Tag Archives: canada

Hilarious Travel Planning Memories with a side of Budget Travel Tips

13 Aug

A lot of people ask me how I afford such a pricey (MYTH!) travel endeavor. Listen folks, travel isn’t that expensive. Trust me! In fact, I definitely spend more money living in Canada for three months than traveling for the same amount of time in a faraway destination. You do need money upfront, which involves some saving, but it doesn’t have to stop you from doing fun things with friends or forcing you to live in a cardboard box. Long term travel is quite affordable. You just need to reflect on a few unnecessary items and lifestyle choices. For example, I decided to sell my car to fund my South East Asia trip. It might sound a little ridiculous to some people, but I was moving to the big city after traveling and I didn’t need a car anymore. Cars are luxury money holes. Reflecting on how to fund travel helps put life into perspective and your priorities in check.

Long term travel is a bit different. It requires you to cut a few strings. One way I can afford going on a 6 month adventure is by giving up my lovely studio apartment in Toronto. I’m moving out of my humble abode and moving back in with my family (cringe…..). But hey, every budget traveller needs to make sacrifices, even if they are a tad embarrassing. I could have found a subletter, but I wanted to be free from the shackles of my modern, cosmopolitan life. Sounds a little dramatic, eh? I simply didn’t want to worry about an apartment back home and a stranger doing unmentionable activities on my bed. You get the drift.

There’s a point to this little story….

While rummaging through my book shelf, I found an old notebook my travel partner/best friend and I used to jot down travel ideas and inspirations. Between the pages, I stumbled upon a hilarious doodle from over two years ago. Check it out! Continue reading

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Montreal Weekend Mini-Guide and Osheaga 2012 Wrap-Up

8 Aug

My Osheaga 2012 experience in beautiful Montreal, Quebec was a musical, foodie and party success and thanks to the amazing festival schedule, I was able to skip out in the mornings and after the last set to explore some of Montreal’s best hotspots. With so many world-renowned and much loved festivals hosted in Montreal (Just For Laughs, International Jazz Festival, Pop Montreal, etc.), it’s easy for festival-goers to forget that there’s a slew of hidden gems beyond festival gates worthy of exploration. Here is the Osheaga 2012 wrap-up complete with a weekend guide to make the most of your next Montreal getaway… on a budget of course!

Osheaga Music Festival

Osheaga Arts and Music Festival 2012

Osheaga Music Festival

hillside at Osheaga

The Festival
I spent all three days at Parc Jean-Drapeau meandering my way through the crowds to catch my favourite bands. I twisted and shouted to an envy-inducing roster, including FUN., Of Monsters and Men, Franz Ferdinand, Florence + the Machine, Justice, Young the Giant, Brand New, Little Dragon, Adventure Club, Passion Pit, Santigold, Bloc Party, M83 and Keys n Krates. I also caught the tail end of few others including the Shins, The Weeknd, Sigur Ros and Knife Party. Phew, that was a long list! While most people are talking about the headliners, I actually enjoyed the smaller sets the best and I was pleasantly surprised by a few of my high school day favourites. Oh, nostalgia! Continue reading

The Osheaga Music and Arts Festival SURVIVAL KIT

1 Aug

Osheaga Music Festival

Over 90 talented bands and musicians from around the globe are convening in Canada’s cultural mecca –  Montreal, Quebec – for the 3 day Osheaga Music and Arts festival from August 3-5th, 2012. It’s Canada’s best music festival and this year, I’m lucky enough to go! Yours truly will be boarding a bus from downtown Toronto and enduring the 6 hour journey to one of our nation’s most beautiful and unique cities. Click HERE for the complete line-up.

Like any trip you take, every festival goer needs to come prepared with a few essentials. I’ve compiled the ultimate 2012 Osheaga Survival Kit to ensure you have the most memorable, safe and entertaining weekend. Continue reading

Adventure starts near home

30 Jul

I escaped the skyscrapers and traffic for something a little different this past weekend – a 2-night trip to the lake. Just a short 2.5 hours drive from the bustling cosmopolitan city of Toronto lies Corunna, a tiny town near Sarnia, Ontario. I stayed with family in a beautiful house with backyard river access to Lake St. Clair and it was easy to forget that only a few short kilometres away lies Chemical Valley. You can’t help but notice the interesting juxtaposition.

Lake St. Clair, Ontario Canada

The view from the house – Lake St. Clair

Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Today

9 Jun

This week’s photo challenge is called TODAY. Now, the only rule about this week’s photo is that it had to be taken and published that same day. I’m a bit of a cheater, but all in due cause. I had an extremely late night dancing to old hip hop and r&b with some fabulous people at Levack Block, a Toronto bar located at Queen St. & Ossington Ave.

But all’s well, that ends well and here is my photo for this week’s TODAY theme… Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Summer

29 May

I’ve decided to participate in the wordpress weekly photo challenge *crowd cheers!

Here’s how it works…
Each week, wordpress provides a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced.

The intent is to take a new photograph, but I’m going to do things a little differently and instead post old photos from my travels (Canada and international) as well. This summer is lacking in travel trips because of a future jaunt in the fall. More on that to come, but it rhymes with ‘regalia’. ha! This means, however, that I have some space to fill in my travel blog and reliving some of my favourite travel memories sounds like the perfect thing to do!

So here it is …. SUMMER Continue reading

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! =)

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

99 problems, but a blog ain’t one.

10 Jun

I have neglected this blog for quite some time. I’ve been a little busy, to say the least. Thankfully, there have been some major developments in my personal and travel life (i.e. lots of goodies to share!).

I’ve been slowly settling down in Canada. I must admit, it was difficult managing my ‘regular’ life after coming home from Southeast Asia. As time passed, I was feeling 10x more comfortable knowing that I’ll be settling Toronto – *was* being the key word. All of a sudden, a few challenges sprung up and I’ve spent the last month trying to reorganize my so-called ‘regular’ life. Continue reading

Booking flights… but not for myself (how depressing!)

5 May

I just want to cry when I log onto Orbitz or Expedia.

Lately, I’ve been back to my ol’ researching self, trying to find a decent flight from London(UK) to Toronto. Unfortunately, the flight is NOT for me – although I wouldn’t mind a Spring tour of England. The flight is for Stefanie. You may recall our final days in Bangkok when Stefanie’s passport and wallet were stolen, so as the rules of best friendship prescribe: I need to book Stef’s flight back to the homeland using my credit card. yay. Continue reading

Losing Everything

16 Mar

So, as I mentioned in my last post, when Stefanie and I checked into our Bangkok hostel, we realized something was missing…

Stef lost her notebook. The infamous notebook had her ENTIRE life in it – travel life that is. She lost her passport, money, cards, etc. We called the hostel in Chiang Mai, who contacted the bus company. Our reception talked some guy on the phone who said they found a Canadian girl’s passport on the bus and some other stuff – perfect!!!! They gave Stef the address and she went to pick it up, while I waited at the hostel.

After two hours, I knew something was wrong. The reception called the travel office where Stef was supposed to pick up her stuff and now they were denying finding anything. Strange…. Continue reading

Running out of time

15 Mar

My last week in South East Asia was jam packed. I tried to fit in as many activities as possible, as I realized we hardly did a thing. To some of you, that may seem absurd. I mean, yes I did loads but in comparison to South America, Stefanie and I pretty much chilled the entire time in Asia.

So, in Luang Prabang, Laos – we visited a waterfall and hiked up a hill. Yes, hiking!! It was a lousy 10 minute hike, but ridiculously steep. I realized how out of shape I am. Then, it was back to Thailand. We had only had a few short days before heading back to Canada.

Stefanie and I met up with Adam, the Canadian and Scott, from Manchester. It’s funny how you see the same people again – we really need to pick a road less traveled next time. We stayed at this dingy, but friendly hostel. We had 4 single beds, all aligned with each other along the one wall. You could roll from one bed to the other in one swift action. We were that close – but thankfully, we’re all friends. Continue reading

Saigon – Da Lat – Nha Trang

13 Feb
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam traffic

Chaos in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

As I mentioned in my last post, we stayed in Ho Chi Minh City during the Vietnamese New Year called Tet. Because there were so many places closed, we decided to spend our last day in HCMC at the waterpark. We expected the park to be busy – but when we arrived I couldn’t believe the swarms of people! Thousands! Hundreds of thousands and we were the only foreigners. haha. I experienced more culture shock here than in downtown Saigon. Families picnic-ing on any manageable surface, grandmothers hanging their hammocks on trees, children racing each other, dads smoking cigarettes in the pools, etc. It was bizarre. Continue reading

Khmer Culture

1 Feb

There are too many posts about beaches, but I can’t help it! Hearing about all the snow in Canada makes me want to hide under my beach umbrella and order another fruit shake!

But don’t worry, I didn’t spend all of my time on the beach. We had a serious culture injection in Phnom Penh. Our first day was a serious one. We hired a tuk tuk and visited the Killing Fields. The Khmer people (Cambodians) have a dark history. From 1975-1979, the Ultra Communist Khmer Rouge Regime was responsible for over 2 million deaths in Cambodia – essentially, a genocide. They envisioned an agrarian society and forced Khmer people into the farmlands to grow rice in harsh conditions. They destroyed education, religious and economic institutions and enslaved the people – including foreigners.

Memorial for Khmer Rouge victims, Cambodia

Memorial for the victims of the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia

The Killing Fields was just one of the many areas across the country where the Khmer Rouge executed the population. Over 129 mass graves were discovered and thousands were murdered in this field – including children and babies. In fact, there is a rumored ‘baby killing tree’ next to one mass grave, where the Khmer Rouge would smash babies and then throw them into pits. My stomach turns even as I type. They believed that if they didn’t kill the babies, one day the children would seek revenge. The Khmer Rouge did not want to waste money using bullets, so everyone was murdered by bludgeoning, stab wound or forced object to the head – using pitchforks, hoes, etc. Unthinkable. Continue reading

A Taste of Phnom Pneh

29 Jan

THIS IS AS-IAH! Actually, the real term is ‘The is Africa’ but Stefanie and I invented our own slogan about Asia due to recent events. “This is Africa” is the term Leo DiCaprio uses in Blood Diamond to explain how anything and everything happens in Africa – good or bad, but mostly bad and how nobody can do a thing about it. AS-IAH because 1: we needed something that sounded like Africa and 2: we are practicing our Spanish.

Thailand was breezy and easy, but Cambodia is another story. The landscape, the people, the poverty, the rules, the corruption… everything I mentioned in my last post. It hasn’t been all awful. In fact, I’m really starting to like it here. However, I did have one bad day where it everything goes wrong and you start to feel homesick. It sounds so trivial now, but sometimes you just get stuck.

Siem Reap was amazing, but Stefanie and I had to make our way down south to Phnom Penh, Cambodia‘s capital. We booked a 6hr bus ride to PP through our guesthouse. The bus was supposed to have a/c, toilet, tv, etc. Not bad for $5! A minibus was picking us up one hour before departure and would bring us to the station. Stefanie and I made a breakfast call to Jessie and then went upstairs to gather a few last things. Our key wasn’t opening the door, so the front desk guy took a look, but he couldn’t open the door either. Needless to say, after prying the handle off the door and shimmying a metal twig around for 30 minutes, the manager finally got the door open a mere 5 minutes before our minibus arrived. PHEW! Continue reading

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