Learning to motorcycle in a busy city in the Philippines

One of the cool things about traveling, especially in cheaper places such as South East Asia, is the ability to travel like a local.

Instead of taking constant cabs around town, or walking literally all day, why not be like the locals and rent a motorcycle for the day? We had done this many times before when we traveled, but I had always been on the back of the bike, telling my driver where to go and basically just enjoying the wind in my hair.

In Canada I had been dirt biking before so I figured in the Philippines why not try to ride my own motorcycle? It’s not like it had a clutch or gears I had to master like at home…

I didn’t even make it down the busy street before I walked my motorcycle back to the rental shop, got my money back, and hopped on as a passenger once again.

Asia has organized chaos to their streets. I don’t understand it and may even call it dangerous in my own head, but it is not to them… they understand it! Adding me into the mix of things was not good, I was still trying to get my grips with the bike itself let alot figuring out when to stop, when to go and why these people were passing me on all sides. It was all too much !

If you are in South East Asia and want to try out a bike, then do it ! It is a really fun and cheap way to get around. If you are confident then you will have no problem hopping on and driving around like a local. If you need some practice I would suggest testing the bike out in a less populated area and slowly working your way up. It would be a good idea to not have a passenger on the back of the bike as well if you are not the most confident driver, and of course, helmets! You never know what could happen in these busy streets so it is best to pop on a helmet if you are nervous !

 

I later came home and purchased my own motorcycle (Suzuki S40), and got my motorcycle license ! All in good time ūüôā

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Traveling with a fear of heights & water

How I plan my trips .

Swimming with sharks

Paragliding

What the media does to us

I tattooed the bottom of my feet- Drunk Bamboo tattoo

Are we really travel savvy ?

Take the picture or enjoy

I always wonder if it is appropriate to take the picture.

I travel to explore, for an adventure. Sure taking pictures and uploading them to facebook is great, other people love to hear about your trips and sometimes the pictures help you remember all that you did. I love reminiscing on my trips when I am stuck at work or in a snowstorm and pictures are a great way to do that.

But..

Sometimes you see those people who hiked a huge mountain, or are watching fire works or a show and they insist on taking non stop pictures, and watching the view or performance through a screen. I wonder what those people have as motivation to even go? Can’t you just google a video or picture, do you really need to be there then? Maybe our generation is so enthralled with our phones or camera’s that we don’t even realize we are doing it… we see one thing that is cool and we automatically want to snapchat it.

Then you get to the places like war museums, Auschwitz, Pompeii, places where really horrible things have happened to people like genocide, or being sold as slaves, and you see people taking photos. I understand to a degree, you may want to go home and show people you know will never go what it looks like in Auschwitz. I myself have a photo of my friends and I in Pompeii where they sold the slaves.. I don’t think we planned it at the time “cool, they bought and sold people here.. let’s selfie” I think it was more like “finally we don’t have a crowd around us, let’s take a picture”. But looking back, was that really appropriate?

There was a man who wrote an article and attached photos he found online of young people posing, or taking “profile pictures” in these types of places. He then photo-shopped in the background pictures from history where the Jews were starving to death, skin and bones, with this girl in the front doing a yoga pose. It really surprised people I think. The overall reaction was “how could these kids take those kinds of pictures in a place like that”, but unless he put the historic pictures in the background would you have ever though twice before?

The tourists that pay money to the locals that have a monkey or a snake on their shoulders to hold that animal, take a quick photo then give it back drive me insane. A huge snake, a monkey, all these animals do not want to be held. They are not our photo props, they are wild animals. How do you think they are treated when they are used soley as a pay cheque? They are stolen from the wild, drugged, and forced to be passed around like stuffed animals so that tourists can have a profile picture of them holding a monkey. It’s not right. Again, most people would not even think these things, they would see an opportunity and take it.

Off topic:¬†I am an animal lover, completely. I grew up with dogs and I want to cuddle and hold literally anything that has fur. The biggest lesson I learnt when it came to animals was when I bought a pet rabbit. Rabbits are prey animals that hate being cuddled and held. I had to learn that my rabbit shows me affection way differently than my dog does.. she just wants to be in the same room as me, maybe sit on my lap for a head pet, and that was good enough. We can’t just assume all animals are the same as our household pets.¬†

I have a love hate relationship with electronic devices and I am not sure where I stand all the time on it, I flip and I flop.. But I try to remind myself when I reach for my camera or phone… is this really necessary and appropriate?

Do we travel to take profile pictures ?

These views

Ping Pong shows ‚Äď Travel mistake

Pets on holidays

Are we really travel savvy ?

Can you believe this beach

Getting sick on vacation

I don’t mean the¬† drank too much¬†kind of sickness..

Getting sick on vacation is the best thing in the world ! All the time you spend getting shots, taking medications, bringing medications, and then you get some weird sickness that you have never even heard of before ! Awesome, right!?

I have had my fair share of sickness on holidays from drinking too much and puking (on beaches so that’s paradise), eating too much and puking (I entered an eating contest, at least I won), horrible stomach cramps (probably because I did not want to hike that day… let’s be real), but NOTHING prepared me for this !!

No, this wasn’t an allergy. I know this because I was in a hospital in Thailand being treated for an allergy for many a days and hours. Nothing helped, it only got worse.

I spent the day on a motorcycle, cruising around the town and going to the beach. It was a super hot day out and I was loving it ! In the evening time we went for some drinks and played Uno on our porch. I felt like my forehead skin was a little tight, whenever I would raise my eyebrows it looked like I had a goose egg forehead. I did have a small sunburn, so I figured that must be it. I felt completely normal.

The next morning I wake up and look in the mirror to see this horror…. I looked like Quasi Modo. My forehead had swollen much larger, my one eye was swollen shut (yet I could still see fine… hmmmmm), and I basically look like I took on an entire Muay Thai fighting team and lived. Again, I felt completely normal ! I did not feel sick one bit ! I could breath fine, everything was all good. Wearing sunglasses you could not tell the horror that laid underneath. I went to the hospital and got an IV, I got allergy medications, I got this and that and cream and boom.. nothing worked. So I continued to grace the other tourists with my lovely face for the next 4 days cause I was there to party, not sit in my room.

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After a few days my face started to go down and I never did get sick. I rode it out and nothing has happened since. During this time I was going through a super stressful time (my traveling partner had to go home for an emergency and I had never traveled alone before). After they left and I had a few days too cool down and realize it wasn’t all that bad was when my swollen face started to go down again. I think this was my bodies way of protecting me, making me look like a fool so I was safe… so no one would come near me.

Let’s just hope I never get this stressed out again.

Have you ever gotten sick on vacation?

What the media does to us

 

How I plan my trips .

Here it is, detailed information on how I plan my backpacking trips !

Mine may be very different from how you would book a trip because of many factors. I keep my full time job and I travel the globe within my annual holiday leave… so I don’t really have the ability to travel for long periods of time (anymore… I did when I was younger), and getting lost, because to me that means missing my flight home, or missing out on something I really wanted to see while traveling.

Because I only have a few weeks holidays each year, I try to stick to one Country and completely travel that one place instead of jetting around trying to see everything.

I also like booking my holidays in advance because

  1. I am an organization freak… I love to know exactly when to show up, knowing someone will be there to pick me up, I like having all my bookings in order. I find that I spend tons of time before my trips booking and planning ¬†(which is actually super fun) and then when I arrive on my vacation I just go with the flow and I don’t have to be booking hotels or travel trains while on the fly..
  2. It is cheaper. It’s true that if you just “go with the flow” on traveling around you will be paying more money. I book my rooms and flights and travel well in advance so that I get the best seat, or bed on the night train, and I am not paying an arm and a leg for it. When these companies like hotels or trains see that you are wanting to travel today, they may jack the price up on you, which means less money to spend while there.
  3. I can just enjoy myself knowing I get to go to all the places on my list and see all the amazing things I wanted to see.
  4. I can pay for the trip slowly while I book everything and then by the time I go I just need spending money. I can come home with no debt and start saving for my next adventure.. cause nothing makes you want to travel more than coming home from an awesome trip

Where to go ?

The first thing I decide is, well, where to go !? If you are just getting into the backpacking world you may want to start where everyone goes… Thailand. My moto is that I want to see the entire world so it doesn’t matter if I go to this Country this year, or next, I will still be going… Because I am a young adult starting out in the world on an entry level pay cheque I tend to stick to South East Asia as it is really cheap (and because I also am in love with it !). I will keep the other more expensive Countries for when I am making more money, or more settled in my life.

Destinations

Where to go within a Country is hard… What I do is I usually will look up travel companies online that go to that destination, so for example if I want to go to South Africa I would do tons of research on where to go, where to avoid, and then I will find a company that travels there and they usually have a brief itinerary of where they go on their website with a map. This is so I don’t just bounce North to South to back to the North and oh I missed that place in the South.. I go in a well thought out circle of places. These companies are also good beause they take you to places that you wouldn’t usually think about going, like a national park or a small town that has something amazing in it. I then decide how long I want to stay in each place depending on how much there is to do there, or how much other people in reviews said they liked it.

I will then create my itinerary with very basics:

When I am flying in.

Where I am going in order

How many days I want to stay in each place

different travel options between each place

Where I want to end up to fly back home

Paying for the trip

The thing that bothers me so much is when I invite someone to come traveling with me and they say “I can’t afford it”… I literally went to Thailand for 24 days, got veneers, blew my money away like I was Kylie Jenner and I ended up only spending 5000$ (that would be 2000$ if I didn’t get my teeth done, which you can read about HERE). YOU CAN AFFORD IT, you just don’t want to.

To make my life easier I don’t pay for the trip at once. Like I said above, I like to slowly book my holiday so that I can slowly pay for it so I don’t have debt. It is hard for most people to save up say 2000-3000$ without spending it, and then pay for the trip all at once.. why do you think that these travel companies let you make payments for their trips…

I will start planning like 6 months in advance (which is fun as well because that gives you something to look forward to), so this is most likely right after I return from a previous trip. I will give myself a budget per month, so I will say OK this month I will pay for my main flights, next month I will give myself 300$, and I will start booking until I hit my 300$ and then wait to continue booking till the next month. I also like paying for as much as I possibly can before arriving, so if a hostel tells me I only need to pay a deposit, or just for the first night, I will ask to pay the entire amount so that I don’t have to carry around as much cash when I arrive, and I know that all the cash I have is for me to spend freely… I don’t need to budget to pay for my next room.

I put everything I can on my master card because I get cashback. Also awesome if you get points or have a travel reward Credit Card because you can use your travel expenses to pay for your next trip! This also gives you a month to pay off this portion of your trip (so for me my MasterCard billing cycle ends on the 12th of the month, so I will spend my budget for that month up until the 11th, then I will continue with my next month budget on the 12th.. I do this because once you get into looking and finding cool places to stay you want to keep booking things, you don’t want to wait! )

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Finding Flights

After I have made my skeleton itinerary I will decide when I want to fly in. Flights are usually cheapest when you clear your computer history and cache cookies (no clue what that means but just clear your history) because once your computer catches onto you looking up flights the prices may go up… Booking flights during the week like a Tuesday afternoon are usually cheaper as well, who knows why. Flying days are also cheaper on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday as well because most people like to travel on the weekends.

I will google : Destination to Destination (ex: Calgary to Bangkok) and I will look through sites like cheapflights.com or kayak.com, while deleting my history every once in a while. I will keep a list of how long the flights are and how much they cost in a spreadsheet. I will keep watching these flights for quite some time before actually booking them. Flights are usually cheapest about 40 days before you want to depart but I have watched flights before and got killer prices like months in advance. When I see a really low price for a flight that has the least amount of fly time I will book it. No waiting when you want a good price !

Inner flights or other travel

Once I have my main flights booked I am good to start booking the rest of my trip ! I will go back to my skeleton itinerary and fill in my new flight information, I will then start booking my trip in the order I will be traveling. I do this so that if a train doesn’t go on a certain day of the week that I need to travel to the next place, I can just adjust my itinerary and not have to cancel or extend previous rooms.

When traveling larger or more spread out Countries like Thailand or Vietnam I like to look at trains, buses and flights. With such a short period of time for me to be traveling around I might pay the extra few dollars (literally like 5$ difference sometimes in Asia) to take a flight instead of sitting on a train for 18 hours. The inner flights in these Countries range from 40-150$ CAD which is super cheap ! The only thing with this is you need to be prepared with your luggage on what to check under the plane and what to bring on, you have to keep your bag flight ready during your holiday.

I do enjoy taking the night train in these places as well, they range from 50-100$ CAD and are a lot of fun. I enjoy these because you travel while you sleep instead of losing an entire day you could be enjoying sitting on a train. They are also very luxurious trains if you buy the beds instead of the chairs and its a great way to see a ton of the Country instead of just flying everywhere. I also really like the trains because if I want to travel to one destination to go Scuba Diving but I only want to be there for 1-2 days, I might fly in and then take the train out (to avoid the decompression chamber!)

The local buses are also a good way to get around. They are super cheap sometimes less than 1$ to get from one end of town to the other. The locals on the trains are also very helpful if you are not sure what bus to get on or when to get off. I tend to carry around a card of my hotel or hostel with me so I can easily ask anyone while pointing to the address, in case they don’t speak English.

When to go

I always book my vacations around the same time every year because that’s when school is done (for my traveling partners) and that’s when there is a lull in my job. But I would check where you want to go and what the weather is there before booking a trip. You may end up traveling in typhoon season, or rainy season which might put a damper in your plans.

Booking rooms

Once I have my main flights booked, and most of my inner travel like my trains, buses, and flights, I will start going through the places I want to stay. In areas like Asia where the cabs or getting around is cheap I don’t really care where I stay. In other Countries where the cabs might be expensive I would either stay close to the train station or airport, or I would find a place in the heart of the action so I could explore around without paying for expensive cabs.

I google “Ho chi Minh hotel or hostel” and just start looking at prices, reviews, and what is included (breakfast, free shuttle pickup). I also ask the people I am traveling with to look as well and usually we book the places they choose.

Things to do

In my itinerary I will also leave a section for “things to do”.When I am researching I may find this museum is amazing, or this is the best beach in this town, I can then write this down in that City spot and when we arrive there we are not looking for things to do, we already have a list of possible adventures to go on. I also write down the hours of operation for some things such as “Asia Park” in Vietnam is only open from 3 pm – 10 pm, so we don’t plan to wake up early on day to go and find out it is closed. I also put down how much something costs so we can budget our money, or know how much to take out at the ATM.

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Visa

Visa are different for every Country so I would just google whether the Country you live in needs a visa for the Country you want to visit. Most of the time you can just buy the visa online or upon arrival. This is something I would absolutely look into for every Country you go to as you might be denied entry if you didn’t get an approval letter or a stamp in your passport. The prices for each visa are different so again, just google it or read other people’s online threads.

Thailand night train- 1st and 2nd class

Are we really travel savvy ?

How do you not move ?

Booking vacations for yourself is actually super fun, I don’t see it as work. I get the joy of booking places and flights and putting together my itinerary for months prior to my trip and then I get to go and enjoy myself.

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Living in the jungle

It just makes you feel like Tarzan and Jane…

We stayed in these jungle houses in Khao Sok National Park in Thailand. We were surrounded by trees and mountains, exactly like a Jungle atmosphere. This was a very cool experience, living up in tree houses, and walking around on high up bridges to get from room to room. The rooms were sealed fairly well with a sliding glass door.

There was only one spot where any jungle creatures could get in… and that was the open hole in the bathroom floor for the shower water to drain out. There were numerous different animals and bugs in this jungle than we had seen anywhere else ! The worst for me was going into my shower and not noticing until half way through that there was snake skin hanging from the ceiling right above my head !

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I was convinced after that that we had a snake in our roof and I went into my room to sleep after that.. I kept my bag zipped all the way up !

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Thailand night train- 1st and 2nd class

I love the night train !

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I can only speak on the night Train in Thailand as I have not tried the one in Vietnam yet ! But I have been to Thailand twice, taking both 1st and 2nd class on the night train.

The first time I went we were in a big group, so we took the 2nd class bunks. These were not bad ! I think tickets were around 30$ CAD and when you boarded you had 2 benches facing eachother with seat numbers on them. The workers will come and punch a hole in your ticket, making sure you have the correct seat. You are allowed to bring food and drinks on the train (I think… we did), but not alcohol (we snuck it on and took our cans with us when we left). They also sell food like breakfast and drinks on the train, but it is super expensive and to me it was not worth it.

2nd class:

After the train starts moving, workers will come down the train carts and set up the beds for everyone. Your bench seats will be become bunk beds where you have only a curtain separating your bed from the “hallway”. ¬†Outside your bunk is where you have spots to put your travel bags. This was not so bad for us because we knew the majority of the people in our cart on the train, so we did not have to worry about waking up to our things being stolen (it’s right outside the curtain though so you COULD hear it if someone were stealing your stuff). The bottom bunk is where it is at because the top bunk is right beside the fan or A/C machine. You only get one blanket so being on the top bunk is a bit freezing.

The bathrooms in the 2nd class are pretty dirty, having only a squatter toilet… which sucks when you are drinking on the train, and then it is also moving, and you’re used to your porcelain¬†throne from back home.

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1st class:

The first class is what I would use again if I went on the night train. I think tickets were around 65$ CAD each and it was 2 people to a “room”. You go on the train and you have 2 choices of bathrooms, which was nice; one was an actual toilet, and the other was a squatter (which is all they had in 2nd class). The rooms were really small but you had an area to put somethings, like your bags, a small sink with a small mirror and then a bench seat that the workers would come and make into bunk beds. I liked this way of traveling more than 2nd class because you had a door that could lock and it made me feel more secure. We also were traveling with another couple and our rooms were right beside each other with a door in the middle that you could lock or open up.

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The best part of the night train is getting to watch your journey out your window. It is such a cool way to travel and see tons without wasting too much time. I loved waking up in the morning, opening my window curtain and watching the trees and cities go by.I highly recommend trying it! I am very excited to travel on the Vietnam night train this May.

Swimming with sharks

With all the shark attacks I have been reading about lately…

Sharks are scary to most people, they are huge, they swim at lightning speed, they have huge mouths with tons of teeth, and they appear out of what seems like thin air (but the water version…)

Most of the time that I have been in and around the ocean I never even thought about these creatures to be honest. The locals don’t worry about the sharks, and some will even tell you that they have sharks that don’t eat people.. I believe them ! Or else I would be sitting on the beach, scared to get my toes wet.

My first encounter with a shark was in Thailand, at Koh Lipe. This was near the end of our trip and I had heard numerous times that Thailand doesn’t have sharks, or they are not a threat there. We were on this beautiful little island called Koh Lipe, with an amazing beach. The locals had offered to take us out in a long tail boat so we could go snorkeling further from the shore, of course we agreed! The local we had driving the boat didn’t speak much English, so when he started yelling and laughing and pointing to the water when we were about to jump in, I was a little nervous.

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We looked down and saw this shark, longer than our boat, swim right underneath us.

We later had it explained that this was most likely a whale shark and that they don’t eat people. All I could think was that shark could have easily eaten our boat, he could have accidentally eaten a little old tourist snorkeling by accident!

We still jumped off the boat and snorkeled around for a bit, not getting attacked, or even seeing another shark for that matter. I still stayed close to the boat, thinking I could out swim and jump on faster than any shark could swim to me…. wishful thinking.

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When we were in the Philippines we also saw many thrasher sharks. We had been told, especially around Malapascua, that there were many thrasher sharks around. I wasn’t one to go scuba diving at the time so I did not see any sharks until we were taking a boat out to a smaller island for a day trip, having our feet hanging off the edge of the boat, when we saw a huge fin sticking out of the water quite a ways away from us. I lifted my feet faster than the speed of light, but he didn’t bother us.

I don’t know the answer to the shark question… I have lived on a pirate ship for a few days sailing the Mediterranean Sea, jumping off the boat in the morning and night to swim around. I have snorkeled, swam, gone cliff jumping, in many oceans and have never seen or heard of an attack. I think it’s like anything, something COULD happen to you, but will you let that scare you from enjoying yourself?

If there is a shark warning sign… my advise is to not enjoy yourself that day.. not in the water at least.

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Maybe one day I will brave the Great White shark cage diving in South Africa.

What the media does to us

Are we really travel savvy ?