Tag Archives: go around the world
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RTW: Step Four!

17 Jul
Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne

Hello Melbourne!

BOOKED BOOKED BOOKED! I’ll be arriving in Australia November 30th, 2012! Exciting stuff.

Yes, I realize I skipped a step. Step three is booking return flights to Bali, Indonesia from either Singapore or Kuala Lumpur. I’m still trying to figure that one out, so I moved on to STEP FOUR! Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne is an important flight, which I can’t leave last minute. It can also be a really expensive one, so when I saw a great promo price, I excitedly got out my credit card and started to input away. Eight tries later, my booking finally went through! It was a bit of a hassle, but the rate was worth it.

Oy vey. My credit card bill is going to be outrageous this month…

Flying into Melbourne is a bit of a surprise. Stefanie and I were originally thinking we’d fly into Cairns and then work our way down the East Coast to Melbourne with a pit stop in Ayers Rock. The whole Ayers Rock expedition throws the whole route off, as you can see in the map below. Flights were also much more affordable to Melbourne than Cairns, despite the longer distance. So, I thought… why not just do a loop? I am no stranger to the travel loop! In fact, I’ve done loops for all of my travels. This is mostly because I book round trip in and out of the same airport. The Aussie loop will allow us to travel through South Australia as well. In total, I’ll be exploring 4 out of 6 Australian states and both territories. I’m not going to Western Australia, despite hearing how absolutely beautiful it is. Oops! I just don’t have the time, nor funds! Tear.Map of Australia with States

More good news on its way! Stay tuned.

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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

Sharpening my travel senses

18 May
Melissa Medeiros To and Fro

Hmmm…. road trip through Vermont? Camping in Algonquin? Hiking the Bruce Trail? Clubbing in Montreal? Eating hotdogs in NYC? Suntanning in Cuba?

You’ve guessed it. I am in the midst of travel planning – once again! Jessie and I have decided to do a little travel dance at the end of June. I haven’t gotten the time off yet, so nothing is set in stone. Actually, we haven’t even decided where we want to go. We are just searching the best travel deals on the web. If all else fails, we are going camping. Go Canada! 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

Don’t rain on my parade

26 Apr

It’s my BIRTHDAY!! I’m sitting in a coffee shop (not the kind in Amsterdam, although that would be a story) and enjoying a delicious Americano while writing this overdue blog. Despite the dull, rainy weather, today is going to be a fantastic day! Last year, I was in Toronto for my birthday a mere week before backpacking Europe with my best friends. I’ve come full circle. My nomadic lifestyle has finally come to an end, for now. Continue reading

Made to Measure

17 Feb
Biycles in Hoi An, Vietnam

Biycles in Hoi An, Vietnam

I splurged. I couldn’t help myself. Just one more thing!! Ah!

Custom clothing in Vietnam is a treat. Stefanie and I spent the last few days running around the old town of Hoi An going to fittings and stopping for lunch in between. It was tiring, but really fun. When will I ever have the opportunity to choose my fabric, design the style and fit ever again? Why not pick up a few items… or several. There are over 400 tailors in Hoi An – a population of 90,000 people. In other words – fierce competition and cheap prices.

After 3 days, I walked away with a custom cashmere blazer and high waisted skirt with silk lining, a long wool peacoat, two summer dresses, one silk chiffon dress with silk shawl and brown leather riding boots. One minute, I’m trying on the piece and the second it’s whisked away on a motorcycle to have the changes made. “Come back in three hours!” they tell you and the PRESTO! It’s completed. Of course, you may need it altered several times but it’s practically a 24 hour turn around. The price was right too. I bought things made to measure for a third of the price it would cost me in Canada. 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

Into the Deep: Scuba Diving in Thailand

19 Jan
Big Blue Dive Resort in Thailand

Big Blue Dive Resort was amazing.

Stefanie and I are officially SSI Adventurer Divers thanks to Big Blue Diving Resort! We ended up staying in Koh Tao for two extra days and completed the next level up from Open Water – now, we can dive anywhere in the world down to 30 metres. For the open water course, you complete 4 dives up to 18 metres. For adventurer, you need 5 dives: one buoyancy dive, where you practice going through hoops and doing headstands and hovers in the water – one deep dive, where you go down to 30 metres – one night dive, where you go diving in the pitch black sea with only a torch – one navigation dive, where you use your compass and learn your way around dive sites – and one other dive of your choice. I picked FISH ID or naturalist, where I went down with slides of fish and coral and had to record everything I saw. Stef chose a computer dive, where she learned to use the computer to track and plan her dive underwater. We are so nerdy.

Out of all the dives, I really enjoyed the night dive. It was such a surreal experience, especially when you begin your descent and it’s pure blackness all around you, then you start to see shapes of the rock and coral. We each had torches, which was pretty cool because you focus on only one spot. At night, the barracuda are hunting and you can help them catch fish by flashing your light on targets. It was exhilarating. We also saw sting rays and eels in action.

Big Blue Dive Resort in Thailand

our dive group from Big Blue Dive Resort

Our dive group was awesome. There was Stefanie and I and three Germans: Simon, Selena and Annalina. We got along so well and now, we are hanging out in Koh Phangan. We also teamed up with three other people from another dive group: a danish girl and two aussie boys. We reserved bungalows next to each other and have been partying together for the last 2 nights in honour of the Full Moon Party. The aussie boys left today and tomorrow the danish girl and Simon are leaving for Bangkok, while Stef, Selena, Annalina and I are traveling to Koh Phi Phi on the West coast for much needed beach bumming and relaxation. It’s so sad to say goodbye to your travel buddies. You start to feel like a little family.

Tonight is the official Full Moon Party, but the few nights leading up to the full moon are just as crazy. The party is along the Haad Rin beach and there are tons of Thais selling drinks called ‘buckets’ from their stands. A bucket is a dangerous thing. It’s literally a small bucket, with 200mls of alcohol and mixers, like red bull, juice or pop. One bucket and you have a pretty good buzz, two buckets and you are GONE. They are so cheap too – less than $3. There are also bars along the beach and people dancing on tables and on the sand. The last two nights, there was a foam party, a giant skipping rope on fire, rings of fires, fire limbo – pretty much tons of fire! All the drunkards think they are invincible and end up getting burned half the time. I avoided all fire activity – don’t worry! I did however, participate in the foam madness. I’ve never felt so sandy. The entire party was madness.

Full Moon Party, Thailand

pre-full moon party group shot

I forgot to mention that everyone paints themselves for the party with florescent colours. So last night, we got all dolled up in neon pink, orange, green and blue. We’re having round 3 tonight, but I am thoroughly exhausted plus we have to wake up early and take a 3 hour puke-worthy ferry ride to the mainland. We shall see. The trick is no buckets – but will I have enough strength to resist?

Full Moon Party, Thailand

Full Moon Party, Thailand

Thai Paradise: Scuba Diving Part 1

13 Jan
Koh Tao at sunset, Thailand

Koh Tao at sunset

The road was long, but we made it to Koh Tao – an island in the Gulf of Thailand. The journey was interesting and full of unexpected set backs. We packed up our bags in Bangkok and decided that taking the train down to Chumphon, spending the night and catching the 7am ferry to Koh Tao would be the most comfortable route, but then we were whisked away on a tuk tuk (a three-wheel motorcycle hut) to a travel agency INSTEAD of the train station by some ‘tourist police’. We ended up missing our train and paying for the overnight bus/boat combo ticket from the agency – exactly what they wanted from us, at a price we later found out was twice as much as the other people on our ferry. Scammed. We arrived at the agency around 1pm, but the transfer to the bus wasn’t leaving until 5pm, so Stefanie and I cruised the streets and found a local thai massage parlor. Ah, finally some bliss!

The Thai masseuse was amazing! Mine – at least. She was a tiny, old Thai woman, who hardly spoke a word of English, but we communicated just fine. She gave me an interesting, forceful massage using every part of her body and massaging every part of mine! She even massaged my face! She told me I was beautiful and so I complimented her as well but she told me ‘noooo!!! you so pink! beautiful’ and then pointed to her skin and said something in Thai. She reminded me of my grandmother. My avoe often says how she wishes she had light skin, instead of her tanned Portuguese colour. It’s definitely an old school way of thinking – but it’s funny how our generation wants the exact opposite: a bronze glow. Continue reading

YYZ to BKK

9 Jan

Stefanie posing with a guard at the Grand Palace, Thailand. They look like a couple. hehe

It’s been two days since arriving in Bangkok, but Stefanie and I are still jet legged. For everyone back home, we are exactly 12 hours ahead of you. So, when I tell my boyfriend I’ll call him in the morning, I actually mean at night. A little confusing – but we are getting the hang of it.

The 22 hour flight was not as horrible as I imagined. We flew Air Canada and it was fairly comfortable – for once! We had individual tv consoles to watch movies, tons of food and some leg room. We had a connection with Air China in Beijing and then flew the remained 5 hours. The flight was full of Chinese businessmen and just like I heard, they all started their synchronized stretches half-way through the flight. So adorable. 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

Patagonia – the furthest south I’ve been!

1 Nov

Puerto Madryn, Argentina

Happy Halloween to my fellow Canadians! I was a whale-watcher for Halloween *wink!

We just spent several days in Puerto Madryn, Argentina. It’s the furthest south we’ve managed to travel and is considered the beginning of Patagonia, the southernmost region in South America. The town is situated in between Peninsula Valdes (a protected national reserve) and Punta Tombo (the second largest penguin colony in the world!). How cute! It makes for a great base to explore both areas. Continue reading

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