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Internship blogging

23 Mar

Melissa To and Fro BloggingRyerson University‘s Master of Professional Communication requires all candidates to complete an industry internship. It’s one of the main components that persuaded me to apply for the program. I feel really lucky to have such a great internship position. Since early January, I’ve been interning with Siren Communications, public relations agency extraordinaire. Most of Siren’s clients fall into the ‘travel & tourism’ sector, which is ideal for yours truly. One of my many tasks is blogging and I thought I’d share two of my recent travel tips/advice posts:

Interested in learning the ‘highs and lows’ of Thailand’s crazy capital? Check out: Citified: Bangkok

Need travel advice about Peru’s Inca capital? Check out: Vacation Notes: Cuzco

Have any of your own tips about Bangkok or Cuzco? Leave a comment! =)

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FOMO

23 Aug

Fear of missing out.

Simple enough…

A few days ago, I saw this….

FOMO

It wasn’t the first time I heard about FOMO. When I volunteered in Peru, my housemates threw this 4-letter acronym around a lot. I disagree with the article that FOMO is about the internet. It’s so much more than that – it’s about real life debauchery and seizing the moment. Continue reading

Settled in the homeland – for now!

3 Dec

I thought I would write a little something after settling into my temporary home here in Toronto. It’s weird to think I’ve already been in Canada for  3 weeks now. Time flies… When I look back, I can’t even believe I was in South America. It feels like a strange dream – as if it never even happened and I’m transplanted back to my regular life. Funny how that works.

The last few weeks, I have been living at Kyle’s apartment in Toronto, working at Gap (barf!) and applying for graduate school. Throw in a bunch of doggie walks, coffee dates and family visits and I’ve been one busy gal. Continue reading

No more 20+ hour bus rides!

13 Nov

WOW. It was one interesting and very LONG journey, but we are finally back in Lima, Peru. The 2500 Km journey up the Pacific coast was painful, but we managed. We took a 4 hour flight that had 2 stops all the way up to Arica, in Northern Chile. I’ve never been on a plane that landed and took off three times before – let alone in just 4 hours, so that was an experience.

Once we got into Arica, we took a shuttle to our hostel and slept for 8 hours, ate breakfast and caught another taxi to the international bus station. When we got out of the taxi, there were a bunch of men asking us if we wanted to go to Tacna. It’s really common to take a shared taxi with strangers across the border, so we got the best price and Stef and I squeezed into a car with 3 other people plus the driver. Not particularly comfortable, but it only took 1.5 hours to drive to Tacna and the border crossing went smoother than if we were in a bus. Continue reading

Ciao Argentina, Hello again Chile!

10 Nov

Mendoza, Argentina Vineyard

I haven’t realized how long it’s been since posting. In the last week, Stefanie and I have taken one 18 hour bus ride, drank too much red wine, took another 7 hour bus ride, crossed the border into Chile, explored Santiago, met up with some friends from Peru and booked a flight to Northern Chile. I’ll start from the beginning… Continue reading

Kayaking, Horseback Riding, Hiking – oh my!

3 Nov

Kayaking in Bariloche

I love Bariloche, Argentina! It is so beautiful! So, I mentioned in the last post that we booked a kayak and horseback riding tour – the verdict? AMAZING! The guide picked us up at the hostel and brought us to a cute log cabin on the lake where we enjoyed a second breakfast.

Kayaking was first on the roster. We had double kayaks and they gave us a brief lesson – I was really excited because the water was crystal clear and sparkling. We had to wear the neoprene skirt over the kayak because the water was freezing. It felt like the kayak and I were bonded together. Stefanie got stuck in the back and I was up in front. She had to maneuver the little rudder which I was thankful for because I wouldn’t have been able to paddle AND steer. We managed pretty well. Our paddling was in rhythm and we were going pretty fast at some points but then we had to take a break. It was exhausting! Kayaking  works out your arms, shoulders and back. I am still sore and this was two days ago! Despite being a little reluctant, I was so happy I decided to try it. Continue reading

Buenos Aires – the Paris/Big Apple of South America!

30 Oct

Biking riding in Buenos Aires

B.A. – B.A. – B.A.! What a fun city!

We arrived in Buenos Aires on a Saturday, which was perfect considering we wanted to enjoy some of the nightlife. We met our English friend Adam at the hostel and decided to spend the afternoon in the parks of Palermo – an upscale neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.

There were so many people jogging, strolling and rollerblading throughout the park. Surprisingly, there were so many people ‘trick’ rollerblading. The stunts were so entertaining to watch. Jumping, one legged, backwards, twists, etc. So cool! We were watching for a bit while we ate delicious street sausages called Chorizos. For dessert, I bought the biggest cotton candy stick EVER! It was practically the size of my upper body. I have picture proof. Continue reading

Iguazu Falls, Argentina

22 Oct

Iguazu Falls, Argentina

Hola from Iguazu Falls. Yesterday, Stef and I spent the entire day in Iguazu National Park and it was incredible! We arrived at the park before 9am and paid the 85 pesos entrance fee. Locals in the area are allowed to enter the park free of charge. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had something like that in Canada? Continue reading

Salar de Uyuni, Atacama Desert and Euro-Style.

20 Oct

I am finally HEALTHY!

It was awful being sick for 3 days, especially since I was scheduled for a 3 day Salt Flat tour, but everything turned out great. We met Sebastian, a 26 year old German physicist in Potosi, Bolivia and have been traveling for over a week before separating two days ago. The three of us went on the Salar de Uyuni tour, which boasted some amazing landscapes. There was a large group, so we had to go in two different jeeps. Stef, Sebastian and I ended up in a jeep with 4 sick Koreans and the other jeep had three Belgians and two drunk Aussies.

Our first day involved driving across the Salar, which is approximately 12000 square KM. Bolivian workers make 1bs. (less than 20 cents) per each salt pile they scrape… and these salt piles are quite large. They aim for 50 piles a day. It’s outrageous. Very few people in Canada would ever do that kind of manual labour. Continue reading

Traversing Bolivia

12 Oct

Sorry about not updating – lack of internet, horrible connections, and the fact that I have been utterly sick for the past three days. But, here is my attempt at a lovely recap….

My last day in La Paz was rushed. I wanted to do some last minute shopping and then ship a package home before catching a night bus to Sucre, Bolivia. Everything in South America is SLOW, so of course I got held up at the post office which was unnerving since I was already pressed for time. In the end, it cost me $45 to send 5 kg worth of Bolivian goodies and I made it to the bus station with 5 minutes to spare. Funny enough, everything is on South American time, so our bus was 45 minutes delayed. I guess there was no need to rush after all. Continue reading

La Paz, Bolivia & the Amazon!

6 Oct

The bus ride from Cusco, Peru to La Paz, Bolivia went a lot smoother than I thought it would be. We left Cusco at 10:00pm and were surprised to learn that there were actually two different buses going to La Paz. The bus we booked would cross into Bolivia through Puno, while the 10:30pm bus would go through a sketchier crossing, but is much faster. I decided to just stick with our original, safer route.

I arrived in Puno, Peru around 4:00am and had to wait in a freezing cold station for one hour until our next bus. Not so fun. It only took 2 hours to arrive at the hectic Peru/Bolivia border crossing. The bus driver told everyone to get off the bus and receive our exit stamps from Peru and then we had to walk across a congested bridge to Bolivia, packed with locals and tuk tuks. Everybody was scurrying across, trucking loads of goods across the border. It was an interesting sight. Once across, we walked into the Bolivian immigration building and received our entry and visa stamps. Lucky for us Canadians, we didn’t have to pay the $130USD dollars like our American counterparts. Continue reading

Inca Trail, Peru

27 Sep

Stefanie and I at Machu Picchu

I have never done anything so difficult and physically tiring in my life! Three months after first booking, Stefanie and I finally started the trek to Machu Picchu along the infamous Inca Trail.

We left early Thursday morning with a group of 16 hikers, 2 guides, 1 chef and 18 porters. Quite the team! We booked with the company Llama Path, a sustainable tourism operator. We researched quite a bit beforehand and decided that they seemed like the best fit. It was a little pricey, but overall I am very satisfied with the tour. The guides were knowledgeable and entertaining and the porters had adequate equipment and proper hiking shoes, which is more than I can say about the other porters on the trail. I saw some porters who had only broken sandals to hike in and plastic rice bags to carry supplies.

Stefanie and I were too late to book an extra porter to carry our clothes, sleeping bags and mats, so we had no other choice but to carry it ourselves. I was not thrilled. The guides gave us walking sticks and helped us attach the 3kg of sleeping gear to our day packs…. not an easy feat. We took a group photo at the first checkpoint and set off on the trail. Continue reading

Lake Titicaca, Peru

21 Sep

Reed Boat on Uros Island

Now that I have some free time, here is a glimpse into our weekend trip to Lake Titicaca

After the whole ordeal last Friday, it was nice to get away for a bit. A bunch of the girls from our volunteer house booked a weekend trip to the world’s highest lake in the world, Lake Titicaca, which divides Bolivia and Peru.

At 9:30pm, 8 of us boarded a night bus to Puno, Peru, the starting point of our adventure. We arrived in Puno at 4am and took a taxi to our hotel for a quick nap and hot shower. After breakfast, our guide picked us up and drove us to the dock where we met our captain and island guide. Our first stop was the Uros islands. Continue reading

Do not go ATVing in a foreign country

20 Sep

This past weekend has been a whirlwind of emotions. Friday, five of us from the volunteer house decided to go ATVing in the mountains of Cusco, Peru. I have never been on an ATV and I was a little apprehensive, but decided to go anyways. Probably from FOMO, a new term I learned from my fellow housemates…. FEAR OF MISSING OUT.

When we arrived at the ATV location, we were each given an ATV and shown how to maneuver the beasts. After 10 minutes of practice, the guides gave us these documents to sign detailing that if anything happened to the ATV, we were responsible for the damages… hmm. It took me 10 minutes to decide whether to sign. It sounded a little strange – so I bombarded the guides with questions and after everyone had already signed and were waiting on me, I signed (my savings account) away and we hit the trail. Continue reading

Caminar Falso in Pisaq, Peru

17 Sep
Pisaq, Peru Terraces Ruins

Pisaq Terraces

Sorry for not updating, I have been so busy volunteering in Cusco. Last Sunday, I went to a little town outside of Cusco, called Pisaq. I went with Stefanie and two girls from our volunteer house. We weren’t really sure of our game plan once we got there. An ex-housemate of ours had said there was a nice hike where you could see some old ruins without having to pay to get inside the official area. There is also a large handicraft market in Pisaq that we wanted to check out at the end.

Once we arrived into Pisaq, we trotted along ‘taxi alley’ to see how much it would cost to take us to the start of the hike. The unanimous answer: 5 soles each ($2) plus another 40 soles just to get into the ruins. There was no such thing as this ‘free hike’ besides walking along the side of the road and catching a glimpse of the Inca terraces, which were used for agriculture. Basically, we’d miss all the fun stuff if we didn’t enter the official ruins.

We kindly said ‘no thank you’ to the taxi driver and walked away trying to think of a new plan. About 2 minutes later, the driver pulled up near us and claimed it was possible he could get us pass the control point without paying. Now, before you all freak out, it was much less dangerous than it seems. Essentially, the taxi driver took us up the road and asked if one of the local children could show us the way. Unfortunately, none of them did but they did point us in the right direction – a man named Ciro. Continue reading

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