Happiness

Happiness is the consequence of personal effort.

You fight for it,

strive for it,

insist upon it,

and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it.

You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings.

And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it.

You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it….

I crossed the street to walk in the sunshine.

 

Photo: Patara Turkey at Sunset… Beautiful

What the media does to us

The media is a funny thing when it comes to traveling…

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I remember before I started traveling I would read, or hear things on the news, that made me terrified to travel to certain parts of the world. I started with the “safer” countries, then began exploring others around.

In 2013 my best friend and I went to Greece, because HELLO, I am pretty sure the beautiful Greece is on everyone’s bucket list. When we were exploring around Greece we figured out we could get a 45 min- 1 hour boat ride over to Turkey and explore there like many other backpackers around us had also done.

When we got to Turkey it was the most beautiful place I had ever been…

We started out at Oludeniz Turkey, which can take your breath away. The beach and scenery were to die for, and they even had paragliding. Each and every place we traveled around Turkey was more beautiful than the last until I finally decided that I was in love with Turkey. We were on our way to Istanbul to explore the city, check out the sites, and tour the Grand Bazaaar then fly home when I discovered what the media was all about..

We had heard non stop from friends back home who knew we were on our way to Istanbul to “not go” to change our flights, to stay where we were. We had been traveling around and not paying attention to the news or anything for that matter, but our family and friends back home had heard on the news non stop how there were mass riots in Istanbul, huge flights, political war… Danger..

Being a little scared we asked around the locals

and discovered that the people of Turkey were just protesting something to their government with signs and marches around a square, and that there was no violence from the people.

After touring around the city for a few days and not hearing anything negative about these riots we decided to take the metro downtown to see what it was all about. It was, like the locals had said, a peaceful protest where people with mega phones were chanting something, others had signs up, there were live bands, people were selling food and drinks, and it was not scary at all.

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We spent our afternoon there not seeing any violence, no mad yelling, no police brutality, and no… no cars burning or exploding.

Yet back home my parents were glued to the TV screen watching bits and pieces of video put together to display a political war, and to keep fear in people from joining in…

Here we are, putting our entire lives at risk at this extremely scary riot in Istanbul. 

what-the-media-does

Are we really travel savvy ?

How do you not move ?

Swimming with sharks

That time we just dug a huge hole

Backpacking is funny… the things we do while traveling abroad may seem absolutely ridiculous to those back home.

We traveled to the Philippines with a group, expecting to relax and get to know everyone, have a great time.. Nothing surprised me more than one of our “activities” being to “dig a hole” in the sand… Uhm, is this for real !? Manual labour on my HOLIDAY!?

We had a blast..

We had 2 shovels, and at first everyone was like… is this for real? We just wanted to dig this hole and get it over with so we could go back to enjoying ourselves. After a while of taking turns digging (mostly the guys took this over), and getting the drinks flowing, we started to realize this was ALOT of fun!

There were the few that liked to sit in the shade.. throwing shade at those digging. The ones that just wanted to hit the beer bong and that was it. Then the ones that really carried the group and dug the entire hole for us to enjoy. By the end of the activity we were all friends, we had inside jokes, we had broken the drunk barrier, and we had spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in this giant hole on the beach laughing together.

Never write off any experience… it could be the time of your life. 

Is it more fun in the Philippines ?

Is it more fun in the Philippines ?

My completely honest review of the Philippines, based on my personal experience and not meant to offend anyone or deter anyone from drawing their own conclusions.

I was so excited to travel to the Philippines in May 2014.. The only other country I had been to in South East Asia was Thailand and it was absolutely beautiful and amazing. Imagine my surprise when the Philippines was not the same, probably the opposite.

We arrived in Manila to a quite large group of people late at night. Our first night was so much fun, just talking, getting to know each other, and of course cheap booze on our hostel patio. Waking up the next morning was a different story.

Manila is my least favorite place I have ever been, here are my reasons:

  1. I found the city to be extremely dirty, more so than any other city I had ever seen. The smell of sewer was everywhere, the streets flooded every time it rained, and the layout was not ideal.
  2. I did not feel safe. I refused to go anywhere alone like I would in other cities such as Bangkok. The first day I was in Manila myself and a male were in a tuc tuc getting a ride from our hostel to the mall. We had slowed down for a stop light and I looked over at the very busy street to have my eyes met by a local.. I looked at his face for a bit before realizing he was staring at me and touching his fully exposed genitals on the main street. Trying to get into the mall from the tuc tuc we were bombarded by people who had no sense of personal space, they would walk basically on top of you while you were walking away trying to sell you a single pill that they would claim was Viagra, or something else.
  3. When we arrived back in Manila before flying out of the Philippines we were all headed to dinner a few blocks away. It was raining quite heavily and like I said before the streets tended to flood and be filled with garbage and sewer. We were walking down a road that had no one else on it when suddenly a taxi van pulled up beside us, the driver jumped out of the front seat and into the back seat and pulled out a passenger that looked like they had passed out. We thought at first OK maybe it was a drunk local who was causing problems, are puking in the taxi… nope it was a local who was having a seizure in the taxi and instead of helping this man the driver pulled him out and left him in the middle of the road seizing in sewage water.

Aside from Manila the Philippines was not that bad. I had a great time surfing at Cloud 9 in Siargao, we went to multiple beautiful beaches and had a lot of fun experiences.  Overall I found that any beach attached to land where it was maybe a “hot” spot, or a city, was very dirty, so much garbage, compared to say a tourist beach in Thailand. If you traveled out of the main areas to secluded beaches they were absolutely gorgeous… just like all the pictures I had seen and was drawn to check the Country out because of.

I made a mistake in the Philippines as well

which was checking out “cock fights” or “chicken fighting”. I won’t go into detail, but it scarred me forever and I highly suggest not going to this brutal “entertainment”.

The rice terraces in the Philippines were phenomenal and looked just like, if not better than, the photos.

The underground River, which is also considered one of the world wonders, was not so wonderful, very over rated, but a cool experience none the less.

We also discovered that in Philippine tradition they set their deceased out for days for people to see and visit. Which caught me completely by surprise when I was walking down the street one morning for breakfast and there was an open casket with a see through glass dome over top in the middle of the street… I wish someone would have warned me of this sooner, but still an understandable and respectable tradition.

The food was nothing at all to write home about..

I was expecting traditional Philippine food, which I had no idea what that was, but I found fried chicken, and more fried chicken. There was not one thing I had there that I would try to find back home.

But the Karaoke… is something else. THEY LOVE THEIR KARAOKE. so you might as well just join in and enjoy yourself.. make a fool of yourself. They don’t know you anyways. 🙂

My review of the Philippines is that it is beautiful… there are definite reasons to go there and travel around, by no means am I encouraging people to stay away. That being said I have explored it and am content not going back. It differs in my mind from Thailand in major ways and here are my conclusions: Thailand is way more tourist built whereas the Philippines have not got there yet which causes Thailand to maybe have cleaner beaches to attract more people, the locals value the tourists more and seem more friendly because their income is largely based on tourists, one might feel more safe in Thailand because they rely so much on good press and good standing with the backpacking community.

I by no means expect a country to bend to my rules and expectations of them, I enjoy the adventure and going to different places is what life is all about. Although I am happy I had my experiences in the Philippines I feel that it is less my travel “style” than say Turkey (circa 2013), Greece, Nicaragua or Thailand.

That time we just dug a huge hole

I slept with a Rat

 

Can animals smile ?

I often wonder how animals can go their entire lives without laughing.  The greatest moments of life are those can’t stop belly laughs we experience.

I love all animals, especially dogs. In my travels I will pet, and talk to every dog I come across. I go out of my way to pet dogs, standing awkwardly staring at someone’s dog until it either comes over to me or the owner asks if I want to pet them.

But look at this picture, this dog I met and fell in love with in the Philippines… he looks just about as happy to meet me as I was to meet him. That face looks exactly like a smile… does this face show excitement or happiness from dogs? I thought wagging tails and jumping around was a display of happiness.

What do you think ?

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Pets on holidays

The most beautiful beach

I suggest anyone to go to “naked Island” in the Philippines. I mean you can get naked there if you waaaannnnntt, but the name is because the beach is just  sandbar in the middle of the water with no trees or anything on it.

 

Probably the most beautiful beach I have ever been to. Just off Siargao.

Go. Check. It. Out.

bring an umbrella

Massaaaaaagggeee !?

Massages are one of the best parts of traveling, especially in SEA.

In thailand they have the “thai massage”, which will run you about 8-10$ CAD. So worth it!. If you can get over the fact that you are most likely going to be in the same room with numerous other tourists also getting a massage you should be fine. I have had many different massages, some where I had to tell the women to not touch me there, others they just stick to your arms, legs, head and back and you are good. One of my friends had a woman massage her chest… she thought “when in Rome…” ha, JK… THAILAND.

The best way to describe a thai massage is a mix between the chiropractor and a massage therapist. They crack you all around, your back, your toes, fingers, neck, and they also massage all your muscles. These massages are well worth it, especially after hiking or just a time to relax.

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Aloe Vera massages cost a little more, because they use aloe instead of just massage oil, but they are the best after you got too much sun on the beach.

The massages in the Philippines were the same as in Thailand, but less of the “thai” chiropractic massage and more of the muscle/ tissue massage. They also have some places that are very fancy spa like places you would find back home.

I was going to get a Turkish massage, and go for a Turkish bath when I was in Turkey… but I chickened out.. so let me know if you have had one and how it was !

The women in the main picture came to us at the beach and gave us massages… this was in the Philippines. very cool !