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Travel

Little People

I spent last week on Vancouver Island, and spent some good quality time with my almost-three-year-old nephew and godson.

I love the simplicity that life carries for children. Their constant questions and curiosities, innocence and trust, freedom and imagination. These are truly things to admire in the little people all around us. We, as adults, should all aspire to rediscover these things within ourselves. I believe that if we could recapture even a fraction of our childhood, we might see the world through completely different eyes…

With that in mind, I hope you enjoy the following images and I invite your feedback and comments. Enjoy!

 

Cache

Father & Son 32

Children at Play 9 Children at Play 8

Child at Play

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Emily & Megan 11 Emily & Megan 21

Emily & Megan 25

Adventures in Bangkok

Our first day in Bangkok was somewhat adventurous. After breakfast we grabbed our cameras and set off to first, sort out our travel plans to Koh Tao, and then to explore the city.

Sorting out our travel plans wasn’t as simple as we expected. A friend had arranged our train and ferry tickets to the island of Koh Tao and had sent the tickets from Koh Tao to a Bangkok travel office. However, due to the storms in the gulf of Thailand at the time, the tickets never actually made it to Bangkok. So, day one in Bangkok, we were told to come back the next day to see if the ferries were running again for our tickets to make it to the mainland… So, off we went to explore Bangkok!

Bangkok 2011 32
Within minutes of leaving the travel office we were approached by one tuktuk driver after another offering to take us to various tourist attractions. We were standing on a corner looking at the city map, when a woman walked up offering to help give us direction to the Grand Palace. She told us the easiest way to get there was by tuktuk and so we climbed in. The ride was exceptionally cheap that day, as it was a Buddhist holiday and the government was sponsoring the tuktuks for the day, so we ended up paying 20 baht (about 64 Canadian cents) for a two and a half hour tour of Bangkok with several stops along the way. Not bad!

View from the back of the tuktuk in Bangkok, Thailand

First stop, the Standing Buddha. This was the the first big Buddha I had ever seen and I was blown away by its sheer size! This was also my first experience watching Buddhists leaving offerings and pausing for prayer. They would pay a donation to the temple and in exchange they were given three incense sticks, a candle, and gold leaf. The incense and candle were lit and left in designated areas, while the gold leaf was pressed onto a Buddha statue for luck. Next they would kneel in front of the Buddha in prayer.

Me, at the Standing Buddha, Bangkok 2011 12 Giant Standing Buddha, Bangkok 2011 16

Praying at the Standing Buddha, Bangkok 2011 9

Lighting incense for prayer, Standing Buddha, Bangkok 2011 6

Burning incense, Bangkok 2011 11

We made a couple of other stops before the driver took us to Top Ten Tailors, the first sponsor of the adventure. I had read about this so was not surprised. Basically the tuktuk drivers are paid in gasoline coupons for bringing tourists to their sponsors (usually tailors and jem shops). So, we played along… Although the clothes were truly beautiful, and much more affordable than back home (a 3-piece men’s suit was $75 CAD), we weren’t about to lug something like that all over Thailand with us for seven weeks… So after listening to the half hour spiel, we politely declined and were on our way again.

We stopped at one more temple before we told our driver that we were not interested in any more sponsor stops, our tuktuk tour abruptly ended right back where we started, and the friendly woman who had been so helpful earlier pretended not to even know us. Haha! Quite hilarious, really…

From there, we carried on on foot. We explored the famous Khaosan Road, where you can buy anything and everything you can imagine!

Lunch?? Bangkok 2011 29

Bangkok 2011 31

Bangkok 2011 37

We eventually made our way to the Grand Palace. However, by this time it was later in the afternoon, and there was not enough time before the palace closed to do it justice for exploring. So we decided to go back the following day. But we’ll save that for another post…

Bangkok- Grand Palace 3

For more photos of my Bangkok adventure, please visit the set on Flickr!

Nikon School of Underwater Photography

Are you interested in learning more about underwater photography? I’ve found the PERFECT solution! Check out the Nikon School of Underwater Photography!

Nikon Digital SLR Underwater Photography Programs are offered every week of the year in Bonaire, in the Netherlands Antilles in the Caribbean Sea!

Nikon School Underwater Photo Montage
The program includes:

  • Seven nights hotel accommodations/double occupancy
  • Breakfast daily
  • Six days of diving: Six boat dives
  • Unlimited Air Fills and Unlimited 24 hr. Shore Diving
  • Tanks and Weight Belts included
  • Hotel and Government tax and service charges included
  • Round trip airport transfers in Bonaire included
  • Six days free rental of Nikon SLR digital camera and housing, lenses, strobes and accessories.
  • Six-day underwater photography lesson modules with assist from Pro.
  • Regular dive packages are available for non-photography students.

Summer Rates* starting at $1,649/person (Double Occupancy)
April 1 to December 18

Winter Rates* starting at $1,799/person (Double Occupancy)
December 19 to March 31

*Rates vary according to the type of hotel accommodations.

For questions, or to register, please call +1.203.599.1203
or email: [email protected]

For more information on accommodations:
Captain Don’s Habitat, Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles
Habitatbonaire.com

This is definitely another one to add to my bucket list!

Source: http://www.nikonusa.com

Island Time

Vancouver Island time 9Vancouver Island time 1Vancouver Island time 2Vancouver Island time 3Vancouver Island time 4Vancouver Island time 5
Vancouver Island time 6Vancouver Island time 7Vancouver Island time 8Vancouver Island time 10Vancouver Island time 11Vancouver Island time 12
Vancouver Island time 13Vancouver Island time 14Vancouver Island time 15Salmon ready for the BBQSalmon ready for the BBQFresh salmon on the BBQ
Fresh BBQ'd salmon, potatoes and asparagus for dinner! YUM!

Island Time 2011, a set on Flickr.

A collection of photos of my visits to Vancouver Island in 2011.

Jewels for a Cause 2011

Tonight, for the second year in a row, I will be donating my time and photography services to the Jewels for a Cause charity event in West Vancouver. The event was started 10 years ago by Jennifer Rainnie and Teri-Ann Donaldson, Jewelry display table at Jewels for a Causeas a very grass roots way to gather friends, drink some wine, buy some jewelry and donate the proceeds to charity. The event has grown each year and has now become a very large gathering with over 20 jewelers/artists showcasing their work.

This year, Jewels For A Cause has chosen to support the Starlight Children’s Foundation.  The Starlight Foundation helps seriously ill children and their families cope with their pain, fear and isolation through entertainment, education and family activities.

Barefoot Wines table at the Jewels for a Cause EventTonight’s event will be bigger and better than ever. They have more than doubled the jewelers, they will be offering free wine and bubbly sampling from Barefoot Wines, there will be 4 restaurants offering tasting plates (the menu is amazing!) tickets will be $1 and plates vary from 1 to 5 tickets. There will also be a shuttle service for parking and a fantastic silent auction. 

For more information on Jewels for a Cause and to view the gorgeous collections that will be available at the event, please visit the website at www.jewels4acause.ca.

If you’re looking for something fun to do tonight, I invite you to join me at this event to support an amazing cause!

Event Details

Thursday May 26th, 2011 (Tonight!)
7pm – 10 pm
Entrance Fee: $10

Hollyburn Country Club  www.hollyburn.org
950 Cross Creek Road, West Vancouver, BC

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A Tiny Taste of my May Long Weekend…

Fresh prawnsPacific Spirit ParkPacific Spirit ParkPacific Spirit ParkPacific Spirit ParkPacific Spirit Park
Pacific Spirit ParkRoxie at Pacific Spirit ParkRoxie at Pacific Spirit ParkPacific Spirit ParkRoxie at Pacific Spirit ParkRoxie at Pacific Spirit Park
Pacific Spirit ParkRoxie at Pacific Spirit ParkPacific Spirit ParkFresh prawnsShrimp on the BarbyShrimp on the Barby
Shrimp on the barbyMango Avocado Salad!Tasty BBQ dinnerTasty BBQ dinnerExhausted Roxie

May Long 2011, a set on Flickr.

Bangkok: Grand Palace

Bangkok- Grand Palace 28Bangkok- Grand Palace 1Bangkok- Grand Palace 2Bangkok- Grand Palace 3Bangkok- Grand Palace 4Bangkok- Grand Palace 5
Bangkok- Grand Palace 6Bangkok- Grand Palace 7Bangkok- Grand Palace 8Bangkok- Grand Palace 9Bangkok- Grand Palace 10Bangkok- Grand Palace 11
Bangkok- Grand Palace 12Bangkok- Grand Palace 13Bangkok- Grand Palace 14Bangkok- Grand Palace 15Bangkok- Grand Palace 16Bangkok- Grand Palace 17
Bangkok- Grand Palace 18Bangkok- Grand Palace 19Bangkok- Grand Palace 20Bangkok- Grand Palace 21Bangkok- Grand Palace 22Bangkok- Grand Palace 23

Bangkok: Grand Palace, a set on Flickr.

New photos posted to Flickr of my visit to the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand.

Off to a Rough Start…

My trip to Thailand didn’t have the greatest start… For starters, the morning of my flight to Bangkok I woke up to find that my car window had been smashed. I had to leave for the airport at 10:30am, and found my smashed window at 8am while taking the dog out for one last good walk before being away for 7 weeks… Ugh… Thanks to great friends and amazing family, it was quickly looked after so I could focus on getting my last minute things done before heading to the airport.

My journey was in two legs: Vancouver to Beijing, then Beijing to Bangkok. The flight to Beijing was a long 11 hours. And thanks to the six kids who took turns screaming, throughout the entire flight, it just that much longer… After a 4 hour layover, the Beijing to Bangkok flight was much quieter, and I actually slept through almost the entire trip.

The arrival in Bangkok was smooth. The luggage came quickly and the next thing I knew, I was in a taxi and headed to the hotel.

Quatchi's last photo at YVR

Quatchi's last photo at YVR, enjoying a ceasar while waiting to board the flight to Beijing.

We arrived at the hotel after more than 30 hours of traveling and just as the taxi drove away I realized I had left a bag in the cab… Which wasn’t a huge big deal (duty free booze, a scarf, and travel slippers), except that there was one item in the bag that I’ll miss a lot during the trip, and was a huge part of my little travel project… Quatchi. Quatchi was in the bag. 🙁

So… as much as I intended to post plenty of photos of Quatchi checking out Thailand at @QuatchiTravels, Quatchi has embarked on his own personal undocumented journey. I’m thinking that the driver was quite happy with the gift of rum, his wife has a nice new scarf and slippers, and his kid has a fun new toy…

Surprisingly, after more than 30 hours of travel and maybe 4 hours of sleep, sleep did not come easy on the first night in Bangkok. So, what better to do at 2am, than to search the streets for some tasty tom ka (coconut soup).

My luck was changing, cuz we found such a tasty soup not far from the hotel at a street vendor. Tom ka seafood! YUM! With a belly full of soup, sleep came much easier! Not a bad way to start the Bangkok adventure!

Good luck Quatchi! I hope you find happiness as you embark on a whole new adventure!

Travel on the Horizon

There is travel on the horizon, so close, I can almost touch it! T minus 6 days and I will be leaving Vancouver for 46 days!

Monkey Forest, Ubud, Bali 040 I’ll be flying from Vancouver to Bangkok, Thailand. I’ll spend a month exploring Thailand and then will make my way to Bali, Indonesia for some more exploring and hopefully some diving! I don’t have much on my itinerary at this point and am somewhat planning on a “no-plan” plan and talking to people once I arrive there as to what the must-sees are in their personal experiences. The few things that are on my list however, are to do my advanced scuba diving course on Koh Tao, to experience the Songkran Festival for Thai New Year in Chiang Mai, to visit an elephant rescue sanctuary, to spend a few days on a liveaboard diving boat off Phuket, and of course to visit many temples. And of course, this goes without saying, I plan to photograph the entire experience!Ubud Wanderings 17

After about a month in Thailand, I’ll head to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to catch a flight to Bali, Indonesia.  This is where I’ll spend my last 10 days of the trip diving, and seeing sights that I did not get to the last time around. As an added bonus, I’ll be spending a few days in Lovina in Northern Bali, at my aunt’s home, visiting with friends that I met on last year’s trip to the island.

So far, in preparation for the trip, I’ve booked my flight, purchased travel medical insurance, applied for and received my Thai tourist visa, and have ensured that my travel vaccinations are up to date. The main vaccinations my doctor said to concern myself with were: typhoid, tetanus, cholera, travelers diarrhea, and hepatitis A and B. Most of these were already up to date due to my travel to Bali last year, but the cholera/traveler’s diarrhea required a booster dose, so I did that, and the doctor also gave me some all purpose antibiotics (cipro) as a “just in case” solution to some potential problems that I may or may not encounter.

Ubud Wanderings 9 Having to deal with a house move before my departure has not helped my stress levels, so make things a bit simpler, and to save some cash on a month’s rent, I’ve chosen to put my life in storage until I return from the trip… It feels a bit strange to put it all back into a storage locker only six months after pulling it out of one, but somehow it feels like the right choice for the moment…

So there you have it… I’m booked and preparing for an adventure of a lifetime! I realize that many people never have the opportunity to make such a trip, so I plan to live it to the fullest and experience all there is to experience. The travel bug has bit me, and I have a feeling that this is only the beginning of my globe trotting adventures!

 

 

A Taste of the Yukon

In the short time I spent on the whirlwind Whitehorse Olympic media day last February, there was much to see and do!    (This post is well overdue….)

The trip started right from the moment we checked in at YVR. The woman handing out the boarding passes was dressed in traditional dress from the gold rush days. She wore this while hosting the flight to Whitehorse with contests and games.

Upon arrival, our media group was ushered to waiting school buses to take us to the local Whitehorse tourism centre, where we were introduced to the Province’s premier, Dennis Fentie, and members of Yukon Tourism. We were also treated to a dance from the Snowshoe Shufflers! Yep, dancers with snowshoes strapped to their feet! They also had past Olympians and Special Olympians present from the local area. I was honoured to personally meet Christine Larsen and she allowed me not only to hold her medal from the Atlanta Games, but to hang it around my neck as well!

Me and Christine Larsen and her silver medal

Christine Larsen's silver medal

Travel Yukon hosted a quick lunch with tastes of various restaurants in the city with traditional loca foods, such as moose, bison, and venison meats! It was all absolutely delicious!

We were then separated into our respective groups, depending on the activity we had previously chosen. The one my partner and I chose to be a part of was the Wildlife Reserve and Hot Springs tour. In between the two, we even stopped at t a local coffee roasting company, Bean North, where they roast organic beans from around the world that are purchased via fair trade.

Bean North Cafe

Bean North Cafe Bean North Cafe

At the wildlife reserve we saw many animals, from reindeer, to mountain goats, mountain sheep, elk, and  deer, to my favourite: a lynx!

Lynx at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve

Yukon Wildlife Preserve Yukon Wildlife Preserve

Yukon Wildlife Preserve

The Takhini Hot Springs were heavenly! We didn’t have a whole lot of time to enjoy them, but in the -20 degree Celsius weather it was a welcome warm up! The great thing about these hot springs was that you did not get that rotten egg sulfur smell that you often do with hot springs. There was no odor at all! Just two big pools of different temperatures to enjoy at your leisure. We were told that if you’re enjoying the hot springs at night, you may be lucky enough to catch a great light show from the arora borealis. Now THAT, I would love to experience!

Takhini Hot Springs

Connected to the hot springs is accommodation in the form of small cabins in the woods. The cabins looked very cozy and a good place to warm up as a nice winter retreat. With snow shoeing and cross-country skiing as daytime activities, and the hot springs to warm up in at the end of the day, you will never get bored at the Takhini Resort!

Takhini Hot Springs Lodge

Takhini Hot Springs Cabins Takhini Hot Springs Cabins

Takhini Hot Springs Cabins: Group shot

Next, we were taken to the Whitehorse Museum where we had an opportunity try our hands at gold panning, taste some locally brewed beer and attempt the Sour Toe Cocktail. You’ll find more details about interesting cocktail, continent a mummified human toe in this previous post. You can watch a video of me drinking the cocktail on YouTube.

SourToe Cocktail

SourToe Cocktail Drinking my Sourtoe Cocktail in Whitehorse, Yukon

From the museum the media group was taken to our last stop of the trip, the banquet dinner for the Yukon Quest dog sledding race. (http://www.yukonquest.com/) We were invited to partake in the celebration and announcements of the winners of the 2010 Yukon Quest. We had the honour of meeting the winner and speaking with him about the challenges he experienced over the 1,600 km of rough, sometimes hazardous terrain between Whitehorse, Yukon and Fairbanks, Alaska.

Yukon Quest Hans Gatt, winner of Yukon Quest, a 2 week Dog Sledding Race

We had one final surprise at the Whitehorse airport to round off our Yukon experience as we waited to check in and board our chartered flight back to YVR. Cancan dancers! Pretty sure this is not a regular occurrence for travelers to Whitehorse…

Cancan Dancers at the Whitehorse Airport

After a full day of travel and activities, we arrived back in Vancouver around midnight. It was a nice break, but I was happy to jump back into the Olympics craziness the following day.

I’d like to thank Travel Yukon and Canada’s Northern House for inviting me to come along on the Yukon media trip. It was truly amazing to see such a beautiful part of our country. I know I’ll be back again to see and experience all that Yukon has to offer! This was a once in a lifetime opportunity that will not be forgotten!