Posts Tagged With: Toronto

10 Things I Learned While Travelling the World

I’ve been back in Canada for a little less than a month now and have had some time to decompress and to think about my trip.  At first, I thought I hadn’t really changed at all during my travels, but it actually has in a million tiny ways.  I’d like to share that with you now:

10. The Journey is the Thing

My trip had no specific goal, other than to relax, enjoy and experience the world that was far away from home.  This turned out to a great way to travel and, for me, to not focus on the result, but to really take the journey for what it was – an adventure into the unknown.

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9. We are all the Same

I included this in my last list, but I want to say it again.  I love people, and the truest realization I had again while I was overseas is that we are all, at our most basic level, very similar.  We just want to be happy; to have enough food to eat, a roof over our heads, some people who love us and a purpose in life that brings us joy.  I saw all kinds of people living in many different ways as I worked though six countries, but they all have this in common. We are all part of one big human family, and it doesn’t matter where you are from or what you are doing with your life, some things are the same within all of us.

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8. Travel is as Easy and as Hard as you Want it To Be

PATIENCE.  This one virtue has eluded me my whole life, and nothing cures the need for control than a less than smooth travel experience.  I learned about the essence of the journey in my search for patience as I met setbacks and mishaps along the road.   I learned how to be more adaptable, to let things slide, and to only care about the most important things along the way.

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7. Roll with the Waves

This one is a good follow-up to #8.  When I rolled with the upsets along the way, the journey got even more interesting: I saw some things I would otherwise have missed, or had a completely new experiences I wasn’t expecting to have.  By saying “Yes!” I got into more trouble, saw more unexpected things, and had more impromptu adventures than if I had stuck to a strict schedule and followed it the whole way along.

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6. Pay Attention

I learned that there is beauty in the details.  That every city is an intricate mess that somehow works in its own unique way.  That the road less traveled sometimes results in a washed out car or monkeys attacking your windshield.  To stop and save the kittens, get lost on a bike and get found again, and that fun can be found in every airport, bus station, or boat ride.  By paying true attention to my surroundings, I was also able to glimpse into the local life of the people, and have real experiences from the country I was visiting.  That, to me, is priceless.

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5. Embrace the Inner Hippie

I’m normally a goal-oriented, round the clock, by the book kind of person.  To escape that mentality for a while and embrace my inner beach bum was an enlightening experience.  I had whole days with no plans and nothing to do, vague ideas of where the day would take me, and days where I just went with the flow.  That rarely happens in my “real” life in Canada, and it was refreshing to break out of the bubble of who I think I am and step into the sandals of my inner Hippie Goddess.  She is someone I want to know better, and a side of me that I won’t soon forget now that we’ve been re-aquainted!

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4. Trust the Kindness of Strangers

In my travels I stayed with family friends, friends of friends, new friends and people I didn’t even know at all. I was welcomed into countless homes with open arms, to people eager to share in my travel journey and get to know me.  I feel SO blessed to now have friends from all over the world, and want to thank each and every one of you for your hospitality and help in exploring all these new places 🙂 If you ever travel, and someone recommends that you stay with a friend or you have family/friends to stay with overseas, DO IT! It will completely change your perspective on the country you are visiting, because you get to see it through the eyes of a local.  A thousand thank-you’s again to all those who put me up while I was abroad!  You are welcome to return the favour here in Canada anytime!

3. Comfort Zones are Boring

I did something new and crazy in every country I went to: Surfing in Indonesia, Parasailing in Philippines, and even Skydiving in New Zealand.  Get out of your comfort zone and try some new and crazy stuff.  It will enrich your travel experience and add a whole new level of fun.  Besides, that’s what travel is for: new experiences and adventures! It doesn’t matter how scared you are – do something wild and crazy!  eat that cricket off a Bangkok bug cart!  Take the jet boat ride through the canyon!  Throw yourself out of a plane! These things are the highlights of my travels as I look back on them now, the times I challenged myself and really went for it.

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2. Theres No Place like Home

Canada is an amazing country. I learned this while I was abroad through other travellers stories about my home country, that it is a well-loved place in the world and worth exploring in its own right.  Talking about it with others made me realize how much I love being a Canadian and how lucky I am to call this place my home.  I never really appreciated it until I left for a long time and realized what a phenomenal place it is.

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1. I am SO lucky

The fact that I was able to pull off this trip still boggles my mind.  There was so much planning involved – a years worth of time and effort went into it, and now that I’m back I can see what a privileged position I hold as a citizen of Canada.  I have enough food to eat, a roof over my head, and friends and family who love and care about me.  The rest is just gravy!  Upon returning I went to my bathroom and turned on the tap, thinking back to all the times I didn’t have access to fresh water on my travels. Something as simple as turning on the tap can take on new meaning after travelling: it represents all that we take for granted, being from a first world country were every comfort is provided for.  I feel that, now, I am able to name how lucky I truly am.

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Well. That’s it!  I’m sure I will update this blog again in the future as life takes me on more travels, but for now I am happy to have landed back in Canada, ready to take on the world 🙂

xo

D

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

Back to Canada at Last

The next morning I woke up in my new dorm pretty disoriented, where was I?

Oh yea. In New Zealand, about to fly back to Canada after almost four months of travel!! Weeee!  I packed up all my stuff for the last time, after a long hot shower and met some other friends who were staying in the Jailhouse for a hot breakfast and coffee.  We had a great time just comparing stories and enjoying each others company before setting off to the airport together, since we all had flights around a similar time.  At the airport, I saw a few more friends who had been on the trip, disembarking back to all four corners of the world.  I was lucky enough to have my friend Tim on my flight back to Auckland, and we drank wine as we waited for our flight. yum!  I love NZ wine!

Back in Auckland I had a few hours to kill, and blogged some more while waiting for the EPIC thirteen hour flight that would bring me back to Canada.  In actuality, it didn’t turn out that bad, I had a seat next to me that was empty on the plane, so could stretch out a bit.  I watched a few movies and even managed to get some sleep with the help of two more glasses of delicious NZ red.

Vancouver was my last stop on the looong way back to Toronto, and I had two hours to kill in Vancity.  I didn’t leave the airport, I should have made one of my Vancouver friends come out and see me and go out somewhere for food in Richmond or something, but was pretty groggy and just wanted to get back to Tdot at that point.  Vancouver, I’m coming to see you another time, I promise!

My final flight wasn’t too bad either, I felt kind of rested, there was a seat free in the middle again, and I had bought a new book that was holding my attention.  At 12:30 am I finally landed in my hometown.  I was the only one with an entourage to greet me as I came out of the luggage area – my whole family was there to welcome me back! It felt so good to get all those hugs and kisses I’d been missing while I was travelling.  I even got some beautiful flowers as a welcome home present!

I’m HOME!!!!! Finally!  What an incredible journey this summer was.  I hope all of you can experience some kind of epic trip like I have. It’s been fantastic to be able to share it with you through this blog.

xoxo

D

Categories: In the Air, New Zealand | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

Chillin at Avoca Beach

I spent my last weekend in Sydney visiting my friend Rachel and her hubby, Brendan in Avoca Beach which is about an hour from Sydney to the North.  The train ride out was picturesque, it winds through the countryside and along the bay and it was a nice day so I was able to enjoy the view.  My friend Rachel picked me up from the station in Gosford, a little town about 20 minutes from the coast where she lived in North Avoca beach.  It`s a gorgeous seaside town, and after I got a driving tour of all the beautiful beaches along the way, I settled into the Swan household for the evening.  I was treated to several new Aussie beers beachside at the beer garden, and caught up with  my friend over (a great many) drinks and delicious Thai food.  We had a blast, I even got to take in some footy and got to listen to some Aussie musicians that I hadn’t heard of before.

The next morning was Rachel’s birthday, so I got to be a guest at her birthday brunch with the whole family!  Rachel lived with my family in Canada for a while, and I had forgotten her parents had also visited, so it turned out her family knows my whole family, it was great to chat and hang out with people who knew all about my life in Canada and to experience a taste of beachside life outside of Sydney.  After a seaside breakfast at the surf club on Avoca Beach, we hit up the local markets where there were trinkets, antiques, handmade crafts, clothing and food for sale.  It was a perfect way to spend a lazy sunny Sunday, and I bought some gifts and even a few trinkets for myself!  I loved the beachy atmosphere of the town, it was super friendly and reminded me of some of the summer neighborhood markets we have back home in Toronto.
After the markets we had a “sausage sizzle” with Snags (sausages) and Rissoles (home-made hamburger patties) and I sampled some good Australian beer (on fifty lashes, coopers ale) on the front deck of the Swan household, and then was treated to a scenic drive of the surrounding area, including a visit to the beach where Rachel and Brendan had gotten married six months earlier, and a stop of ice cream as well.  The surrounding ares is gorgeous, national parks are all over the place, and it seems like a great family community so close to the city.  I’m glad I’ve been able to get out of the city so much while I’m in Sydney and into the surrounding countryside, it’s very different from the rest of Australia, and stunningly gorgeous!  I feel pretty lucky to have so many friends in this country – I think I will be back to take advantage of this country sooner than later, there so much that I missed, and more that I want to see!
After a sunny afternoon train ride back to the city, I was ready for my next adventure – a week-long trip to Melbourne, to catch up with some more Aussie and Canadian friends.  My plane ride was pretty uneventful as far as rides go, only an hour and a half to get there.  I ditched my big backpack for the week so it was fast and painless – I didn’t even have to wait for my luggage!

 

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

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

Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

I’ve survived the first two parts of my journey, including the longest flight I’ve ever taken in my life.  Whew.  I’m almost there!  I said goodbye to Canada and my family yesterday (at least I think it was yesterday, I’m between time zones right now). We had a teary goodbye at the airport and I had deja-vu from my trip last year, feeling nervous and excited all at the same time – anxious to go but apprehensive about my capability to pull this trip off.  I didnt cry this year, I was too wound up to realize how long its going to be before I see my wonderful family and my amazing friends!  I cried a little on the plane but I followed my best friend Holly’s advice about crying in public: put your damn sunglasses on, hold a tissue and pretend its allergies. Thanks babe.
The view from YVR

The view from YVR

The first flight was uneventful, I’ve done the YYZ-YVR trip so many times it seems pretty natural. It was sad to only be able to stay in Vancity for a few hours, I lived there for fouryears and wish I could have hopped off and seen all my friends!  Next year!  The second flight was 13 hours long. Euuugh. I popped two heavy duty motion sickness pills and drank a beer which was my patented sleep remedy for long hauls in T-land last year. It worked like a charm!  I awoke to find that I only had five hours left until touchdown in Manila. Yay!
It never hits me until I get on the plane. What am I doing this for? Why do I feel the need to go halfway across the world just to see whats out there? How will it change me?
The secret that I’m learning is this: life and people are the same all over the world – you go to see something new and all you see are skyscrapers, bland airports and fast food restaurants just like you have at home. Globalization at its finest, people.  The challenge lies in the journey, of pushing yourself off the cliff and WAY out of your comfort zone.  The places I visit may very well be breathtaking and unusual, or maybe boring and uninspiring, but the experiences I have along the path will change me either way.  Adventure awaits!
But for now im sitting in an ugly transfer lounge in Manilla’s Ninoy Aquino airport, waiting for something (anything!) to happen so I can get on my next and second last flight. THERES NO WIFI! FOR THE LOVE OF GODDDDD!!
Plus I read my whole damn book on the way from Toronto to Vancouver. Curse my magical speed reading capabilities.
Categories: In the Air | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Three Nights in Bangkok

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

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

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

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

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

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

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