Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Year Resolutions for 2011

This year for my resolutions I have decided on... NONE.

I have decided to just keep focused on my 30B430 goals. I want to knock most of those puppies out of the park before I move on to other things. I don't want to overwhelm myself with two sets of goals. I like my current goals and I think its a well rounded bunch so I'm going to stick with it.

If you are new to my blog you can check out the goals I have set from the above labeled tab or from my sidebar on the right.

There's also the fact that this year will be full of a lot of unknowns. I will return to Canada in February after a year of traveling. I dont know where I'll work, where I'll live, how much I will be making or anything really. So I'm not going to put any extra pressure on myself until I get settled back in.

So there you have it. No resolutions for me.

What is your number one resolution for 2011?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fresh Coat of Paint

I decided to try out some new templates. I was most attracted to this one. The colors are very me. However its quite dark. I wanted something drastic and that would show my photos better. Its likely temporary as I have arranged to have some work done on my header by a friend. I have a very specific idea in mind and I'm hoping he can make it happen for me. He's in the middle of redoing his own blog so I wont approach him until I'm back home in February.

Likey? No likey?

Monday, December 27, 2010

My FREE trip to Hong Kong Highlights and Lowlights

Well I promised a post about my 7 days in Hong Kong so here it is my lovelies!

Highlights - All the things I loved about Hong Kong

Victoria Peak
I highly recommend a trip to the top of Victoria Peak. We took a ferry across to Central and then rode what felt like the worlds longest escalator. From there we walked across a free zoo and biological garden which had all sorts of animals including monkeys and racoons. From there we caught the tram up to the peak. The tram is a little freaky because it goes up an incredibly steep hill and its a fun experience in itself.

The view from the Peak is stunning. Great photo opportunity! We payed the extra fee to go up to the viewing platform. It was only a few bucks with the exchange rate for us but to be frugal I should tell you that you can still see a pretty awesome view from inside the shopping area but I think its much nicer to go to the top where you can be outside. Pick a nice day to do this otherwise the smog can ruin it. We went on a cold day so we only went outside for 20 minutes and once you go back inside you can't go out again which is lame. We only saw the view during the day but a friend told me later the view at night is spectacular. Maybe next time.

Junk Boat Harbour Tour

BF somehow learned that the visitor info center offers a tourist discount on Junk Boat Harbour tours. Its an authentic boat too. We toured on this boat for $100HKD each when its usually $500. Afterward we found an ad for $50 but no biggie. You just have to show your passport to get the deal. This was so much fun!!! Once you get on board they put up the sails and off you go. They drive you around the harbour and the city skyline view is amazing. There was probably only 8 other people on the boat so its not crowded at all. It picks you up on one side of the harbour and drops you off on the other. I really enjoyed this and was super impressed with BF for finding it for us. :)

*Note* The visitor center offers a few good deals. There was a Chinese cake cooking class but it was already full when I tried to book. Get there early on in your trip to book ahead. The class would have been $30HKD. I was sad to miss out.

Po Lin Monastery

This is a great place to visit because not only do you get to visit a temple but its within walking distance to the Big Buddha which I feel is a must do for sure. We bought a bus ticket that was $35 each which was good all day for bus tours around Lantau Island. I felt a sense of calm here. There are a lot of tourists but its not overly crazy. We bought tickets to go the belly of the buddha which was interesting but not really necessary. Again, as things were cheap we were ready to try a lot of things.

Tai-O Fishing Village

While your on Lantau Island use your bus pass to check out Tai-O. This was a place I really wanted to visit and wasn't disappointed. There were hardly any tourists and it was beautiful. You can take a dolphin boat tour for cheap, check out the market, take a long walk along the waters edge and see the homes on stilts in the water. We spent a few hours walking from end to end. Everyone uses bikes here for transportation. It was super quiet and peaceful. We stayed until sunset before heading back. It was nice to get away from the big cities and see this tiny fishing village.

Temple of 10,000 Buddhas

This temple was another stunner. You climb a big long winding path to the temple. Along the path on both sides are hundreds of Buddhas. Lots of picture opportunities. Once you get to the top there are great views and a temple with literally 10,000 Buddhas along the wall. Its amazing.

Symphony of Lights

You have to do this. Its free and its fun. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday the commentary is in English. We did it just before Christmas so there was a lot of extra lights for the holidays. We wanted to go a second time (its nightly at 8pm) but didnt find the time.

Markets

I really loved the Temple Street Night Market. It was super close to where we were staying and it was a great place to haggle on prices to get a good deal. The electric buzz of the night market is awesome. There is everything you could want foodwise and people are having a great time all around you. It was the best market I went to. Don't be afraid to make low ball offers here as they expect it and they price a little high.

*Note* I visited other markets such as Stanley and I give the rest a thumbs down in comparision

Museums

It rained all day Wednesday while we were there. Luckily the museums are free on Wednesday. Score! We only had time to visit the Hong Kong Museum of History. We paid $10HKD to rent audio tour headsets. Waste of money! Everything was bilingual and the audio tour sucked so after listening to it for 10 minutes I just took it off. The museum was great though. Lots of videos and displays.

Transportation

Hong Kong is super easy to get around using public transit. Always have smaller cash on hand for boarding buses. The subway you can buy tickets for no sweat. The ferry tokens are super cheap too. Everything is very accessible and English is everywhere. Very convienent.

Food

Only the best and most important topic of all. The food was delicious. We tried a ton of new foods and dishes. We looked for cheap places and then chose a lot of items. I cannot tell you how much my tummy enjoyed the experience.


The Lowlights

Ok. Hong Kong was great but there were some things that really annoyed us.

1) Fake Monks! BF got had twice by fake monks. (sigh). Once we were going into the underground subway tunnel and a monk stopped us and gave us each a golden piece of paper. He acted like he wanted us to sign a book that wanted just our name and where we were from. BF did this and then the monk lifted his finger from the last column which asked you to state your financial contribution. Red flags for me! BF however has the biggest heart in the world and so he offered the man $100HKD (you should have seen the amounts other people offered - crazy). The man took it and smiled. Then in the book beside BF's name he wrote $200 and looked at him sadly and then pointed to me.

BF reached in his pocket. I was already pissed about this and so I stepped in and said "NO" in a loud voice. I tried to give back the paper but the monk refused. BF was like a deer in the headlights. The monk then put a bracelet on BF's arm and touched his heart and then BF's and pointed again to the $2oo written in his book. I grabbed BF and said "we're going". Then I gave BF a long lecture about how fake that situation was. To me it was obviously a scam but to gentle BF he was just trying to help out. :( I promised not to lecture him anymore if he promised not to hand out anymore money.

At the temple of $10,000 Buddhas as we were climbing the hill we came along two monks. Both with bowls that they put out to us. BF looked at me and asked if I had any small bills. I looked at him and said "No, I dont" and gave him a look. He didnt catch it and put $20HKD in the mans bowl. Immediately the second monk jumped forward and put his bowl into BF's face. Again I said "NO", grabbed BF and took off up the hill.

Once we were at the top a big sign was posted warning tourists not to give to the fake monks. Monks can only beg for food and not money. If you see people doing this please report it to the police. BF was heartbroken. I was annoyed. I was mad that it took him getting scammed twice and having to see the sign to realize it was wrong. We still donated to the temple though. No reason to let them suffer because of those jerks. On the way down they were gone of course.

2) Overcharge!

When you go to restaurant be careful with pricing. There seems to be two different price lists going on if you know what I mean. One for tourists. One for locals. That is annoying in itself but then they overcharge you later. BF let people get away with this too many times and finally I put a stop to that. He didnt want to fight with people in a foreign country with language barriers but I felt that we had to stand our ground and not get walked on. So keep an eye on the price of your food for when the bill arrives in the end.

3) Hawkers

They are pretty aggresive. Everywhere you go there is a man pushing a flyer at you or shouting out he can sell you a pretty knock off designer bag. BF took a flyer once and then 4 men leaped out of nowhere and started following him for like 20 feet trying to convince him to take theirs too. It made me nervous at first but the I learned to put on my unfriendly face and shake my head before they got a word out. Once I got used to it and learned to ignore them it wasn't so bad.



Well there you have it. Overall I loved it and would love to go back a second time and see more. I take home with me some great gifts for family but even better a lot of great experiences and beautiful photos of BF and I.

Oh.... did I mention this trip was free? Yes well we fly with Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong is their main hub. We always do a quick layover there so we asked if we could do a seven day layover instead. No problem! Yay! Of course we had to pay for accomodation and food but it was so worth it. I should note that we had to pay $120HKD each when leaving. Not a big deal for a weeks stay in a beautiful, exciting place. Cathay rocks!

Any questions or comments?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry HoHoDay

Its Christmas day here in Thailand. One day ahead of most of my readers. I just finished my group Skype call with my family. I miss them so much!

I have never been much of an xmas day fan. I'm more of a Halloween kind of girl. When xmas rolls around I get quite stressed. Planning dinner, buying gifts, trying to get everyone together and so forth. Sometimes I have wished just to skip the whole thing.

Being away this year has opened my eyes a little. I miss the comforts of home. I realize I enjoy finding that perfect special gift for each person. I like baking cookies with my mom and my niece or my friends. I love cooking turkey dinner with my brother. I miss turkey, gravy and potatoes. Most of all I miss opening the xmas crackers and laughing at each other as we put on the paper crowns and read out the corny jokes that are always duplicated. Then we trade the junk toys inside. Tradition, I miss it.

This morning we got up early. Its xmas eve for our families. I went out and most of the street vendors were not there. Not sure if it was too early or if people are staying home today. We had chicken on a stick, roasted bananas (BF not me, ew ), sugar donuts, fresh oranges and caffeine drinks. I wish it was real Canadian bacon, eggs, toast and hashbrowns.

My brother just moved from the island across Canada to Waterloo. He will be alone where he is with only the cat he is housesitting. He has plans to cook himself a big hearty breakfast to celebrate his morning tomorrow. Then he will open the cards from our parents he was given before leaving.

I will try to go online tonight so I can see my niece opening her presents in the morning. Then I will wake up and speak to them before their big dinner together. My mom, siblings, niece, nephew and uncle will all be there. I miss them. Thank god for Skype where at least we can be together for awhile and see each others faces.

What is everyone else doing for the holiday this year?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

HK Pics R Up

I've uploaded some Hong Kong pictures. I plan to include a post telling you guys everything I did while I was there soon. I am lucky to have WIFI again in my guesthouse here in Bangkok!
Temple Street Night Market

Yummy dinner. (egg and shrimp noodles for me, spicy frog for bf)



Pathway to 10,000 Buddha Monastery


10,000 Buddha Monastery





Mmm Almond Angel Cake

Stanley Market


The Junk Boat we sailed on




Symphony of lights!



Our room
Subway crunch to get on the escalator

Sunset at Tai-O


Tai-O Fishing Village Market



Tai-O Fishing Village




The Big Buddha
Stairway to the big Buddha

Behind the Po Lin Monastery


Inside the Po Lin Monastery



Po Lin Monastery




Hong Kong Pics

Dim Sum Mmmmm
View from Victoria Peak

Chestnut roasting street vendor



Ceilling display at the Hong Kong History Museum


Our hotel bathroom. You can shower, use the toilet and shave your legs all at the same time :)




Sunday, December 19, 2010

Last Night in HK

So tonight is our last night in Hong Kong. We've had a blast and wish we could stay a few more days but its off to Thailand we go. I promise a full report with pictures soon! :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

NZ Pics R Up

Since BF is sleeping in this morning I decided to sneak in a few quick blog posts that I was behind in. I wanted to share a few New Zealand pictures with you guys.

New Zealand was an amazing place. It reminded me a lot of home in BC Canada which was good because 10 months into traveling I have been quite homesick at times. It was a good time to visit as the weather was lovely but my allergies hated the spring time flowers. We only had enough time to visit parts of South Island NZ but it is supposed to be the most impressive in a natural sense. I would definitely go back and spend a month on each island if I can get the chance in the future.

My favorite spot of all was Wharariki Beach in Golden Bay. The giant rock arches were spectacular. I could sit there all day to admire them. The trail there takes you through rolling green hills packed with tiny sheep. The you come across sand dunes that you cross to get to the beach. There were a few seals rolling around in the sand. We decided to explore the area. We found tiny paths all over the place. We went a lot farther than anyone else that day and we were rewarded with views that stunned us. We sat for an hour just taking it all in.

My second favorite spot was Mt Cook which is NZ's highest peak. The Edmond Hillary Alpine Center is there. Very informative and a must do if you visit. We watch 5 movies at the planitarium which were all pretty good. BF took a 9 hour hike to get closer to the peak. He loves trails and mountain climbing. We spent two days there because it was jut so impressive.

We were able to visit two glaciers. Franz Josef glacier was the first one. I took a short walk to a pool (pic shown below) to view the glacier. BF took two more demanding walks to see it closer up. The second one we saw was Fox glacier where we took a walk together to the glacier. I preferred Fox glacier. I thought it was beautiful and the river and pools of water were a beautiful ice color.

We splurged on a plane trip from Wanaka to Milford Sound in Fjordland National Park. I am not a fan of heights or small places but I faced my fear and away we went. You can really feel every tiny gust of wind in a plane that small. Just sayin. The views were amazing. The mountain ranges, glaciers, ocean and fjords were out of this world. It was definitely worth doing but I'm not sure I'm in a hurry to get on another 6 passenger plane anytime soon. The flight took us to Milford Sound to the famous Mitre Peak where we took a boat ride which went right under a stunning waterfall. So fun!

When we bought our plane tickets they gave us free tickets to a place in Wanaka called "Puzzle World". I finally got to achieve one of my life goals of doing a giant maze. It was so ridiculously fun. I laughed my ass off the entire time.

Another great rock formation to visit was the Pancake Rocks. Layers of rock stacked ontop of eachother right along the ocean. I found it really interesting.

The seals at Kaikoura were totally awesome. About an hour north of there we saw road signs that said "Seal Colony next 4 Km". Sure enough there was probably about 80 of them. They were playing and jumping in and out of the water. I loved seeing them so close but undisturbed.

The last place we visited was a film scene from Lord of the Rings. BF really wanted to go there so we went. I haven't seen the movie yet ( waiting for hobbit ) but BF said he could picture the battle scene while we were there.

2 weeks was just not enough. We didn't get to do everything we had hoped but we did enough to be satisfied.. for now.
Lord of the Rings filming location
Beautiful highway scenery - these flowers are along every road

NZ Sheep


Lake Tepako - Good Sheppard Church



Sir Edmond Hillary looking at Mount Cook
Clay Mountains on the way to Mt Cook

Quilt I would like to make


Puzzle World Maze



Milford Sound - Boat went right under the waterfall




View from scenic flight
The tiny 6 passenger plane

Fox Glacier



Franz Josef Glacier



Pancake Rocks



Wharariki Beach - NZ - My new favorite place
Another shot of Wharariki Beach

Horse at the trail to Wharariki Beach - He fell in deep lust with BF and offered to watch our campervan while we were gone.


Stunning view



Lazy Seal at Kaikoura - NZ

30 Goals B4 30

1 Learn to sew a quilt
2 Start my own monthly Happy Days Holiday Weekend
3 Discover the ultimate baked mac and cheese recipe
4 Start saving for retirement
5 Obtain a credit card to start rebuilding credit
6 Take an arts class
7 Start my own small business
8 Eliminate storage boxes that have been lingering 10 years
9 Visit 10 different countries
10 Donate 30 hours to charity
11 Get my learners license
12 Plant a tree
13 Compile a proper recipe book for all my favorites
14 Take a language class
15 Have a ladder of GIC’s renewing at $100 monthly
16 Find out my blood type
17 Learn the secret to making a super delicious stir-fry
18 Have a professional massage done
19 Take a cooking class
20 Help my sister set up an RESP for each of her children
21 Rekindle 2 old friendships
22 Leave “Must Do” lists in 5 Australia Lonely Planet Books
23 Find the perfect gingerbread recipe
24 Visit my best friend E in Alberta
25 Have a minimum of $1000 in my TFSA
26 Establish a monthly family dinner and game night
27 Plant a garden for my mother at her new home
28 Visit my brother in Waterloo
29 Design my own personal blog header
30 Write a happy 30th birthday letter to myself to open on my bday


So this is the list of goals I have set for myself to complete before I turn 30 on October 20, 2012. I think it’s a pretty good mix. Plenty of fun stuff to do, some charitable work, some personal finance and a good dose of self improvement. It took me awhile to come up with 30 goals but I like this list a lot. I feel everything on it is attainable. Some will be a little bit challenging but that’s part of the game.

If you would like to join me simply drop me a comment on this post with a link to your 30 goals. I will try to update this monthly on the 30th. ( Except Feb )

Checked Into The Mansions

Well here I am blogging from my tiny room in HongKong. So far things are going pretty well. We arrived here and found our way to our hostel pretty easily. We are staying in the Chung King Mansions which sounded a little sketchy in reviews but is actually not bad at all. Its a backpacker building with tons of different hostels. We chose one called Disney Deluxe. The only thing Disney about it is the Tinkerbell bathmat but its clean and thats what counts to me.

We arrived two days ago and just ate and slept. Yesterday we explored and found it to be a real maze to get around. We got lost trying to find the visitor center and gave up. It was still a good outing though. We found a lot of cheap places to eat and basically stuffed ourselves all day long. I call that successful.

BF is still sleeping right now. Not sure what the itinerary is for today but I have a few things I really want to do this week. I will let you guys know how it goes. :)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Last Day in Sydney - Hong Kong Here I Come

Well I only get one full day in Sydney before leaving for Hong Kong and this is it my friends. BF and I did our laundry, checked into our flights online, booked our shuttle for 530am (ugh) and quickly ran down to Paddy's Market for our souvenirs for family. It's our last official day in Oz and I'm not sure how I feel about it yet.

I should be so excited about tomorrow but I'm actually feeling quite zen. Why?! Maybe I'm getting used to traveling.. I don't know really. I'm sure it will hit me once I' m off the plane and out on the streets on Hong Kong.

Wish me luck and fun~ 7 days in Hong Kong!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

In Melbourne

Hey loves!

I am now in Melbourne. Just arrived yesterday from New Zealand. I had the most amazing time there and promise to follow this note up with a full post and many pictures. I have two more days here before heading back to Sydney. I have one full day there to gather souveniers and such and then I am headed to Hong Kong for 7 days.

I have finished deciding on my 30 goals. I will post this soon with a little explanation as to why I picked them. I really like my list so hopefully it will be fun more than a challenge to complete them all.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Dolly Asks For Help

Hey kittens!

I need some help from all my lovely readers. As you know I will soon be traveling to Hong Kong, Thailand and another country (undetermined) near Thailand (visa extension).

I would really appreciate any advice you may have on where to go? What to do/see? Great places to stay? All that fun stuff I know you are dying to tell me.

If you haven't had a chance to travel maybe there is someplace that you really want to go badly that you could tell me about. That works too.

Thank you in advance for any suggestions you can offer.

Love you muchly!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

NZ - There's no place like home

Hey everyone! I got a couple minutes here at an internet place to say a quick Howdy!

So far NZ is super fabulous. It reminds me so much of home (BC, Canada) though which might be why. I've been a little homesick so its hitting the right spot for me before the big culture shocks I'm hoping for in Hong Kong and Thailand.

I am still working on my 30 B4 30 list. It's a definite challenge to come up with 30 goals, especially when I'm traveling, my 30th birthday is in under two years and I don't know what is going to happen with my life during that time. Still, its good to have goals to work towards no matter what is happening in your life.

You'll have to be patient with me on updates and regular blog posts for the time being as you know. I promise to post some amazing photos of everywhere I visit.

Love you all long time!