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I saw this mother and baby in Baku National Park in Sarawak, Borneo on my early morning stroll

Having shown photos of my last trip to a few of my friends, it always seems to be the monkey shots that get the most ooooo’s and aaaaaa’s. And I have to admit, catching a mini monkey clinging to his mom is pretty adorable. But I certainly didn’t love these  these macaque monkeys everywhere I went. In fact, I ran away from them fearing an attack on more than one occasion.

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Postcards that I’ve received and look at daily as I walk to my front door:D

 

Do you  dread the mail as much as I do? Bills and junk and nothing too exciting? Is a picturesque postcard simply a blast from the past? From a time when facebook, twitter and gmail didn’t even exist? Well, it was a good time-as much as technology made communication for travellers easier, the good ‘ol postcard still has a place in my heart.

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When I lived in London England, I thought life back in Vancouver was boring. No big city lights, 24/7 action or history that is recognized around the world. Sure London life was amazing, but now that I’m back living on Canadian soil, I can’t help but stick my tongue out at my former self. On Monday, there was a pod of 6 orca whales chasing a seal. Beat that London! Ironically, it was English Bay that they were swimming around in.

Spyhopping orcas in English Bay!

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Before I set off on a trip anywhere in the world, I take advantage of looking through the travel guides at work. Sometimes it’s a picture of a magestic mountain or gorgeous half naked man on the beach, sometimes it’s an unusual stat that I’m intrigued by. It can be a story I heard from so and so, or a geographic feature that is different to anything I have ever seen before. Whatever the case, I buy a ticket with a few of those points in mind.

As my recent trip to the Philippines was a surprise even to me, I didn’t have any of those facts or figures to direct me. Now having experienced, and continuing to write about my explorations there, I have found the research that I have done to support my writing, has inspired me to put the country on the top of my ‘to return to soon‘ list. It has reminded me that knowing just a few quick facts about a place can inspire a curious mind to travel – maybe a glance over my top 20 facts will inspire you too.

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For the most part, when you spend time with a local it will enrich your holiday more than any guidebook ever can. Meeting my first resident Filipino with a name that sounds like a movie star, was certainly no exception.

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Val Sandiego and I enjoying a garden chat

As I walked through the streets of Pari-an in Cebu City, I was destination bound to a few of the attractions circled on my map. The Yap SanDiego Museum was not one of those destinations, but the unique beauty of the house did stop me in my tracks. The aged wooden exterior walls were a stark contrast to the decrepit art deco building next door and other grungy building fronts nearby. I popped my head into the open window and was overwhelmed with vases and figurines tucked into every available space of the low ceilinged room. The collections had a bit of a spookiness to them, accentuated by low lighting. A staffer appeared and mentioned the 70 peso entry cost. I scanned the building for a few seconds and walked away. Mistake numero uno.

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Travel is all about experience: taking in new sights, smells and sounds to overload the senses with everything outside of your ordinary. The invigoration is intoxicating and finding the balance of that exciting travel sense and a regular routine back home, is an art form. Glancing at photos and simply letting the mind wander is a trigger back to that travelling happy place. But for me? I need something more. I like to have some material items in my life to jog my memory.

This is the gift table after my Asia trip! (including some gifts for myself!)

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If you’ve read ‘Manic in the Malls’ you’ll know that I’m not a fan of shopping. But here’s where I’ll turn the tables- I LOVE TO SHOP!

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Night Market Vientiane Laos

 

The variables in a shopping environment are key for both retailers and consumers. I like the relaxed feel, earthy colours if possible, and most importantly, personality in the surroundings. If the store is actually a tarp spread out on a dusty ground, even better-I hate the feeling of four walls and too much stuff to look at. A good deal, an initial need or desire for the product and anything that simply makes me feel ultra good, are all factors too.

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I was once asked by a women’s magazine street surveyor if I was a die hard shopper.

I don’t like lining up to pay, I don’t like paying too much, I don’t like the effect of big brands or corporations, I don’t like consumer crowds, I don’t like malls, I don’t like trying on lots of clothes, I don’t I don’t I don’t…

Once I finished my rant, the barbie doll holding the clipboard made a big X under ‘no’ and approached another passer-by. That encounter stuck with me and I’ve always thought of myself as a ‘shop when I have to’ kind of gal.

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Just looking at this makes me tense up - too much shoppiing!

 

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Stanley has always reminded me of three things.
1=Mr. Roper on Three’s Company (you can hear it now right? “Oh Stanley!”)
2=The beautiful park in the middle of Vancouver that refreshes every city dwellers soul.
3=The area on Hong Kong island that I’ve never yet made it to…UNTIL NOW!

 

 

 

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If I had arrived at the Batu Caves a couple of months earlier, I would have competed with 1.5 million people celebrating at the Thaipusam festival. I may have got my picture on the cover of National Geographic magazine as the only white girl in the vicinity. Watching devotees being pierced across their back and allowing their bodies to hang from a chariot, while others willed no blood to drop from the multiple hooks put through their cheeks, might have spooked me a little, but travel is about education right? Right. And National Geographic does a fine job of covering it. I only competed for personal space with fifty other tourists and some annoying monkeys that kept blocking my path. I was there to see the caves, the Lord Murugan Statue and gawk at photos of the festival held earlier in the year.

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