Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tips For The Backpacking Couple

So, you are both madly in love, you live together in the city..and you want to experience a glorious travel adventure together!!!! here's some tips for ya'll

1. Dealing with the cash flow:
 What works for us...
-We know we are staying on Phi Phi for 7 days..so we withdraw 7 days worth of money. Currency exchange is the best place, as they do not charge you for your transaction..bank machine charges $5 per trans.
-Make a golden number per day..put aside $ for shelter..(or better yet..pay for a chunk of days at a time)..and divide the remaining funds between you. That way there are no arguments when she wants to buy a dress and cute bag..and he'd rather buy big Chang's all day. You have your OWN MONEY. This is KEY.

2. Alone time:
This is something we all need..even individuals with tons in common! in the best relationships! Even those of us that live together, we spend at least 40 hours per week apart at work!!! So when leaving those jobs to travel abroad, time spent together goes from about 4-5 hours per day..to 12+ !!!!
What works for us..
I like to blog, write emails, upload pics, read other blogs etc. A good time for me to do this is when Shaun feels like taking a nap, or watching TV. That way we both have our time out..At this particular hotel, you can only get WIFI in the lobby..so currently here I am, and he's back in the room watching the tube. Perfect!
Another option that feels like alone time, is laying on the beach with your ipod..you are technically together, but in your own zone. I find alone time is crucial for me to re-charge, and centre. It is difficult for me to go go go..and maintain a good balance emotionally; taking some time out alone is good for a couple..and reminds you that you are individuals in a couple, and not one person!!!! I think about 2-3 hours a day doing your own thing is perfect!
The challenge is the dead zones..when you are in transit..on a 12 hour train ride, when you are waiting for a ferry for half the day...it's easy to get at eachothers' throats..you are both tired, overheated and irritable; but the journey, and the set backs are part of the fun! and those challenging set back days are what will strengthen your relationship! Also allow yourself to be annoyed, it happens!

3. Agreeing on an itinerary:
In my relationship I am the planner, I enjoy researching and collecting data. Shaun does not, and since we happen to have the same travel goals: beach, eat, meet people, fun excursions..it is pretty easy for me to plan a trip he will have fun doing.
If you are both planners: then balance the places you'd like to visit and the activities you want to do in those places..compromise!! Or one person plans the northern thailand route, and the other plans the south..etc!

4. To party or not to party?
This one is a biggie..if you both have the same intentions: get wasted all day every day, then perfect! Or if you are both non drinkers, perfect! BUT if one person wants to party and the other doesn't..what do you do????
Know yourself. I do not like to drink during the day- especially in 35+ degree heat! it makes me feel tired, and lethargic..Shaun is able to drink during the day, and have fun..so he drinks- and I don't. I like to have my first drink around 5pm or later, and that works for me. Neither of us like to stay out till 5am at the bar, so that works for us..but if there is a night I want to drink and Shaun doesn't he will take one for the team, and visa versa- if I want to go to bed early and he doesn't- he will take one for the team. Balance people!!!

5. Meeting people:
-We both like to meet new people..I have found there are many many couples out here, more then I expected..but that people aren't overly friendly (not so far) I haven't experienced anyone just coming up to me and saying hi, and starting a conversation. One night out on the beach, we walked by a cool looking couple, and decided we should walk up and just sit down with them..and it turned out great! we ended up going out for dinner together! So don't even think twice about approaching people..especially if you aren't staying in a dorm, or a backpacker hostel, it can be difficult to meet people..so you have to reach out!

6. Experiencing the emotional spectrum while travelling:
I had a little emotional breakdown, when we arrived in Phuket, because it wasn't what we expected..it was super busy, and un-island like..I was exhausted from the heat and travelling...and I felt like OMG I ruined the trip!!! But in the end, you just have to stay calm, and accept that you will have places you like more then others, and then you move on. You also have to accept eachothers' moods, and allow each other to freak out a little sometimes!

I hope this post helped..if you have any questions..feel free to post!!!


Thailand Beaches on a tiny budget

MY Average day of expenses on Ko Phi Phi
Take note:
The first thing to subtract off your daily budget is shelter..
In order to calculate what my daily budget was going to be, I studied personal travel blogs, as well as sites like Lonely Planet, rough guide, hostel bookers etc etc...make sure the sites you are reading are recent..if it's a blog post from 2010- your budgets going to be way off..prices have def. gone up since then!!!!
I planned on 800 CAD per month..including everything! = Baht 23, 256
The estimated costs of transport (tuk tuk, taxi,train,ferry,bus) were GROSSLY underestimated...based on reading old blog posts..also..make sure the currency converter you are using online is UP TO DATE...
Because we have spent wayy more in transport, and shelter in the first week- the budget went from Baht 1550 per day (775 each) to 900 per day and 450 each. after shelter costs ...BIG  difference!

The price of shelter can range immensely; It depends on your standards.
The options usually go something like this in the "budget" traveller arena:
-Air con or fan
-Private room vs. dorm style (4-12 beds, mixed or same gender)
-Private or shared bathroom and shower

We have stayed in Air con and fan..and honestly the fan isn't bad at all! I was surprised...so far we have only stayed in private rooms because it is cheaper then both of us paying 200-250 baht each to stay in a dorm..

SHELTER (Private fan room, with shared bathroom and shower (in high season-with WIFI)
5 minute walk to beach, 2 seconds to any shop, 7-11, restaurant, food cart
500 Baht per night (our budget max is 400 but as it was high season when we booked- and more expensive on the islands, we couldn't find cheaper)

Thai Iced Coffee:
80 Baht ( I have tried canned 7-11 varieties for 18 Baht..and they just don't cut it)
10 Baht (local Thai brand..blue bottle)
-Thai pancake 40 Baht (comes in tons of flavours..banana, mango, nutella etc...it's basically a thin pastry with fruit inside...very tasty...can't eat one everyday though, as they are fried..) OR
-Pad Thai with egg and veggies 50 Baht

10 Baht
-Green curry with rice (comes separate) 120 Baht (I haven't been able to find this offered by street carts..restaurant only) OR
-Fried Rice with egg and veggie 50 Baht
-Pad Thai with egg and veggie 50 Baht
-Spring roll 20 Baht each

10 Baht
Same options as above..obviously you can order way more of a variety...but I am a vegetarian, and it is surprisingly difficult to find those options here..in Bangkok we could have tofu, but we haven't been able to get it here on Phi Phi)
Cooler (Thai brand) 50 Baht
Chang beer: Big 80 Baht


Clothing from street shops: 
-200+ Baht for T shirts/tanks
-250+ Dresses, Thai fisherman pants
-50-300 Baht

Bamboo tattoo:
-Starts at 1000 Baht for the smallest one..not buy hour, by piece.

Fun excursion: 
-like snorkelling or cliff jumping: 400 Baht per person Half day

Restaurant meal:
-120 baht for red, green, yellow curry and rice
-250+ baht for big pizza

Drinking at bar or beach restaurant:
-90+ baht per drink
-Thai Buckets 250+ Baht depending on type of booze..thai whisky, vodka etc..

Average per day (not including shelter, or purchasing any optionals!) 510 baht
I have about 450 baht each day to spend...and I find I am very thrifty, and don't drink much alcohol, and I always have money left over for the next day. If you drink a lot..you will find you burn your money real fast...
*If you'd like me to look into something specific price-wise, please post!!! I will get back to you ASAP!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Bangkok, ferry to phi phi, Maya Beach, long tail boats, princess siam kittie, braids n beads

In Thailand !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So it is the 7th day that we have been in Thailand..and I have meant to post a million times before now..but simply haven't had a moment to breathe! here's a brief run down:
day 1 april 23Hot and humid night!!arrive in Bangkok hotel at 1am..go out until 3am..drinking beers on the street, and taking in the MADNESS!
day 2 april 24Hot and Sunny BANGKOK woke up at 3:30am in Bangkok, feeling ready for the day (crazy but we did get up-ate pad thai for breakfast..and I had an iced coffee..watching the drunks stumble around in full party mode! LOL)
Spent the day exploring the Khao San road area..shops, and food carts..and Tuk Tuks everywhere! People trying to get us off the street into tailor shops, to get custom made suits and dresses for cheap! Backpackers everywhere..the smells were intense..wafts of incense..then grilling meats..then garbage..then blossoms..then exhaust..just a literal assault on all senses..so deliriously tired..in bed by 6pm
day 3 april 25Hot and Sunny BANGKOKwoke up at 4:30am..ate green curry with rice for breakfast hahah..delicious..enjoyed the rooftop pool...agreed to a Tuk Tuk tour of the temples in the area..sleeping buddha, lucky buddha etc. beautiful! more pool time because wow it was hot..but overcast..and we still got some colour..dinner  and drinks..in bed by 6pm 
*at this point we hadn't had a conversation with anybody in english! only broken attempts at asking for directions etc.
Took the water taxi to the train station..(thought we could save money and decided to walk from the pier to the station..and it took 45 minutes in plus 45 degrees with 2 backpacks each on our backs..i think i actually almost died...made it to train..left at 900pm (1.5 hours late) from station to Surat Thani..Train was awesome! sleeper car..comfy beds and green curtains for privacy..
day 4 april 26 Rain/overcast SURAT THANI/PHUKETWoke up at 6am..had a lovely visit with 2 Irish girls (first conversation in english since arriving) arrived in surat thani at 930am...had a short wait for bus...took bus to Phuket..took cab from train station to Patong Beach in Phuket...(starting to realize that with cabs and trains and buses and tuk tuks that the budget could get severely out of control very quickly...) first impression of Phuket: crazy busy, overwhelming stench of exhaust, to the point where I felt my lungs aching..(and wishing I had one of those clever little face masks that I see Asian people wearing...) cab let us out at a hostel i named that i had read about online..street was raging with motorbikes, cars, cabs, tuks, bicycles, walkers..and NO SIDEWALK.. we were like right in there with the motors..hoping that we wouldn't get hit..wondering WTF is the beach??!!!!!
SO we stop at the first hotel we saw..(the one i had read about online "cheap charlies" gave me an unfriendly weird vibe..and wasn't all that cheap after all..b/c apparently the low season doesn't kick in until may 1) We ended up staying at Cello Hotel..a Norwegian owned vintage boutique style place..very lovely..stayed in a beautiful private room with king size bed, balcony and Air Con..which was totally un-necessary but we just were too tired to take another step. At this point Shaun and I were at each others throats..very irritable and overheated..just wishing that Phuket was a place we could have stayed for longer- but knew that we'd have to move on ASAP.
went to bed at 6pm after getting in a weird fight where I had like a mental breakdown because I felt like I failed as a tour guide, b/c it was I that planned this trip, and Phuket was a last minute change of plans (originally planned on Pattaya, then Ko Chang) but I allowed a tourist information centre employee talk me out of it..and was really regretting that..was overtired and worried that we had already spent way too much money..shaun was fed up as well..and we passed out after me bawling my eyes out for half an hour. Shaun actually said "I just want to go home" and my heart literally shattered. I wanted so badly for everything to be perfect...but then realized that this is self guided travel- it's a discovery, it has ups and downs..it is not an all-inclusive..this was hard work! but we can do it!!!
day 5 april 27Pouring Rain/super hot PHUKET/PHI PHIDecided that we were just overtired the night before, and that everything would work out fine b/c it usually does in the end for us..
After we booked 2 open ended ferry tickets..one to Ko Phi Phi and then on to Krabi ...we were walking down the street in the pouring rain, hoping that we made the right decision buying these tickets when we were pulled off the street by a salesman, after we scratched a card and were told we won a prize, if we'd listen to a presentation...so we spent the morning listening to a 90 minute presentation at a posh hotel drinking free coffee...and at the end won 7 days at a resort just for sticking around and listening to the hotels new form of marketing !!!!! which we have a year to redeem, and will use it for Spain..btw :) take ferry to Ko Phi Phi...WOW. it is overcast..but the sun was trying to come out..drank a couple of Chang beers..and chatted with two gentleman from England...arrived on phi phi and found a private room for b500 per night..booked it for 7 days....had an  awesome day/night exploring phi phi..and our worries vanished..we had ARRIVED IN PARADISE..met some guys from quebec..drank beers and watched the awesome fire dancers on the beach with blaring dubstep remixes of random songs like Papa Roaches "last resort" we
day 6 april 28 SUPER HOT PHI PHI snorkelling in the amazing Andaman Sea, feeding monkeys, exploring Maya Island- where they filmed the movie the beach ...which I must mention..was what inspired me to want to come to Thailand when I first saw it in high school..and a million times since then :) laying around on the beach.got real crispy even while using a sunblock with SPF 70!!!!! wtf?!!!.discovering what food carts are the cheapest..realizing that if we bought a "big chang" beer from 7-11 it costs 55-60 baht..rather then purchasing one at a restaurant for 80-90 baht!!! also, realizing that the "Pornthip Drinking Water" from thailand is 10 baht as opposed to the recognizable brands..like Evian for 40-60 baht...best food deal so far: Pad Thai with scrambled egg and veggies for b50....WOW...met a cool Canadian couple from Toronto..had drinks and pizza with them..and watched the fire dancers for a bit before retiring to our quartres at 10pm
day 7 april 29 SUPER DUPER HOT PHI PHI finally woke up at a normal time ..8am..had pad thai for breakfast..a canned ice coffee from 7-11 for b18...not worth it..much better to spend the b80 and get a fresh thai iced coffee from a cart..wholly shit! it's my 28th BIRTHDAY... whoahh...I get my hair braided for my b-day present soooo fun! hit up the beach..it's sooo damn hot! I'm feeling really good today..very well rested..i think my jet lag is gone..my brain isn't buzzing like crazy..i feel relaxed and comfortable where i am...i met a nice girl on the beach from france..had lunch together..decided to go back to the room for a rest...shaun fell asleep and I sent emails and wrote this crazy blog post..summarizing my 7 days here so far..but not giving the real emotion and detail that i hope to convey..BUT..now that i am caught up..it will be MUCH easier to go into detail, as everything will be SUPER FRESH in my mind. alright. now it is 6pm and i need to go wake shaun up..:)
love x love x love x 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

I made the itoxic piece last night for my Graphic Design portfolio :)

It's officially been 21 DAYS !!!

Wow I can't believe I've been a Vegetarian for almost a month.

I really feel connected to the earth on a whole other level. It's intense, but like I feel like not eating meat has given me a spiritual connection to everything- plants, people, animals. It's like an energy field that I couldn't feel or access before, but now is open to me.
During one of my usual "research sessions" on the internet, I stumbled across a blog that talked about the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, this girl was a graduate and she said it changed her life.
I looked up the school, and am 100% going to make it happen that I take the one year online course to become a HEALTH COACH.
This is incredibly exciting! I can't afford to enrol today sadly, but I have decided to start in September, which gives me enough time to save. In 5 months I feel like I can learn a lot on my own through reading books and online, and by September I will be 100% integrate and living breathing my new lifestyle!!!
The program only demands 5-10 hours of study per week, and it's a flexible program where you have a week to learn the material and 2 weeks to write a test. Six months into the program you are able to start taking on clients. By the end of the year you are certified by American Association of Drugless Practitioners and you can also receive college credits to go towards furthering your education if desired.
I'm really excited for this, and am confident I can do this program as well as my Graphic Design program!!!! What a wonderful life we live!

magical journey

Well I am on a journey to wellness in body mind spirit, as cheesy as it sounds-it's true. I have never felt better! We leave on our road trip to visit my dad in Wisconsin on April 18th, which is in 10 days (not including today or the 18th) and I am BEYOND pumped. I'm so excited to tour Madison, check out the small town of Lodi where my dad lives, and spend a day chillin in CHICAGO BABY!!!
Then on April 22 we embark on a dream trip to THAILAND..AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I can't even believe it is happening! I have plotted a very loose itinerary which I can outline here for you guys!

CHICAGO-TOKYO (2 hour layover..take a million pictures of people!!!!)

-arrive at night
-2 nights booked at the Rambuttri Village Inn (near Khao San Road aka. backpacker mecca)
-check out Khao San, and spend as much time as we'd like.

SURAT THANI (take overnight train from BKK)

PHUKET (take bus from Surat Thani)
-stay as long as we like..5 days?
-visit Ko Phi Phi Lei and Ko Phi Phi Don

-stay here for a number of days
-stay here for a number of days


PENANG, MALAYSIA (take overnight train from Phuket)
-roughly 8 hour journey
-can spend a couple days here if we like?

KUALA LUMPUR (roughly 4 hour train ride)

-stay here for 2 days or so

SURAT THANI (overnight train from Singapore)

KO SAMUI (take ferry from Surat Thani)
-will be here roughly May 19-23 ish

-Full Moon Party May 24-30 rent beach hut



-From here we go north on the train




*If we would like we can travel into VIETNAM but this will be based on how much money we have left by this point in our journey.

-Hit up markets
-Get tattoo's EEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!

fly back to North America


*spend the whole day in San Fran


*Spend 3 or 4 days relaxing at dad's house before driving back to Winnipeg!

whole foods. plant based. super herbs. superfoods. i heart my new lifestyle!!!!!

I LOVE bows! and my attempt at an ombre!!!!

Lovely teacup- a gift from my grandmother Wilhemina Louise Purdy

April 7 2013

We went out last night to a friends birthday house party, and we had a mini jam..shaun was on the drums, and we all took turns on the mic-what an awesome night!
I woke up this morning with a bit of a headache, since I haven't been drinking much lately..but nothing that a teacup of delicious coffee made in my french press can't fix!!! My gramma gave me this french press, and it belonged to her mother!!! There's something magical about teacups, especially ones handed down to you from your grandmother. We've become accustomed to guzzling these huge cups of coffee, and it's nice to have a tiny beautiful teacup to sip from- so elegant!

Monday, April 1, 2013

An excerpt from my journal (aka: my cellphone)

I wrote this on March 25

"Wow do I feel alive today!! I'm at the lake..I am laying on my coat in the snow..feeling the wonderful warmth from the sun! The sky is clear, and there is a slight breeze, that comes in waves rustling through the pines..It's so nice to just lay out here in the woods and listen to the silence..
I am just feeling SO alive and connected!! I haven't felt like this for a lonng time..genuine connection..is it all because of becoming a vegetarian? I think it's also getting interested in Superfoods and Superherbs and really feeling interested in something real..I've been searching for so long.."

I wrote some more words on that day, but will choose to keep them to myself, just as a wish is to be kept to ones' self when a birthday candle is blown out. I don't want to jinx it!

This brings me to the next topic of conversation..I was reading my fave blog ever "Gala Darling" the other day, and she linked to a bunch of other blogs on various topics, and there was one post that talked about what I call "Projection." This is a tool for aligning ones' self with the universe, the laws of attraction, the source energy etc..to get the desired result. She also posted a video of Will Smith talking about how you can be whoever you want to be, the power of Alchemy, and creating your destiny etc..and I realized that I frequently engage in this type of activity, and did just that on March 25th at the lake.
I often will reflect on my life as if I was at the end, or already gone, which really puts things into perspective pretty quickly. (Gala also posted a Ted Talks relating to this subject: Rethinking the Bucket List) But my favourite thing to do is the visualization of imagining the person you want to be, the job you have, the way your home looks, the way it smells, your daily life, the city you live in, the way you feel, the food you eat etc..and really really feel it, live it for those moments in your mind, see it, taste it, BELIEVE IT. I honestly believe that I will reach the place that I want to be, and not necessarily a physical place, but a true connection to my purpose, my source energy (the Laws of Attraction) if I visualize, if I focus my energy on this path, the Universe will guide me in the right direction!

Day 15 Vegetarian

Well it's been 12 days since my last post, and that is wayyy too long! I have been insanely busy with work, and when not working I am sleeping!
Here's what I have noticed in the last 15 days without meat:
1. I am eating WAY more bread then I did before. I'm guessing that I am trying to replace the meat with something "hearty" and bread is the easiest most affordable "filler" that I have access too.
2. I feel slimmer in the stomach area.
3. I am running out of things to eat! I have def. reached a point where I need to invest in a vegetarian cookbook, or just hit up some online recipes and get a little more creative.

What have I been eating?
We tried out a variety of faux meat processed products, which I am sort of on the fence about. I am beginning to feel guilty about eating them because they are processed. We decided to try them out because we went out to the cabin, and wanted some easy go-to meals that required little preparation. So we bought a vegan italian "sausage" with roasted red pepper by Tofurky brand, and "meatless" burgers by Gardein. We ate the sausages initially in buns with ketchup and mustard and cheddar cheese and they were phenomenal, then we had them the next night cut up in a tomato sauce with whole wheat pasta. The meatless burgers were fantastic and we ate those on a whole wheat bun with all the fixings..When we got home we bought some breaded "chicken" cutlets, and have been eating those in BUNS. SOOOOO ALL I'M EATING IS BREAD BREAD BREAD. I also feel weird about the chicken burgers, because they really really taste like chicken, and I don't want to eat chicken!!! so why am I eating them?!!!! I think it's been fun to try these products out, but after out current stock depletes, I won't be making these products constants on my grocery list. I will keep them reserved for summer BBQ's.
I have also been eating:
1.Stir fried veggies with basmati rice
2.Stir fried veggies with rice noodles
3.Grilled cheese and soup
4.Veggie burgers (homemade) out of kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, garlic, cinnamon (initially a mistake thinking it was curry but turned out well) curry, siracha sauce, egg whites, and chopped up kale, chard and spinach. They turned out to be pretty tasty, but I literally had to bake them for an hour to get that burger consistency- other wise they would have fallen apart. So the result was over cooked- especially when re-heating in the microwave at work! I ate a few with bun, but now am eating them by themselves, they or OK, but due to the dryness need a dipping sauce, which adds calories and fat I don't want in my diet.
5.Kale/Chard/Spinach greens with tomato, green peppers, onion, hemp hearts, and store bought balsamic vinegarette.
6.TOAST for breakfast

I have been trying to cut down on my coffee, sugar, and cheese consumption. I have been mildly successful in each category. The sugar being the hardest vice to cut out.

My goals for the next 17 days:
1.ADD IN Tofu (cube and put in stir fries) to phase out processed meatless products
2.ADD IN superfood smoothies to phase out boring toast for breakfast (get blender)
3.ADD IN Tea (no milk, no sugar) to phase out coffee from my daily regime
4.ADD IN Fruit!! Fresh!! like mango, strawberries, blueberries, apples, oranges, peaches, papaya to phase out candy, chocolate, cookies
5.ADD IN Goji Berries (to tea)
6.ADD IN vegan butter spread phase out margarine, and mayonais
7.ADD IN Water. This is so difficult for me at work and not having a water bottle, I may need to bute the bullet and buy one this week. FOR REAL?!!!!!

My main obstacle right now is that we are leaving on our trip to Thailand in 17 days, and we are on spending lockdown. Meaning- NO SPENDING MONEY on anything but absolute necessity (gas, tampons, bills, basic food requirements) This doesn't include throwing out the margarine I already have and purchasing Vegan spread, or throwing out the loaves of bread in the freezer. So I am going to have to make do with Shaun bringing home trays of veggies from work so we can make stir fries. I can def. honour the majority of goals on my list though :)