A Travellerspoint blog

New Travel Plans

Family gatherings and working abroad

My travel plans based on the itinerary originally posted at the beginning of this blog have now changed.

The 2 major factors:
1) A family gathering planned in Hawaii in April
2) My heels are still not fully healed from the injury I sustained in Cambodia at the end of Nov.

When I decided to go Sumatra, Indonesia in Jan with Ashley and Garrett after Thailand I had two options afterward - continue down to Java, Indonesia or travel to Malaysia. The main reasons I wanted to travel to Malaysia were to see orangutans and hike up Mt. Kinabalu. I was going to see orangutans in Sumatra and with the condition of my heels I decided more trekking wasn't a good idea. With that being said I decided on Java. My dad has relatives in Jakarta so I would stop there for a few days to meet them and then continue on to Bali. Ashley was going to be with me until Feb 15th when she flies home from Manila. According to the original plan we would have spent January and the beginning of Feb in Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines. So now we made plans to stay in the Bali, Indonesia area until the end of Jan. After Bali we will fly to Cebu, Philippines. We'll stay there a week and then head to Boracay for another week. We chose all these places as they are great for scuba diving! After Boracay we go to Manila where Ashley will fly home and I will meet up with mom and dad who are in Manila visiting my maternal grandfather.

Mom and dad's flight to the Manila originated from Honolulu since they bought round trip tickets from Halifax to Honolulu on air miles. Because of this they are flying back to Honolulu on April 1st. For those of you who know me well you know I love Hawaii and that since moving to Calgary I would travel there at least once a year. Every year I would tell my family that we should all go there together. Well the ONE time that it is not convenient for me to travel to Hawaii my mom, dad, brother and sister all decide they are going to Hawaii. Yup, that's right! My brother and sister decided to meet my parents in Hawaii in April. I'm supposed to be in New Zealand in April after spending my 30th birthday in Bali. Now I need to change my plans so I can be in Hawaii. And so now I will be in the Philippines from the beginning of Feb until the end of March. I'm planning to fly to Maui on my own and celebrate my 30th birthday there. Ashlie MacDonald, a friend from Antigonish and Calgary, will be in Maui with her boyfriend and his family so I will have a few friends to celebrate with. If anyone else feels like a vacation at the end of March and would like to join me I welcome the company!! I'll be there March 24-April 1 On April 1st I will fly to Honolulu where I will meet up with the rest of my family.

After a month in Hawaii I'm pretty confident my funds will be very depleted. Just before New Years I applied for a working holiday visa in Australia. I recently found out it was approved so on May 1st I will be flying to Australia to start making money to finish my travels. I want to travel the entire eastern coast of Australia and would still like to go to Malaysia, New Zealand and Fiji. I'm not sure how long I will end up working there for but the visa is valid for a year once I enter the country. That being said I don't see myself returning to Canada until Ashley and Garrett's wedding, which I'm standing in. Just for a visit or for good I'm not sure, it will depend on when the wedding is and how much traveling I've completed!

Posted by eppalea 15:48 Archived in Indonesia Comments (1)

New Travel Plans

Family gathering and working abroad

My travel plans based on the itinerary originally posted at the beginning of this blog have now changed.

The 2 major factors:
1) A family gathering planned in Hawaii in April
2) My heels are still not fully healed from the injury I sustained in Cambodia at the end of Nov.

When I decided to go Sumatra, Indonesia in Jan with Ashley and Garrett after Thailand I had two options afterward - continue down to Java, Indonesia or travel to Malaysia. The main reasons I wanted to travel to Malaysia were to see orangutans and hike up Mt. Kinabalu. I was going to see orangutans in Sumatra and with the condition of my heels I decided more trekking wasn't a good idea. With that being said I decided on Java. My dad has relatives in Jakarta so I would stop there for a few days to meet them and then continue on to Bali. Ashley was going to be with me until Feb 15th when she flies home from Manila. According to the original plan we would have spent January and the beginning of Feb in Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines. So now we made plans to stay in the Bali, Indonesia area until the end of Jan. After Bali we will fly to Cebu, Philippines. We'll stay there a week and then head to Boracay for another week. We chose all these places as they are great for scuba diving! After Boracay we go to Manila where Ashley will fly home and I will meet up with mom and dad who are in Manila visiting my maternal grandfather.

Mom and dad's flight to the Manila originated from Honolulu since they bought round trip tickets from Halifax to Honolulu on air miles. Because of this they are flying back to Honolulu on April 1st. For those of you who know me well you know I love Hawaii and that since moving to Calgary I would travel there at least once a year. Every year I would tell my family that we should all go there together. Well the ONE time that it is not convenient for me to travel to Hawaii my mom, dad, brother and sister all decide they are going to Hawaii. Yup, that's right! My brother and sister decided to meet my parents in Hawaii in April. I'm supposed to be in New Zealand in April after spending my 30th birthday in Bali. Now I need to change my plans so I can be in Hawaii. And so now I will be in the Philippines from the beginning of Feb until the end of March. I'm planning to fly to Maui on my own and celebrate my 30th birthday there. Ashlie MacDonald, a friend from Antigonish and Calgary, will be in Maui with her boyfriend and his family so I will have a few friends to celebrate with. If anyone else feels like a vacation at the end of March and would like to join me I welcome the company!! I'll be there March 24-April 1 :) On April 1st I will fly to Honolulu where I will meet up with the rest of my family.

After a month in Hawaii I'm pretty confident my funds will be very depleted. Just before New Years I applied for a working holiday visa in Australia. I recently found out it was approved so on May 1st I will be flying to Australia to start making money to finish my travels. I want to travel the entire eastern coast of Australia and would still like to go to Malaysia, New Zealand and Fiji. I'm not sure how long I will end up working there for but the visa is valid for a year once I enter the country. That being said I don't see myself returning to Canada until Ashley and Garrett's wedding, which I'm standing in. Just for a visit or for good I'm not sure, it will depend on when the wedding is and how much traveling I've completed!

Posted by eppalea 04:30 Archived in Indonesia Comments (1)

The Southern Islands of Thailand

Spending the holidays with Canadian friends and falling in love with scuba diving!!

On the morning of Dec 20th I arrived back in Bangkok after taking a night train down from Nongkhai, the Laos/Thai border town. From Bangkok I went west for 2.5 hrs to Kanchanburi, where I visited the Tiger Temple for the day. That night once back in Bangkok, Garrett, Ashley, Landon and I took an overnight bus down to Chumphon. From here we caught a morning boat to Koh Tao. Koh Tao is a very small but very beautiful island located in the Gulf of Thailand. Here we took an Open Water Diving course from Dec 21-24 and loved it so much we ended up extending our stay on the island by a day to take the Advanced course. Diving took up most of our time so we didn't do much else but on the evening of Dec 22nd Garrett got down on one knee and proposed to Ashley!! She said yes and we celebrated into the early morning. On the afternoon of Dec 24th we passed our Open Water Diving Course. That evening - Christmas Eve - was the big celebration night on the island. Maura and Sean, two other Canadian friends from Vancouver, were in Thailand celebrating their honeymoon and they met up with us for the evening's festivities. We all had dinner at our resort's restaurant. It was a delicious buffet. After dinner we went to a ladyboy show!! Definitely something I never thought I'd be doing on Christmas Eve! haha. It was quite entertaining. After the show we partied along the beach, bar hopping into the early hours of the morning. Christmas Day was our one free day during our time on Koh Tao and unfortunately it rained :( We had hoped to actually have a beach day but instead had a chill day wandering around the village. That evening we all went for a nice 4 course sit down Christmas Dinner at a restaurant near the resort. The next morning we had prep work to do for our Advanced Open Water Diving course and that afternoon we did 2 more dives and a night dive. In the morning we did 2 more dives and just like that we were now certified to dive up to 30m deep!!

That afternoon we took a boat over to Koh Phangan where we would be spending the next 6 days. Koh Phangan is famous for its Full Moon Parties. They are all-night beach parties held on Haad Rin beach on the night before, on, and after every full moon. The event draws crowds of about 20,000-30,000 people. New Year's Eve wasn't technically a Full Moon but they still had a Full Moon Party and the parties leading up to the Full Moon were just as big as the actual party. So as you can imagine, most of our time on this island was spent partying. In Ashley's blog she described it as:

Party party party!!! It's a glorious world of buckets, neon paint and lots of debauchery. Every night you have a plethora of parties to choose from. Whether its the pool party down the street, a party on the beach or a chill out time at the Mello Mountain Mushroom Bar. From the minute we got there, music was pouring from the beach and lots of people on the street convincing you to go to their bar over their competitors. It was awesome!

Our accomedations were actually on the other side of Haad Rin, where Sunset Beach is. It's close enough to the party to walk to but far enough away that you could pass out in a hammock without hearing a peep. It was bliss! And walking down the streets, you are not let down by the amount of shops selling anything from clothes, flippy flops, jewelry, to buckets of booze. In a single block you could change your outfit into neon clothes, get decorated in neon paint and pre drink with even wincing. We did this and soon after hit up the parties.

I also got to meet up with a whole bunch of friends from my travels in Vietnam which was wonderful.

Now because we entered Thailand by land we only had a 15 day visa. This meant we had to be out of the country Jan 2nd. So on Dec 30th I spoke to a travel agent on the island and arrange transport by land to Penang, Malaysia for me, Ashley and Garrett (Landon was flying to Hong Kong on Jan 3rd). On January 1st I get a call to go see the travel agent. She informs me that there is flooding in Southern Thailand and the city of Hat Yai can't be passed by land. Not good news for us! From Penang we had planned to take a boat to Medan, Indonesia. We had all already booked flights out of Medan on Jan 11th. So I looked into getting flights from Surat Thani or Phuket to Medan on Jan 2nd but all flights were sold out and none were available for 5 days. Our only option now was to do a visa run to Burma. After that we would head to the island of Phi Phi in the Andaman Sea. We left Koh Phangan at 7am and took a high speed catamaran to Don Sak. From there a bus took us to Surat Thani. Here we would catch our bus to Ranong. The bus ride to Ranong (the Thai border town) was supposed to take 4 hrs. Our bus was supposed to leave Surat Thani at 12:30pm but didn't actually leave until 2:15pm. And thanks to more flooding, our bus had to do a major detour and the 4 hr bus ride ended up taking 10 hrs!! So instead of arriving at 4:30pm and being able to get out of the country on Jan 2nd we arrived at 12:15am with no where to sleep. There were 3 other travelers doing a visa run as well so the 6 us of drove around in a tuk tuk until we found a place that was open, affordable and had room for us. It took a while but eventually we found a room we could all fit in. The next morning the owner of the place we stayed at organized our visa run for a reasonable price. The whole process took about 4hrs. Once back in Thailand we took an evening bus to Phuket, where we stayed the night before catching the morning boat to Phi Phi. Phi Phi island was another beautiful island. There are actually 2 islands - Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Lei. We stayed on Phi Phi Don. While on Phi Phi we scuba dived, took a booze cruise around Phi Phi Lei, took a boat cruise around Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Lei and enjoyed the beach :) Visa run antics aside, it was an enjoyable extended stay in Thailand.

Photos via Facebook:
Southern Thailand Islands - Part I
Southern Thailand Islands - Part II
Under the Sea - Scuba Diving in Thailand

Posted by eppalea 02:32 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Happy New Year!!

Yes, I'm still alive :)


View World Adventure on eppalea's travel map.

Happy New Year!!!!

Just a quick entry to let you know I'm still alive and well. Unfortunately my desire to blog has drastically gone down hill. Sorry to those who keep checking here for updates and find nothing. A brief summary of the last 2 months traveling through SE Asia:

Vietnam:
Two and a half weeks with stops in Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hue, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Mui Ne, Saigon and the Mekong Delta

My first few days in Vietnam were spent in Hanoi and Halong Bay, and were fairly uneventful. In Hue I met up with 2 guys from my Africa tour. With them and 10 friends they made on their trip to Halong Bay we traveled as a group of 14 people from Hue down to Saigon. The majority of the people in the group were in there early to mid 20s so we partied most nights. In Hue, Hoi An and Mui Ne we rented motorbikes during the day and rode around to see the sights - lots of fun!! In Nha Trang we spent one day at an amusement park island and another on a 4 island boat tour. In Mui Ne our motorbike tour took us to the White Sand dunes. Very pretty, but nothing compared to the sand dunes in Namibia. Saigon felt like just another city to me, but I did get to meet up with Patrice Murphy, a friend from Antigonish. She has been living in Saigon, working as a teacher. I took a day trip out of Saigon to visit the Chu Chi Tunnels, and even crawled through one!! What a tiny space! Not for the claustrophobic. My journey to Cambodia was through a 2 day 1 night tour that took me into the Mekong Delta. Unfortunately it as well was fairly uneventful. But overall I found Vietnam to be a beautiful country and I would love to go back!

Cambodia:
Five days with stops in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap

The boat that took me to Phnom Penh arrived much later than expected so I had less than 24 hrs in the city. The evening I arrived in Phnom Penh I went out with travelers I met on my journey through the Mekong. The next day I visited the Royal Palace and S-21 with one of the same travelers. That afternoon I took a bus up to Siem Reap. I spent the next 3 days visiting the temples with a friend from Calgary. Unfortunately on the second day of seeing the temples injured my heels by jumping 6.5 feet down off the ledge of a temple onto what I thought was grass. It was only a very thing layer of grass and then solid rock! To top it off I jumped in bare feet. This was VERY bad timing as it was now very painful to walk and I had a 3 day 2 night trek planning in northern Thailand 4 days later and another 3 days of trekking planned in northern Laos a week later.

Thailand:
A day and night in Bangkok and five days in Chiang Mai

After a long night bus journey from Siem Reap I arrived in Bangkok around lunch time. I found a guesthouse and went out for lunch. Then I decided to walk around. Sure enough silly me, I ended up getting "scammed". By scammed I just had my afternoon wasted, being driven around in a tuk tuk to what was supposed to be different temples but really got taken to tailor shops where they wanted me to buy things. The incentive that got me in the tuk tuk was that it was supposed to be a government holiday so certain tuk tuks will take you around to scenic locations for only 20 baht over 3 hrs, with only one stop at a factory. But it seemed like every other stop he wanted to take me to a factory. In the end I said no and walked back to Koh San road. There I got an amazing Thai massage. That night I went to a "ping pong" show which I will only describe as an EXPERIENCE. Sorry, I won't get into detail on this one but if you've been to one you know what I mean. The next morning I ventured to the Royal Palace, which was very beautiful. That evening I took a night train to Chiang Mai. I arrived at my hostel the following morning and booked the 3 day 2 night trek, which included an elephant ride, white water rafting and bamboo rafting. That afternoon I ventured into the town to take a look around and stumbled upon some high school track and field and cheerleading. That was fun to watch :) I left on the trek the following morning. There ended up being 11 of us on the trek. We drove an hr outside of Chiang Mai where we started the trek riding an elephant for 30 mins. Then we had lunch, followed by 3 hrs of trekking - mainly uphill. We stayed the night in a small village with very basic accommodations - one big room with mats, mosquito nets and bedding. The next day we trekked all day, stopping at 3 different waterfalls. For lunch we had noodles our guide cooked that morning and we got to eat out of bamboo bowls and with bamboo chopsticks he made on the spot! Very cool. Our night time accommodations were very similar to the previous nights. In the morning we trekked for an hr and then did 45 mins of white water rafting (which was pretty fun) and 15 mins of bamboo rafting (which unfortunately was pretty boring). After the rafting we ate lunch and traveled back to Chiang Mai. The next day I did a lot of nothing and just rested my feet in anticipation for another 3 day trek starting 2 days later.

Laos:
Twelve days with stops in Huay Xai, the Bokeo Nature Reserve, Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng

I crossed into Huay Xai, Laos from Chiang Khong, Thailand on Dec 7. The following day I was going on The Waterfall Gibbon Experience. It consisted of trekking, zip lining and living in tree houses in the Bokeo Nature Reserve for 3 days and 2 nights. It was an AWESOME experience!! Unfortunately I didn't see any gibbons, but I sure did live like one for 3 days. Zipping over tree tops and living in trees 40 meters off the ground was soo cool. I even had my first X-Ring encounter with a couple also doing the Gibbon Experience. When we gathered at the office in the morning they noticed my ring and commented that I went to X. They were from Australia and the woman told me her aunt and cousin went to X. Turns out I knew who her cousin was - Jim Kehoe for those wondering. When I returned from the Gibbon Experience I was pleasantly surprised by the arrival of Ashley, Garrett and Landon - my 3 friends from Calgary who weren't supposed to meet up with me until I got to southern Thailand!!! They were going on the Gibbon Experience that was leaving the next morning. So we had one night to catch up and then we would split for 3 days. They would meet up with me again in Luang Prabang. The following morning I got on a boat to Luang Prabang with 4 people that were on the Gibbon Experience with me. It was supposed to be a 2 day 1 night journey with an overnight stop in Pak Beng. Well for starters we left an hour late and they filled the boat with too many people. Then an hr into the journey we hit a rock and started taking on water. We had to pull over onto a sandy riverbank and unload everyone and the bags while we waited for a new boat. Of course mine came off wet :( An hour later the new boat arrived but it was smaller than the first. Now there really was no room on the boat. People were scattered all over the floor and in the aisle. Since we were now delayed 2 hrs we didn't end up making it to Pak Beng before dark and the boat had no lights so it pulled over to another sandy river bank and people had to sleep on the boat or on the shore. The nights in Laos were quite cold so my friends did not have a pleasant night. They didn't have sleeping bags or warm clothes so they froze. I didn't find it that bad aside from not having any food. I was used to sleeping on a beach under the stars and I also still had all my warm clothes, a hat, scarf, sleeping bag and mosquito net! At the crack of dawn the boat set off for Pak Beng and then Luang Prabang. We made it to Luang Prabang with about 20 mins of sunlight left. During the day I had another "small world" experience. A couple sitting behind me on the boat was talking to some other people about living in Canada. I chimed in, saying I was Canadian and asked where they went. They said the worked in Banff for 5 months but prior to that spent time in Toronto, making their way East to Nova Scotia. I asked where they went in NS. They said the spent 3 weeks WOOFING in a small town called Antigonish!!! What are the chances!! They ended up working in Ohio on Betty Sharpe's farm. Luang Prabang was nice. We ended up visiting it during the Laos games. We tried to attend the opening ceremonies but by the time we got to the stadium it was packed and there was no where to sit. We also visited a really pretty waterfall. I left Luang Prabang on Dec 15th with Ashley, Garrett and Landon and we headed for Vang Vieng via minivan. Travel within Laos was not on my side and sure enough we ran into another hiccup. An hour into our journey the minivan was going down a windy road and a semi truck was coming up, and a big pick up truck is trying to pass it!!! Our driver stops and pulls over as far as he can. For some reason the pick up truck doesn't stop passing the semi truck and ends up bouncing back and forth between the end of our minivan and the semi truck. Then both trucks drive off. This leaves our driver mad so he drops us at the closes road side village and chases after the truck that hit his van. It had scratches but no dents. The damage was definitely way less than I thought it would be. So there we are, stranded on the side of the road in the noon day sun. We waited 2 hrs before stopping a bus and hitching a ride to Vang Vieng. How do I describe Vang Vieng. In short it is a party town with a river that is lined with bars and people visiting spend their days drinking buckets of booze. Some people end up floating down the river but most just walk from bar to bar. It was a fun time but 2 days of it was enough for me! On our third day there we rented bicycles and rode 7 km out of town to check out a cave and blue lagoon. The next morning we headed for the Thai border.

I think I shall end this entry now. I will write about Christmas and New Years in the Southern islands of Thailand in my entry. Below are links to pictures in my Facebook albums for the countries mentioned above. Enjoy!

Photos:
Vietnam - Part I
Vietnam - Part II note: mainly partying pictures
Vietnam - Part III note: mainly partying pictures
Vietnam - Part IV and Cambodia
Central and Northern Thailand
Laos

Posted by eppalea 05:52 Comments (0)

China

A three week G Adventure Tour


View World Adventure on eppalea's travel map.

Hello All! I will apologize again for slacking off in the blogging department. And for those of you who don't have Facebook and rely solely on this blog to keep tabs on me I am REALLY, REALLY sorry!

As with my Africa blog I'm going to refer you to my pictures as a guide to what I did over my 3 weeks in China. Below are links to my Facebook Albums:

China - Part I
China - Part II
China - Part III

And here is a brief overview of the tour:

It started in Beijing and ended in Hong Kong. There were 11 of us ranging from 22 yrs old to 77 years old!! Most of the tour we stayed in hotels if we weren't traveling on overnight trains. Quite a change from the camping I did on my last tour! I enjoyed Beijing a lot and found I could have spent a few more days there as there was lots to do! My favorite places were the Great Wall, The Forbidden City and the Pearl Market. The Pearl Market was filled with cheap knock-offs that are really hard to tell are fake. Among a handful of purchases I got some Converse sneakers for $7 and a Chinese silk dress for $15. Most things I offered 10% of the price they asked and only had to go up a bit on a few items. It's all about what you are willing to pay because if you walk away and they will likely chase after you :) Some of the other places I visited were the Temple of Heaven, the Yonghegong (Lama) Temple, Hutongs and the Summer Palace. The food was great here too!

After 3 days in Beijing we took an overnight train to Shanghai. The trains were small and cramped. I was grateful to be petite and short. The beds were 3 to a wall so each bunk room had 6 beds! I didn't really take much away from Shanghai. I found it to just be another big modern city with lots of expensive shopping. The only place I liked was the YuYuan Gardens in the Old City and walking along the Bund. We also went up a building with 87 floors to check out the view at night.

From Shanghai we took another overnight train to Xi'an. Here we did some Karaoke, biking along the top of the city wall and of course, checked out the Terracotta Warriors. The warriors fascinated me with the sheer fact that these artifacts are soooo old!! I was surprised to learn that only one warrior was found intact. All the other discovered warriors are being found smashed up and the archaeologists are putting them back together. Xi'an is known for its dumplings so I also ate a lot of them here :) Next we flew to Chengdu. I didn't find anything of great interest in this city but it had sentimental value for me. My uncle was born here and for that reason it was cool to be there.

After only one night in Chengdu we left early in the morning for the Panda Sanctuary, Leshan's 71 foot tall stone Buddah and Mount Emei as our destination. The pandas were really cute and I could have spent all day just watching them eat and play. The 71 foot tall Buddah was in short, HUGE! It is carved out of stone in a rock face on the river. It took 90 years to complete. After visiting the Buddah we set off for a monastery in Emei Shan. We stayed here for 2 nights and it was very cold!! Despite the cold this place had sentimental value to me as well. My mother informed me that Mt Emei was my grandparents favorite place to visit in China. The hike up Mt. Emei was pretty but unfortunately the fog was heavy so we didn't go to the top. We did go to the joking monkey zone though and that was amusing! Monkeys will jump on you and try to steal your stuff. I had a little guy jump on my head and was grateful when he left my hat where it belonged.

A three day cruise along the Yangtze River was next on the itinerary. It was enjoyable as there was a lot of down time. I was in need of some relaxation. The boat took us through the Three Gorges. Surprisingly it reminded me of the Fjords I saw in Newfoundland! My favorite place on the whole tour was where we went next. Yangshuo is an hour south of Guilin city and is surrounded by really beautiful scenery. It has giant limestone karst and there was lots to do! I took Kung Fu and calligraphy lessons. We went on a bike ride, did bamboo rafting, hiking and had lunch at a farmer's house too. One night I went to this cool lightshow/performance directed by the guy who did the opening show for the Beijing Olympics. It was amazing! The food here was awesome too! There were lots of markets as well and I bought Chinese painting so now my art count from the trip stands at two. I definitely did not want to leave this place!

Hong Kong wrapped up the tour. For our last night as a group we took the tram up to the peak to look down on the city at sunset. Very beautiful! Then we watched a symphony of lights on the buildings along the waterfront. After that we went out for some drinks. The next morning I checked out of my hotel and went to meet Chris Ivany, a friend from St FX who is living and teaching in Hong Kong. We spent the afternoon sightseeing - took a cable car with a glass floor up to the big Budda. That evening him, his wife and another fellow X grad took me out on the town to experience Hong Kong night life!!

Posted by eppalea 11:02 Archived in China Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 20) Page [1] 2 3 4 »