graciously sacrificed his beauty sleep to pick me up from the airport.
We had a fun Sunday downtown after that, ending up going to the aquarium and the wildlife park down in Darling Harbor, and ate an amazing meal at the Meat and Wine Company on the harbor where David used to work, so we were treated like royalty!  I had my last day in Australia today, it wasn’t actually very exciting, I took a walk around my now-homey feeling neighborhood and had one last cup of delicious coffee.  Tonight we are going for Sushi (very Aussie, I know) and will be celebrating a successful six weeks in Australia!  I feel like I managed to pack a lot into my trip.  Tomorrow I board the plane to New Zealand and start the last leg of my journey around the world!  Onwards to Middle Earth!!
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My Last Week as a Sydneysider

My last week in Sydney was a perfect mix of downtime and sightseeing.  I’ve tried to save my money for Melbourne and New Zealand, so I took it easy for a few days and caught up on my emails, registered for school when I’m back in Canada and caught up with some friends and family as well. I did have some outings, though, and made the best of my time left in Sydney.  One day trip brought me back to Chinatown and Darling Harbor, where I thought I might go to the Aquarium but then cheaped out when I saw how much it was!  40 bucks?  No thank you – that’s my daily budget!

I started my day in Chinatown where I was on a mission to do some cheap souvenir shopping at Paddy’s Markets, a bargain type of mall where there were tons of stalls selling cheap souvenirs and useless crap.  I love useless crap!  But I refrained from buying too much stuff cause of course I have to carry it all on my back.  It’s a good deterrent from spending too much.  After checking out Chinatown ( I think I’ve been to about a hundred Chinatowns on this trip) I went down to Darling Harbor, which was gorgeous in the daytime as well.  I walked all along the harbor, checked out the tall ships around the Naval Museum and walked all along the Cockle Bay Wharf, with its trendy shops and restaurants catering to the hundreds of tourists milling around.  I had sticker shock at the aquarium after that, and decided to go instead to the Queen Victoria Building, which I had stumbled upon the other day and wanted to check out in more detail.  The QVB is actually a part of downtown Sydney called the Strand Arcade, a gorgeous stretch of Victorian buildings (now more populated with office buildings and suits) where you can wander and gawp at all the buildings.  But the obvious centrepiece is this gorgeous “mall” (I use that word lightly as it looks NOTHING like any mall you’ve seen, its super swank) with beautiful columns, staircases and very expensive shops and cafes all catering to Sydney’s business élite and upscale shoppers.  I had a way overpriced coffee and some delicious macaroons while people watching and had a great afternoon just browsing and window shopping.  Yay!
I also took a day trip to Manly Beach, you have to catch the ferry there from Circular Quay, and the harbor views are unmissable.  I took tons of pics of the opera house and the Harbor as we passed.  I got to Manly kind of late and only got an hour or two of rays, but it was fun to walk around and see both sides of the beach, I wish I had time to do some of the coastal walks around the area, but it was getting dark/cold and I needed to get back on the ferry to watch the epic sunset over the harbor on the boat!  It was my last beach day for a while, as Melbourne is not going to be very warm and I’m not expecting New Zealand to be either, so it made me super sad as my fabulous tan is fading.  I worked so hard on it all summer!! WHYYYYYYY.  I know, I’m so hard done by. Ha ha ha.
One more fun thing I did this week was drop in on a house party with David and his friends, I met a ton of great people and partied the night away.  I’m loving the laid back Aussie lifestyle, it’s so easy to get into the swing of things here, I think if I wasnt starting to miss home I might consider setting myself up in Sydney for a while!

 

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

A Much Needed Week off in Sydney

I Love this CITY! My time in Sydney so far has been really relaxing, a perfect recovery breath in the midst of all my travels.  I’ve settled into apartment life with my friend David, who lives close to the city in the suburb of Leichhardt, the little Italy area which reminds me of Toronto a lot. I’ve spent a bit of time this week recovering from my Asian Bird Flu as I lovingly refer to it, I’ve been feeling sick-ish on and off since Malaysia and am happy to have some time to sleep and get myself over whatever is attacking my insides at the moment!  In my first few days I had dinner overlooking the Opera House (very memorable!) and saw all around the harbor area, saw Bondi Beach and sampled some of the nightlife there, explored Leichhardt and the Little Italy area, read, relaxed, recuperated and generally tried to save $$ cause there are lots of things I want to do in Melbourne and NZ, i need to make sure I have enough to do the other things I want to do.  I’ve been watching lots of Australian movies (Chopper, Ned Kelly, The Castle, Crocodile Dundee) and got to sample a famous meat pie from Harry’s down on Finger Wharf one night as well. Also in the books, I’m planning to visit Melbourne at the end of September before I jet off to the last country on my list, and some visits to friends who live in or near Sydney as well!

This weekend on the agenda is the beautiful Hunter Valley, a wine region not too far from the city which produces some of the best wines in the country, including the Sparkling Shiraz which is exclusive to the area. Mmmm. Wine.
xo
D
Categories: Australia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Epic Journey 2013 – It Begins!

It’s official!

In exactly one month I will be leaving Canada again for another trip around the world.  This trip will be longer, with more stops and I’m visiting 6 new countries along the way. I’ve been carefully planning for months – I began to plan this trip as soon as I got back in Sept 2012, so this puppy is a long time coming!

When I started to plan my trip I began with some basic questions – Where do I want to go next? What places are calling out to me? What can I absolutely not miss this time around? Also my trusty travel partner factors into this – where does Chelsea want to go and see?

Here’s the basic plan: Start with Chelsea in Bali for two weeks, then Philippines for two.  Miss C goes home after that (boo!) and I continue on to Singapore for ten or so days, then Malaysia for about the same. THEN, Australia awaits!  Yes, I am going down under FINALLY to see for myself why I love the Australians so much.  Anyone who knows me knows I’ve got a weak spot for that accent!! My final trip will be to NZ, where I will be catching up with two amazing ladies that I met on the night boat to Ko Tao! All in all I will be gone for about three and a half months, and will have covered most of SE Asia and Oceania in my adventures of this year and last.

This trip is very important to me, for a few big reasons. Number one, I graduated university this year, and this trip is my present to myself for accomplishing that milestone and taking a break before adult life and a full time job.  I learned so much and got to know myself in new ways while I was travelling last year, I knew my journeys weren’t over.  I want to strap on my trusty sandals, throw caution to the wind and live my life wild and free like we are meant to do, if only for a little while.

AND GUESS WHAT?? YOU GET TO COME WITH ME! In blog, form, that is. 😛

Welcome aboard. It’s gonna be a hell of a ride.

xo

D

Me and Chelsea on top of the world

Categories: Pre-Trip | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 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

The Night Boat to Ko Tao

Chelsea and I left Railay in the afternoon for Krabi, on what would be another memorable journey across Thailand from West to East coasts.  In Krabi we met up with some friends I had made in Railay, three lovely Brits who we would end up hanging out with quite a bit when we got to our final destination – Ko Tao!

British Sardines in a Can 😛

We wanted to spend another few days beaching it up and relaxing before another round of full moon shenanigans, and Ko Tao seemed like the place to do it.  Our friends suggested we skip Ko Lanta (too quiet) and Ko Samui (too touristy) in favour of a tiny island famous for diving and sunny beaches. So that’s where we set our sights!

A big happy hippie bus took us on the three-hour journey from Krabi to the pier in Surat thani, and we arrived during the early evening ready to board the night boat.  We had been warned against taking the boat, due to its interesting (sketchy) condition, but decided it would be an adventure and did it anyways. I’m glad we did but I’m not sure I would do it again!

We saw the boat that would take us over and seriously doubted it would be able to make the trip..bad sign!  As we killed time on the pier, Chelsea and I hung out and I practiced fire spinning, which brought the curiosity and attention of tourists and locals alike (“whats that?” “what are you doing?” – “Oh, it’s just my fire spinning stick, I’m practicing” – “Ooooh. cool” ) 😀  We met some cute girls from NZ and realized we would be bunking next to them for the night.

On boarding the boat, I soon found that this journey would be unlike any other I had ever taken in my life….the beds were pallets on the floor – about a hundred beds crammed into the deck that was literally a cargo ship underneath.  They were laid out in numbered rows and as we all packed on, populated with tons of young tourists, Thai ladies with their large Caucasian boyfriends, and some locals, too.

I plopped down on my bed, looked around and thought – hey, this isn’t too bad!  Until a disgruntled Thai lady and her (large, old, Caucasian) boyfriend plopped down beside me and informed me I was on her bed.  I looked over – the numbers were spaced out so that every person only gets half a bed!! I apologized and moved down – almost on top of Chelsea!  How was this gonna work?? It was a very long, rocky, uncomfortable night – I spent most of it spooned around my backpack at the end of my ‘bed’, afraid of inciting the Thai lady’s wrath by placing my feet pointing at her (a very rude thing to do in T-land) and also of having my things stolen, something I had been warned about.

Our ship of dreams (nightmares)

The night passed eventually, amongst the hundred or so tourists crammed into the boat.  People would get up and walk over you as there was nowhere to sleep, the fan relentlessly pounded cold air at me and I had to see out a blanket (there was none) and Chelsea woke up to discover she was spooning with Hannah (our new NZ friend) in a very friendly way!

Our boat rolled into Ko Tao around 6am, and we had to figure out where to stay and find a place that was open…A feat that left us standing around, very tired, at our chosen resort, until the reception opened at 8am.  We snapped up a little jungle hut (consisting of a bed, hose for a shower and about a thousand mosquitoes) and started to explore the island – Our Sairee Beach adventure had just begun!!

Categories: Thailand | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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