North America » Canada January 12th 2016

So as I promised, I am doing a recap of my packing list so I can learn from my travels and maybe others can learn too. A lot of these things are just personal preferences, and may be limited to this particular trip, but I think any trip I take in the future to warm tropical climates would probably result in a similar list. Main items Rubber flip flops Pink runners Beige slip on sandals Toms slip on shoes Purple 40L Patagonia carry-on sized backpack – loved it! 4 larger mesh packing cubes 3 small mesh packing bags Green over the shoulder purse Red daypack Dry bag From this category I wouldn’t bring the slip on fancy sandals I had packed. I didn’t use them at all, and while they didn’t take up a lot of ... read more

North America » Canada » British Columbia » Whistler December 30th 2015

I had an easy flight from Manila to Vancouver with a stopover in Guangzhou (where I went a little overboard with the duty free!). I was lucky enough to get the emergency exit row from Guangzhou to Vancouver - which gave me unlimited leg room - and I also didn't have anybody sit in my row with me! I was able to stretch out across all 3 seats and use all the little tables etc. I only had a few short naps though so was pretty tired when I landed around 8:30 am Vancouver time. My plane landed an hour early and I found my Dad there waiting to welcome me back. The weather was pretty chilly in Vancouver so I had every stitch of my warm clothing on (I had put it on in Manila), ... read more
This is the coldest beach I've ever seen!
Amazing ski day in Whistler
My nieces enjoying the snow

Asia » Philippines December 20th 2015

I arrived in Coron on the heels of the typhoon and due to the stormy weather there hadn't been any diving for a few days. The coast guard here is quite strict and won't allow boats out in certain areas when the weather is challenging. The day I arrived in Coron they had planned to run some dives the next day for the first time in a few days - but no wrecks. Coron is famous for a whole bunch of Japanese wrecks from World War 2 that were sunk in a huge American bombing run in 1944. Anyways, I signed up to do the non-wreck dives that were scheduled and went the next day to two beautiful reefs and a freshwater/saltwater lake where the salt water layer - which was lower - was 38˚C! Needless ... read more
Enjoying my dive boat time
Chugging some orange pop in between dives!
Stilt houses in the Coron harbour

Asia » Philippines » Palawan » El Nido December 16th 2015

I had a really laid back day in Manila relaxing by the pool and sleeping in an incredibly comfortable bed. I had a very early morning flight to Puerto Princessa in Palawan then caught a bus straight to El Nido as soon as I got off the plane. It was a nice ride across a beautiful island. I arrived in El Nido mid afternoon and settled in. There were a few Finnish guys staying at the same place that I checked in to so we hung out at our beachfront cottages having some beers and watching the sun set. We met a Croatian couple who joined us for a really nice seafood dinner and then had more beers at the beach bar. We also found a local gambling establishment with some really fun games. I came ... read more
Local gambling and beers with the Fins and Croatians
Enjoying some serious beach time
Palawan sunset

Asia » Philippines December 6th 2015

I landed in Manila safe and sound but didn't get to my hostel until fairly late. The traffic in Manila is totally nuts. It's not that they are crazier drivers than anywhere else I've been (just as crazy), it's that there's just so many people and not enough road! Everything is locked into inching gridlock... I spent one night at the hostel and an entire day wandering around Manila before jumping on a night bus to the North Lauzon area - to Banaue to be specific. Manila was interesting, I stayed in a more tourist/backpacker sort of area but it still had a weird vibe. Most people at my hostel didn't leave it and I honestly didn't see a lot of tourists wandering around. It gave me a strange feeling that I haven't experienced in any ... read more
Viewpoint overlooking the rice terraces near Banaue
The valley looking out on the rice terraces
Hot springs in Banaue

Asia November 30th 2015

I left Ubud and headed down to Sanur for a few days. Mom and Dad were on a cruise for 12 days and their first stop was in Bali! We had arranged to meet up and spend a day together. So I coordinated a private car for the day and picked them up at the cruise ship terminal. We drove to see Uluwatu which is a big temple on some high cliffs overlooking the Indian ocean. It was an incredible view and we took some beautiful pictures. Next we stopped in at Jimbaran beach where we relaxed on some nice beach chairs with a few beers for the afternoon - and tested the waves! The water was a great temperature but the waves were pretty strong. Still a nice time, and I managed to fill my ... read more
Mom and Dad at Uluwatu
Dad and I pounding fresh coconut water
The beach on Nusa Lembongan

Asia » Indonesia » Bali » Ubud November 24th 2015

Since I last updated my blog I've been up to a lot of fun stuff! My dive trip was great, it was just a day trip with two dives, there was only me diving with the one dive master (the rest of the people on the boat were snorkelling) so I was able to have him spend some time refreshing things with me (it had been almost 9 years since I last went diving!). I didn't have to memorize all the dive tables and depth calculations all over again luckily! But I did get a refresher on equipment and did jyst fine (took me a bit to get the right buoyancy and to breathe and swim calmly though). They were both drift dives along the side of a big drop off, so it was an easy ... read more
Happy diving day!
Sunset in Lovina
Sekumpol waterfalls

Asia » Indonesia » Java » Mount Bromo November 20th 2015

I caught an early morning train from Yogyakarta yo to Probolinggo which is the town closest to Mount Bromo. I was so happy to be in a train (and it was the regular economy train too - nothing fancy!) as opposed to another bus that I didn't even care when the Indinesian lady across from me put her bare dirty feet on the seat beside me. It was a 9-hour trip through small villages and rice paddies and I listened to the entire Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets book on audio book during the trip. It was very pleasant and I would certainly choose to ride the train over the buses here any day! I was picked up at the train station in Probolinggo with a couple from Poland and two girls from Singapore. ... read more
Mt Bromo at sunrise
The locals give tourists horseback rides up the crater at Mt Bromo
Mt Ijen crater and lake

Asia November 17th 2015

My last day in Pangandaran was more fun than I thought. It didn't rain much past early morning and the lady who ran the guesthouse said I didn't have to check out at noon - I could stay until my bus left at 6:30. So I decided to rent a motorbike. It was a daily rental so I scootered around the whole town. I was very noticeable. I wasn't wearing anything crazy revealing and it was a hot day so many people were also in shorts and tshirts (which is a bit unusual since Java is fairly Muslim and most women wear head coverings of some kind) - but I stuck out like a sore thumb. Everyone stared at me, some people actually took photos of me. Many people were just friendly and wanted to say ... read more
Beach time in Pangandaran
Beautiful guesthouse pool in Yogyakarta
Borobudur Buddhist temple

Asia » Indonesia » Java » Pangandaran November 15th 2015

My plane landed safely in Cijulang on a tiny runway carved out of the jungle. I had nothing planned except to survive the flight and figured I would be able to find my way to Pangandaran from there (about an hour drive away). So I asked the guys who worked there about a cab or a local bus and they just said no and laughed. Lucky for me though, they let me ride along in the van that belonged to the airline that was taking packages and the pilots on to Pangandaran for a small fee. Score! The guy driving the van dropped me off at this awesome beach bar - I had a beer and chatted with the owner who also owned a guest house (hostel). I took a room there and dropped off my ... read more
Half grown fruit bat
The Green Canyon

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