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Tag Archives: Travel

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

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

Source: http://www.nikonusa.com

Island Time

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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.

Bangkok: Grand Palace

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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!



Everything Happens for a Reason…

“Everything happens for a reason.” When “shit” happens this is something we tell ourselves and want to believe. Is it true? Who knows? But it is something we cling to because it is somehow comforting and helps get us through the rough patches of life… Ice Hotel, entrance

The last two and a half years I have been through quite the roller coaster. I’ve experienced emotions I never knew existed and have felt them to my core. I think I’ve become guarded and jaded from the experience, but I have learned a lot through it as well, and that is always for the better…

I’ve started to reclaim my independence out of this experience, which I had lost somewhere along the way. This was the first time in a very long while that I did not have a partner and two children to consider in all that I did… It felt so strange at first, that I became somewhat of a hermit and didn’t do much of anything at all for a while. This was me until I recognized that this was very unhealthy and directing me toward depression. So to turn things around, I promised myself that Belize 2009: The Blue Holeif I was invited to do something (no matter what that something was) I would say yes and do it.

Out of this commitment, I have had many incredible experiences. I have slept in the ice hotel in Quebec, started scuba diving again, swam with sharks in the Blue Hole in Belize, went to the Yukon for a day (that’s right, a DAY trip), visited Northern British Columbia, spent a month on Bali, Indonesia, and experienced the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Vancouver in a way I never could have imagined! I  have done more traveling in the past 2 years than probably in my entire life and have had experiences that I couldn’t have dreamed up!

Canola fieldsAll I can say is that if things had not happened the way they did, I would never have seen or experienced any of these incredible things, nor would I be taking a 7 week trip to Southeast Asia at the end of this month!

So I reiterate, everything happens for a reason… My previous life feels like exactly that these days, a PREVIOUS life. Almost like a foggy dream. Not to say that I don’t treasure the memories that I collected in those years, because I do. I can honestly say that I had some of the best times of my life in those days. I was happier than I had ever been and had a partner and two beautiful children to share that with. Ubud Wanderings 78 I prefer to remember the good things rather than dwell on how things ended. The roller coaster took me through many things: sadness, pain, heart-break, depression, and all the “fun” things that go along with that. But on the other hand, when you roll it all up into a moment of life, it has made me a stronger person. So whatever the reason that things happened the way they did, it was meant to be. So here I am! Ready for life’s next adventure and whatever comes along with that…

Next stop: Thailand!


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!

Daily Photo: Off the Beach in Sanur, Bali

On my last day in Bali, Indonesia, I visited Sanur on the way to the Denpasar airport. This was one of the views I was faced with. Bali is truly beautiful island, I look forward to the day I will visit again.

Sanur, Bali 24

Daily Photo: Spanish Fisherman

This fisherman was mending the nets just off the docks in Cartagena, Spain.

Fixing the nets in Spain

An Adventure in Belize

After flying into Cancun and spending 5 days relaxing on the Mayan Riviera, it was off to Belize!

This involved a bus from Playa del Carmen to Chetumal in the south of Mexico, about a 3 hour bus ride. From there, another bus took us across the border to Belize. After a stop at the border to clear customs and the $20USD entrance tax, the bus took us to Corozal, where we would take a passenger ferry to San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. Unfortunately, we had just missed the last boat of the day (there are two per day), so we found ourselves a hotel near the dock, and soon we were headed out and to find ourselves some tasty Belizean 1-Barrel rum cocktails and fresh lobster! Mmm!

The next morning, we caught the 7am ferry across to San Pedro. On the boat we met Jack, an American who owns a house on the island with several suites that he rents out to travelers and vacationers. Chez Caribe! A great place to call home during your stay in San Pedro! There are 3 studio suites and a 3 bedroom suite that makes up the entire top floor of the house. Having no accommodation plan, we checked it out and found our temporary home and a lifelong friend in Jack.

Belize 2009 Belize 2009

Belize 2009

We spent our days in San Pedro, biking around, exploring, eating lobster and drinking rum at the Canucks Bar, swimming and relaxing. But most importantly, and most exciting, we did some DIVING! We took a day trip out to the Blue Hole! It was a 3-dive trip with dives at the Blue Hole, the Aquiarium and Halfmoon Wall, with a lunch break on Halfmoon Caye where we saw loads of red footed boobies. Absolutely amazing! Beautiful clear water, amazing sea life, and an overall amazing experience!

Belize 2009 Belize 2009: The Blue Hole

Belize 2009: The Blue Hole

Belize 2009: Halfmoon Caye Belize 2009: Halfmoon Caye

Belize 2009: Red footed boobies

From Ambergris, we headed to Caye Caulker. We had heard so much about it, so were looking forward to checking it out. Jack volunteered to take us to the island on his boat, the L’il Bus. On the way we did some fishing, saw a beautiful rainbow and outran a storm!

Upon arrival at Caye Caulker, we had one of the locals help us find a place to stay and we ended up at a great place with little cabins right on the beach (the name escapes me). Loved it! The following day we took a photowalk of the island, ate lobster, met some great people, shopped at the local vendors, and drank a whole lot of rum! We planned to stay on the island a few days, but there is a saying, “I spent a week on Caye Caulker one day!” And its pretty accurate! It is a beautiful place, and I’m happy to have visited the island, but after a day and a half, we felt as though we had been there for about a week! So we enjoyed one last night of lobster and coconut rum cocktails and caught the passenger ferry back to San Pedro in the morning.

Belize 2009: Caye Caulker, Go Slow Belize 2009

Belize 2009

Belize 2009 Belize 2009

Belize 2009

When we got off the boat, we walked right into a tropical rain storm! It was crazy! We were soaked instantly! So we found refuge in the Canucks Bar until the rain stopped and then made our way back to Chez Caribe.

Two more days in San Pedro, and it was time to head back up towards Mexico. Rather than catching the ferry back to the mainland, we decided to check out Belize from the air and took a flight back to Corozal. We were up against another rain storm that day and I actually walked across the tarmac to the plane in my bare feet because there was six inches of water on the ground! A memorable moment indeed! When the rain subsided a bit, we took off and once we cleared the rain clouds, we had an absolutely gorgeous view!

Belize 2009 Belize 2009

Belize 2009

We made it back to Playa del Carmen that day, where we spent our last two nights before heading back to Cancun to catch our flight home. We spent the the time shopping, soaking up our last bit of sun, and enjoying our last few margaritas before heading back to winter in Vancouver!

For more photos from Belize, please visit the set on Flickr.