Posts Tagged With: Thailand

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

Best of Iphone 426

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.

IMG_4321

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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.

IMG_0169
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.

IMG_4259
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.

IMG_4196

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

Lazy Langkawi and the Long Ride to KL

Our third day in Langakwi was super beachy- the sun was shining and it was almost unbearably hot – almost.  We set up in front of our favorite five star resort and I snuck into their pool numerous times to cool off – hehehe. Sneaky.  We grabbed some duty free beers after burgers for lunch and did some last minute poking around in the mall and little shops before spending the later part of the afternoon in our pretty guesthouse with all the kitties, and our fellow travelers.  I seriously can’t say enough good things about Soluna guesthouse – you have to walk a little bit to get to and from the main road, literally through a field and some rice paddies with water buffalo hanging out, but its so quaint with the cottage style rooms and beautiful greenery, the owner obviously put a lot of effort an planning into making the place a comfortable destination for travelers, and I especially enjoyed the air-con in the dorm and mini fridge to keep our cheap beers cold!  After cleaning up and eating dinner once again at the cheap and delicious Indian place down the road from us, we packed up our stuff and went to bed early.  In the morning we had a kitty-escort to the taxi stand, two funny little guesthouse cats followed us halfway down the road, just being cute little punks!

Our taxi took us to the jetty and I arrived in time to buy a ticket for the 8:15 ferry across the channel to the mainland.  Micheline and I said our goodbyes at this point, as she was traveling north to Thailand and I was headed south to Kuala Lumpur!  Thanks for being such a great and easygoing travel partner!  I’ll miss you!
The ferry ride was FREEZING but I was prepared this time with a sweater and blanket, I sat next to an energetic girl who watched me play candy crush the whooooole way, then whipped out her iPad and played a few rounds herself!  The jetty was a short walk to the bus station in Kuala Perlis, and I spent the next hour anxiously awaiting my bus after being told there is NO ticket counter for my company there. Eeps! Will it come? Am I in the right place? What happens if it doesn’t show up? I was also, at this point, trying to fend off a Pakistani man who decided since I was alone I must be lonely and offered to be my friend, but i soon realized he meant “boyfriend” and I told him thanks but no thanks. Lol. He persisted and THANK GOD my bus rolled up only about 15 minutes late, I said goodbye to my new “friend” and boarded the Transnasional Bus.  I soon realized I had bought a ticket for a bus that stopped in EVERY town in the province, and it was two hours before we even crossed the border into the next one!  Oh well, I got to see every little towns’ bus station, so – there’s that.  We finally got on the road and I figured the ride would take twice as long as the estimated five hours. I was right, cause five hours into the ride we were still nowhere close to KL.  Oh well.  We stopped at another little roadside rest stop, this one more picturesque than the one we had stopped at on the way to Penang.  I ate some noodles and chicken, had my bag of drink and waited in the rain for our bus to open up and depart.  When I say “bag of drink” I literally mean it – they serve drinks in these hilarious takeout mini bags with handles and a straw and ice.  I guess cups are too much effort.
We rolled into KL around 8pm and I was dropped at a bus station called Duta – which is still kinda outside of town. I was anticipating taking a taxi into town but the driver told me to board another bus with the same company – no charge – that would take me down town!  Win for Transnasional Bus Company!! The bus took its sweet time leaving but I wasn’t complaining about a free ride, especially after I realized I could now walk to my hostel from there.  I was armed with my guidebook as we arrived at the Puduraya Bus Station and I successful navigated myself through the streets of Kuala Lumpur and ended up at Reggae Mansion, the coolest, cleanest and funkiest hostel I have stayed at.  I have a little “pod” in the girls dorm with four walls that feels like a tiny hotel room, there’s free breakfast and the facilities are gorgeous! Yes! I already was loving KL!!
Categories: Malaysia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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!!
Categories: Malaysia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pehrentian Island Paradise

Yay! We are back on the beach again!  The Pehrentian Islands are a two tiny islands on the east coast of Malaysia, close to the Thai border and about a ten-hour bus ride from Singapore.  After crossing the border without a hitch, we settled in to sleep and tried to get some shuteye on the swerving bus.  I think i succeeded – i woke up feeling not too crabby at the Merang jetty, the closest we could get to our destination by bus, but still an hour away from our port.  We found two lovely Polish girls to share a taxi with to the Khota Baru jetty, splitting the 100 Rinngit cab fare four ways, making it about CAD $8 each.  At the port, we bought tickets to the islands ($23 return fare or 70 Ringgits) and tickets for our bus ride onwards after the islands (60 Rinngits to Penang, about $20).

The boat ride to the islands was refreshing, and we landed on Kecil, the smaller of the islands, at Long Beach, which isn’t actually that long but looked lovely to us.  We had some problems finding a room, as it’s a holiday weekend and we walked from place to place with our backpacks on, sweating bullets as we begged for a place to stay.  I finally found a room at the LAST place on the beach, a little cottage with a fan and two beds that was grungy but perfect for us at 50 ringgits a night! (25 rinngits each, about $8).  The beach was calling us after that, and we laid on the beach alllll day, working on our tans and soaking in the sun.  Our dinner was not the best,  but it was cheap so what do you expect.  Our plans to watch the fire show were cancelled as it started to pour and we were tired from our overnight bus ride.
Our second day on the island was awesome!! Even though we had to wait an hour and a half for our breakfast at D’Rock Garden, our guesthouse, the sun was out and we hit the beach again.  Around lunchtime we stopped for Milo milkshakes (mmm malted chocolate) and eavesdropped on others who were having trouble finding rooms, even going so far as to sleep on the porches of various hostels and guesthouses!! We felt pretty lucky to have found a room without too much trouble, after that! In the afternoon we walked over to coral beach on the other side of the island, comparing the beaches and the food we found. It was smaller than our but the ambiance was quite nice!  We had dinner (pizza mmm) at the Imbiah Resort and tried to catch the sunset with no dice, as there were clouds rolling in.  Our second night’s attempts to go out and hit the beach bar were once again cancelled because of rain 😦 BOO!! I wanted to see the fire show!
Today it was grey and rainy, so I decided to type up all my blogs and hang out at the overpriced cafe.  Their wifi is down, but its funny to hear all the spoiled and disgruntled tourists complaining around me about poor service, no ATM’s, lack of rooms, and the weather.  Cheer up, people!! You are in paradise!  SO what if there’s nothing to do, there’s a beach!

The evening ended up being really nice, so after playing cards all afternoon and catching a few rays as the sun went down, we decided to go out to the beach party and ended up having an awesome time!! The Changs were flowing, we shared some shisha with some friendly Malaysians, and watched the fire show on the beach – not quite as good as Thailand, but pretty impressive nonetheless!  I even spun some fire myself, sorry Mom!! I cant help it, its too fun!! The fun ended around midnight, though, as these two Cinderellas had to catch the 8am ferry back to the mainland.

 

xo

 

D

 

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

Manic, Muggy Manila

Wahoo!  I am finally out of Palawan!! To be fair, the place did grow on me after a few days, it’s a super cute if not smelly place, and its very cultural for someone who wants to experience the real Filipino way of life, I met some great locals and made new friends, so I can’t say it was all bad.  I was just ready to leave and am soooo excited for Malaysia + Singapore, having bought a Lonely Planet and started reading all about the places I’m going!!

I flew out of Palawan around 1pm and got to Manila without a hitch.  I’m staying with some mutual friends here, who turned out to be excellent hosts and great company as well 🙂  I got to their gorgeous penthouse condo, and there just happened to be a birthday in the house, so we went out to celebrate my new friend Marshalls Bday!  After the first decent shower I’ve had in weeks, we went out to the Sofitel, a very fancy hotel on the bay, doesn’t look like much from the outside, but man was it ever nice inside!  We played some pool while waiting for our table, and had a great ( if not expensive) dinner while swapping travel stories.
The next day I was on my own as my new friends had to work, so I ventured out into the sprawling big city by myself in search of adventure.  Instead of adventure I found a pancake house for breakfast and settled for that, lol.  Everything is so Americanized here! There is TONS of fast food, A Mcdonalds on every corner, and I even found a Starbucks to satisfy my caffeine craving!  Not quite the authentic experience I was looking for, but the Philippines was an american colony for 50 years and before that belonged to spain for 400 years, so it truly is woven into the culture here.  A hybrid mix of old and new which struck me as strange but, hey, its part of their legacy here!
I ignored the shouts and catcalls of the many touts and guys and duders and security guards and walked along the big, dirty, dangerous, smelly streets.  Seriously everyone shouts hello at you, whats your name, where are you from, where are you going….you get the picture.  I just smile and pretend not to speak english. I`ve got nothing against meeting the locals, in fact i love it but they way they approach me makes me feel threatened so i just play dumb.  I found myself at Rizal park, the place where Filipino independence was declared, and although its majestic, its basically just a big fancy park.  i got lost after that trying to find the historic district, and luckily got approached by a sweet lady tout, Mary Jane, who told me I was going the wrong way and offered to give me a tour of Intramuros, the `city within the walls` which is the oldest area in Manila.  I got into the sidecar and had a really enjoyable few hours in the old city, checking out all the old buildings, forts, and museums that I could handle, and talked to MJ about her life in Manila, which is hard but she was super cheery about it and assured me that it was way better here than her life of poverty in the country. She overcharged me for the tour but at that point I really didn’t care, so I gave her 700 pesos (about $18) and decided to check out some of the newer parts of Manila.  I swear I could have walked faster than the taxi that took me to Robinson’s Place, the traffic in this city is actually the WORST.  Add the smog and the heat to that, and , about ten million people, and you have one big dirty mess on your hands.  Still, it is an interesting city and I`m glad I made the effort to stop here.  I even saw my first prostitute deal go down!  A tiny Filipino girl and a big American dude – go figure.
At the mall, I experienced a new kind of culture shock – i felt like I was in America again!  Everywhere I looked were american brands, stores, and chains.  But it all came with some distinctly Filipino touches, lots of kiosks selling Filipino food and drinks, the strangest assortment of foods, and pretty much anything you can dream of was available in this mall.  I ate some delicious Pho (Vietnamese, Not Filipino, so sue me) and successfully maneuvered my way back to Bayview towers, a small accomplishment but I was still proud of myself!!
As I walked back, I noticed two more things – one is the huge population of transgendered men and women in Manila – the concept of gender is very fluid here and nobody seems to blink or care as lipsticked men and butchy women mingle and go about their business.  Its awesome!  The second thing that I saw was absolute poverty everywhere – people living on the streets, sifting through the garbage and living hand to mouth. It was hard to see, and while i was busy feeling sorry for them a whole family noticed me, broke into huge smiles, waving, saying hi and being super friendly and polite.  Wow.  To have such a happy, upbeat attitude for what they had, it really gave me a new perspective.  i waved and smiled back, gave the littlest one some change I had, and continued my way to my penthouse, feeling infinitely luckier than before.
My lovely hosts made me dinner that night, thank you Duncan and Marshall for taking such good care of me in Manila!  i went to bed early and was up at 4:30 am to grab a cab to the airport and flew to Kuala Lumpur without a hitch. My Malaysian and Singapore adventure was just beginning!!
Categories: Phillipines | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Beach Lyfe in Nusa Lembongan

Oh, how relaxing the last two days have been. We were picked up from Kayun hostel and driven to the pier at Sanur in Bali after a quick stop at the Scoot Cruises water taxi ticket office.  Our boat left at 9:30 for Nusa Lembongan, an island off the coast of Bali, about a 40 minute boat ride away. We arrived in good time and good spirits, loaded up into a crowded cart (!) with an Aussie family who we would get to know over the next few days.  When we got to our place, called Star 2000 Bungalows, we thanked our lucky stars that BT had arranged such a sweet place for us to stay.  The beach was right in front of our place, there was an infinity pool and great food and wifi to be had! Woo!

After a couple of hours in our beach chairs, I walked along the beachfront both ways to check it out.  It’s gorgeous here!  I love how the island life mixes with the tourist life so naturally – the Balinese kids all play on the beaches, the seaweed farming goes on at low tide, and fishermen walk by with huge fish that we get to eat for dinner 🙂 We did absolutely nothing our first day here, just moved from the beach chair to the pool to the ocean and back again. After some Bintangs (beers) and pizza and a bit more exploring, Chelsea and I were wiped. So we hit the sack at….wait for it…7 pm!! Well, actually we laughed and talked and hung out in the room before sleeping, but we were fully out before 8:30 pm – old ladies!! No it was actually awesome – when was the last time you got a full 12 hours of sleep?? huh? huh?
Besides we wanted to be in tip-top shape for our snorkeling trip the next day. The Aussie family we had met were aboard as well, and we got to know them as we drove around the island to check out the manta-rays, the COOLEST sea life I have ever seen besides the lil Nemo fish i saw last year in Thailand in Ko Phi Phi.  They were huge and scary with these wide mouths and what looked almost like wings.  I was scared but assured they wouldn’t hurt us. And absolutely no safety instructions. Hrmm.
I started to feel sick in the huge ocean waves, and as soon as I got on the rocky boat – well – I barfed like a champ. Off the side of the boat.  There’s a first time for everything I guess 😦 wah.  I tried to snorkel and enjoy but after the second stop i just hung out on the boat since it was less wave-y in the next few stops.  It was cool to see the island but i was more concentrated on not puking again to really enjoy it. Bleh.
The afternoon got way better after that, I hired a Balinese guy to scooter me around the island so I could see what it was like.  This is one of my fav things to do when I get to a new place, to get my lay of the land and see whats around.  He didn’t disappoint – there was sweet beaches to check out and cool rock formations and temples in the jungle and rickety Indiana Jones-style suspension bridges to see, and even though my bum hurt from the bumpy roads, I was stoked to see and experience it all.
When I got back we did more sunning and swimming and then hit up the place next door to gawp at the Japanese tourists and eat the yummy food.  We joined the Thompsons in celebrating their son’s 19th birthday (HB, Cade!!) and ate cake and compared travel stories and stories about home.  We got convinced to hit up a party with them a short ride away, and off we went to Jibatu (sp?) for a sweet little beach jam, not too crazy but just the right place for a couple of beers and sandy beach fun.
And today?  We are off to even tinier islands for more beach-themed fun!
Categories: Indonesia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Near-Perfect Day in Paradise

Today was as near a perfect day as I could have imagined, a great start to our adventures with perfect weather and excellent friends.  After a great facetime chat with the fam, Chelsea and I hit the shops for a little ‘lucky” shopping in the morning.  Balinese people will give you great deals in the morning b/c they believe its good luck to make sales in the morning and will bring good business all day.  Then we met up with Cassidy and Nicole again to beach it up and get accosted by Balinese ladies who wanted to massage, pedicure, wax, and hassle the eff out of us.  I really like Kuta but it’s very touristy and crowded, people yelling at you from all over to come into their stores, get a massage, take a taxi – its hard to feel relaxed when someone is literally grabbing you and telling you to come into their store. Yargh.  We had a quick lunch and then carried on hassle-free poolside on the rooftop pool of our friends hotel. it was so perfect.  We even found time to do a little crossfit action, courtesy of Ravi, my new friend and all around cool BT guide.

After a quick hotel stop we went back out with our friends for a farewell dinner and had incredible Indonesian food.  The BT guides were so amazing to us, they helped us arrange our travel and figure out what to see and do while we’re here.  They have already made our Bali experience so memorable and fun, its been a pleasure to see old friends and get to know new ones.
What does tomorrow bring? Well, we journey off the beaten path and onwards to Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Islands!! we leave by speedboat tomorrow for some tiny islands and some more fun in the sun!
xoxo
D
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!

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 🙂

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

Blog at WordPress.com.