Posts Tagged With: flying

Tortugas, Tacos and Total Bliss

We recently escaped from the dreary rain of Victoria to the brilliant sun of Mexico – namely to the Yucatan. Not only did we get some serious sun and sand, we had a few other surprises come our way, which tends to happen on our trips. It might be a simple language barrier, a missed turn, or getting locked out of the villa the first night… whatever the case, the unfamiliar and unexpected is exactly the reason I love to travel.

And travel we did. After 12 hours of assorted trains, planes and automobiles and a stop at the Mega in Playa del Carmen for groceries, we finally made it to our sweet, sweet condo overlooking Half-Moon Bay in Akumal Norte (about an hour-and-a-half’s drive south of Cancun). Akumal translates to ‘place of the turtles’ in the Mayan language. Seems fitting, given the amount of tortugas we saw (but did not touch, because we didn’t really want to get arrested – or lose a finger). Of course, it was pretty much dark when we arrived at the condo, so we could scarcely make out what awaited us view-wise. But the next morning we woke up to luminescent turquoise water and sweeping views of a curving bay, giving way to a brilliant, glaring white shore. Yep, it’s what we signed up for.

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Urchinville, USA
Warning! This relatively calm, beautiful bay is not as tranquil as it seems. Take the first day we step into the water, clad in our reef shoes, essential for the rocky terrain. Fortunately, most of the time the water is quite clear so you can spot where the spiny black sea urchins are. Until you don’t, and you step on one. Case in point: Cam. We’re in the water no more than 15 minutes, when he simply brushes by one and howls with pain. Losing his balance with the shock of it, he almost falls ass-over-tea-kettle in a whole big patch of ’em. I look at the injury and see it’s just a little blue spot, kind of like an ink stain, near his ankle. But it was enough to become a running joke of sorts from then on.

Losing Keys on Day Three
You’ll notice that a lot of the glitches that happen on our vacations are courtesy of my (most excellent) travel partner. Me? I just go with the flow. Anyway, this particular incident is no exception. After the traumatizing urchin episode on Day Two, we decide to brave the waters once again, this time for some snorkelling. Despite minor annoyances, such as his mask filling with water every five seconds (turns out it was because he hadn’t shaved – don’t ask), and the snorkel bag riding up his back (we had to take it to store said reef shoes, because we didn’t want to step on more urchins…), Cam trudged on like the true trooper he is.

All is well until we surface after some pretty decent snorkelling to get our surroundings. Cam grabs the sealed valuables case – that annoyingly kept riding up the cord around his neck and whacking him in the face – which stored our condo keys. As he does, the latch flips open, revealing – nothing. To this day, we’re still not sure whether the keys fell out at that moment or while we were swimming. It doesn’t matter – they’re gone. After searching the area to no avail, I helpfully offer, “Oh well, we’ll just get another set of keys.” Cam counters with, “That’s great, but one of the keys just happens to be the safe key.” Let’s just say that images of spending the rest of our stay waiting for someone to come and drill the safe open motivated me to seek help – fast.

(When I asked Hector, one of the resident concierges, for another safe key, he asked, “Where did you lose them?” To which I replied, “At the bottom of the ocean.” He shook his head and silently handed me another key. I’d rather not guess as to what he was thinking.)

What Time is it, Akumal?
You may recognize this title to an older blog post of mine from Sayulita, back in ’12. Technically, we knew that Cancun was two hours ahead, which means Akumal would be the same, being just down the coast. Well, technically yes, but not when we got there. Our many digital devices told us that the local time was only one hour ahead. Temporarily confused, we manually change said devices to two hours forward. Then, through a series of confusing two-hours-ahead-and-one-hour-back-incidents (including my iPhone waking me up at what it thought was 7 am, but it was actually 6 am and pitch-black), we took a time risk and made a reservation at a local fancy place on the beach for 6:30 pm. We arrived for dinner at what we thought was 6:30. The waiter greeted us and then nervously explained that it is actually 7:30. I was so unconvinced (and embarrassed) about this that he had to help us change the iPhone setting. Doh!

The full moon in full view by 7:30 pm.
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Emergency Cashola in Chemuyil
The great thing about Mexicans is they are incredibly helpful. Yes, I know I am speaking from a tourist perspective, but I think it’s an inherent trait. Case in point: we’re in Akumal Playa (the beach ‘town’ – a few kms from where we were staying), when we discover it’s time to replenish the peso supply. Yet all ATMs in Akumal are closed. We’re talking about five of them. Closed. No service. We ask another one of our condo concierges named Alfredo – ‘Freddie’ for short – what to do. He tells us there’s an ATM close by in a teeny town called Chemuyil that we could go to. He asks us if we have a car. We say no. “Take mine!” he exclaims, reaching in his pocket for the keys. We contemplate this for a moment, and after he gives us painstaking directions of the take the first left at the halfway tree, then follow the road until you get to the scarecrow at the Anderson farm variety – we say no. Instead, we ask “Can you take us?” Freddie nods, closes his notebook and says “Let’s go right now!” So off we go, do a few loop-de-loops to the highway, zoom past several Pemex’s, and then finally pull up at a dusty, worn grocery off some random side street, complete with ATM. And it was open. Now that’s helpful.

Adios, Akumal
We had pretty much the perfect last day in Akumal. We went back to Akumal bay, where it was slightly less crowded (the first time was over Easter weekend – you can just imagine in a Catholic country). We swam past yet more tortugas to the small and largely unvisited reef. We bobbed under the ropes and discovered a bounty of fish: schools, angels, parrots, whistling needlefish (well it looks like they are), brightly coloured sea fans and huge coral heads. Add that to our turtles (complete with clingy remoras, as pictured on header of this post) and a rare stingray sighting, and we were sufficiently suffonsified.

Two hours later, we lunched at one of our fave places – aptly named Turtle Bay Bakery – where I had the BEST blackened fish tacos EVER. The day gets better: as we head back to the Akumal Norte area on our rusty yet trusty bikes, we discover that the tiny, hole-in-the-wall eatery we’ve been wanting to try but is never open, is actually open! In true carpe diem style, we order dinner for six hours in the future (to which we later bike back to pick up, natch).

Shar with Ol’Rust Bucket – literally. Note the painting of the local fauna imbibing in refreshments of the Mexican beach kind.IMG_2225
Once back at the complex, we received more good news. Hector informed us that someone found our keys, washed ashore four days after we lost them, at the complex next door. They figured the plastic ID tag kept them afloat. We were amazed, and Cam was (rightly) relieved. We left Akumal the next day with a clear conscience and a couple of Sols to refresh our sun-drenched souls.

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– S

Stay tuned for more funnage in Part 2 of our Mex vacay: Island of the Women.

Categories: Beach, Dining, Mexico, Sunset, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Those Who Find You: A Tribute

Ah, Christmastime. Although we were in Bali well before Christmas, there were signs of it popping up here and there: a fake tree in the local Hardy’s Supermarket/Mall, a smattering of wreaths and lights adorning stalls. At the (many) airports heading home, trees and baubles surrounded every shop entrance. Flying into our home airport was a bit surreal – Canadians take this North Pole stuff seriously.

When we finally turned into our own little dead-end street, we saw that it had exploded with lights (we had some work to do to catch up). It was a bit weird; so familiar but we weren’t quite ready to embrace it. Yes, we knew it was coming, but when you’re frolicking around in a land of blazing sun and sand, you really don’t think much about it.

So I can’t say I’m deep into the Christmas spirit this year. That said, I do know what I am thankful for: families of all varieties.

There’s no question that I’m grateful for the family I was born into – as wacky as it is. I love them very much and appreciated every day I have with them, but here I’m referring the Balinese family we’ve adopted (or perhaps more correctly, they’ve adopted us).

We’ve been to Bali quite a few times now (five for me; six for Cam), and when you go back to the same place enough times, you’re bound to make connections – wherever you’re from, whomever you are.

Tandjung Sari at twilight. Just go.

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I’ve mentioned before how welcoming the Balinese are – and the Wawo-Runtu family, who founded and still run the sublime Tandjung Sari hotel on an amazing property in Sanur – is no exception. They’re a large bunch – a blended family extraordinare. (We kid them about being a Balinese Brady Bunch.) They’ve all received us with genuine curiosity, open arms, and two or three kisses on the cheek. This reception is a big part of the reason we keep coming back.

Yes, Bali is our home away from home, the place we think about often and fantasize about in the cold, dark, rainy days of a Canadian winter. We crave its colourful, mystifying chaos. It’s where we become accustomed to sweating constantly, needing three showers a day, and epic humidity.

After a breath of frangipani and incense, feeling the sun on my face, hearing the constant swish-shish of sweeping, the ‘ting’ of a bike bell along the boardwalk, stepping over the ubiquitous sidewalk offerings, almost bumping into mini-shrines and dodging stray dogs and cats – it’s like coming home. Actually, that is the coming home.

Here are two people who have made it so for us.

Me and Avi, with duelling cameras.

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Avi is general manager of Tandjung Sari; he’s the first person from the family that we met. He’s married to Wita, who’s father, Wija Wawo-Runtu, started the hotel. They are our age, and from there the similarities are endless (such as Cam and Wita having a birthday within one day of each other).

Me between two Sagittarians: pre-birthday dinner drinks at the fancy Legian on Seminyak Beach.

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Apparently we’re not the only ones who wish we were back there; as much of their job involves entertaining guests, both Avi & Wita relish the chance to hang out with people more ‘their age’. Our relationship with these guys has grown since the beginning; each time we go back we learn new things about ourselves, share funny family stories, indulge in our love for good food and even better company – such as good friends do.

Cam & Wita, toasting to their birthdays. Yes, Cam’s drink is wrapped in a bag.

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Cam & Avi: two great minds (and they have fun haggling over the bill)!

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Me & Wita goofing around at TS.

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I have fond memories of Wita coming down to join us every twilight at our bungalow’s porch for a couple of drinks when Avi was working late: the two of us shrieking as we dodged swooping bats; playing Bowie on the stereo; listening to Wita’s tales of living abroad and her brushes with famous people.

And then there’s us tucking into an enormous plate of kambing kare nasi goreng (lamb curry), homemade dinners at Tatie’s (Wita’s mom) or parties at one of her half-sister’s breathtaking open-air pavilion-style houses. And jazz on the beach, where Avi had the kitchen and the outdoor barbecue time our dinners perfectly. The time when Wita had extra bottles of water delivered to our bungalow when I was sick. It’s both of them going out of their way to make our stay as comfortable, happy and special as possible. Well, like family.

A Balinese tree ornament.

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For me, this Christmas is not about presents, or lights, or the big turkey dinner. It’s about family; it’s about remembering and appreciating your loved ones. There’s no denying the spirit of family this time of year brings, be it good or bad. For us – both near and abroad – it’s good.

Time to say goodbye – we’re smiling through our tears.

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Here’s to second families… ’til we meet again.

– S

Categories: Adventure, Bali, Beach, Dining, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Baliance: The Beginning

Well, we’re back in… you’ll never guess… Bali. Yup, it’s tradition that every two years we just have to get on a plane, fly biz or first for basically an entire day, and skip a day crossing the international dateline while we’re at it. The whole production is a tiring hassle, but it’s always worth taking a bit of pain for the ultimate Bali gain.

We started this Balinese adventure in an area near Ubud proper called Penestanan. If you want to tuck yourself away in the jungle and rice fields, this is the place to do it. Here are a few vignettes from our time there…

Please tell me we didn’t just do what I think we did

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Once upon a time there was a grand villa in the middle of the Balinese jungle. And it had many rooms. And with those many rooms came many doors and keys and locks in both analog and digital flavours. There were two main doors – one for the front gate that led to the road to other villas, spas, and restaurants admist the jungle – and the other for the back that led to the walking path to the main street.

And so it is our first night, which after travelling for 20+ hours left us weary and a bit slow-witted. We decide to go to the market to get susu (milk) for coffee, Bir Bintang and other vacation necessities. We walk out the back gate, and I firmly shut it, only to discover shortly after that it is now locked, and whatever keys we have can’t open it. It’s starting to get dark, there’s no lights and we can’t see any way around the house other than to take a long alternative route… which we don’t really have a grip on yet. I look at Cam and say, deliriously, you mean we’ve been here for five minutes and we’ve already locked ourselves out of the villa?!?

I thought I was going to cry. But, ever the problem-solver, Cam MacGyvered the situation using a temporary bank card to finesse the lock bolt. It opened in about two seconds. And we never fully closed that door again.

After all that, we forgot the susu. But my first taste of kopi Bali the next morning was nothing less than heavenly, milk or no.

Ol’ Growly on the path (no, not Cam)
That’s our place in the background of the picture below.

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You could say it was a wee bit big for us, but it was damn private, which was the principle goal. This place was so remote that we had to walk down a winding, partly hilly, cracked and narrow concrete path, complete with very steep steps from the main road. No motorized vehicles allowed. Thus, after making a few wrong twists and turns – the best being pitch black and sans torch, we would arrive at our palace.

One day we headed out on said path to get provisions at the Bintang Market, only to find a ‘guard’ dog waiting in the middle of the path, looking super-scruffy and growly (upon closer inspection, he was just old and cranky and didn’t want to move). Of course as soon as we got close, he started barking and growling. Cam, born to face fear it seems, just kept on walking and reluctantly Ol’ Growly moved out of the way. We made friends later when I threw him and a canine friend doggy treats out the villa window.

Have stick, will herd 

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While up on the rooftop terrace of Rumah Cahaya, Cam spotted this ~4-foot tall ibu (Indonesian for mother or elder female) herding ducks through the rice fields, with the intention (we think) of getting them to eat all of the bugs. Small or no, ibu could surely wield a mean stick.

More Ibu – from field to market
Cam’s been taking some serious language lessons, and enjoys practicing with the locals. One time while on a provisional trip to the Bintang Market for Bir Bintang – naturally – he was in the checkout line behind an elderly ibu who seemed to regard his bottles of beer with some disapproval. That is until Cam said to her “untuk makan malam” (“for dinner”). Ol’ ibu went from seriously serious to highly amused. She thought it so funny that she repeated it to her husband beside her. It really is the small victories.

Martinis but no Internet? Perfect.
There’s a restaurant in Penestanan which happens to have the best martinis – by my opinion – in all of Bali. And we’ve been to a lot of swanky places. So, naturally, we happened to find ourselves there. It’s called Element and it’s waaaay tucked away in a small side street. The martinis come in two ways: strong or really strong. This place is so good that we’re actually thinking about making the one-hour trek back up there from Sanur. Plus, you’re forced to talk to your companions after 5 pm. Seriously?

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It’s a small world, after all
Before we even arrived, we quickly learned how small of a town Ubud is. Turns out that the house manager for Rumah Cahaya, Juli, is none other than the brother of the ibu whose family manages the other house we stayed in – Rumah Cinta – two years ago. In fact, we went to this cat’s wedding in 2012 – pictured below with me and bride Koming.

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Note the before and after pics of Juli – quite a difference! (No makeup for instance…)

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Pictured above: Bapak (Indonesian for father – also used for an elder male) – who carried my 50 lb suitcase on his bony shoulder all along the path and down aforementioned wicked steps – Juli and me the morning we left Penestanan. BTW, that’s Ol’ Growly in the background.

One of the coolest house features… EVER
The whole time we stayed at Rumah Cahaya, we were wondering how to access the basement suite. We could see the door from the outside, but had no idea how to get to it from inside. That is, until the owner Bruce showed us a secret door behind the bookshelf, which led to a whole other room, bathroom, bar, and theatre.

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The space between the shelves is the opening to the secret room below. Spooky!

Apparently this is where Bruce lived when the rest of the place was being built. I was super-impressed. How English gothic is that? Noted for our future mansion.

Stay tuned for my next post – a remote island called Gili Trawangan off the east coast of Bali.

– S

Categories: Adventure, Bali, Pool, Travel, wedding | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Travel Highlights of 2013

It’s the last day of the year and, once again, I find myself apologizing for not writing in an awfully long time. Yeah, I have great excuses: courses, work, and a bit of travel. However, the looming year end has persuaded me to write something – anything. So, it’s time for my travel highlights for 2013. (This is admittedly nothing particularly original on my part – see Best Travel Moments of 2012 for last year’s wrap-up.)

Mexico de Mayo
We kinda lucked out last May – so much so that we dubbed the month Mexico de Mayo. Turns out that months after we booked the first Mexico trip to Sayulita, Cam’s employer awarded him a bonus trip to the other coast of Mexico – the Mayan Riviera. And it happened to take place 10 days after the first trip.

Trip 1: Sayulita
My absolute favourite time of the day anywhere is twilight. And although twilight in Sayulita didn’t actually happen until like 8:00 pm in May, that only meant more sun, more swimming, more time to savour the good life. So when happy hour rolled around, I could usually be found hanging on the edge of the pool, taking in Sayulita’s astounding beauty. (Not to mention it was so damn hot, I didn’t really want to be anywhere else.) You can read more about the trip here.

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Trip 2: Mayan Riviera
Although the Mayan Riviera is undoubtedly beautiful, the area isn’t new to us (we’ve been to Playa del Carmen and the island of Cozumel). But the Rosewood Mayakoba Resort definitely was a novel experience. Lush and plush, no expense was spared in this gem of a spot right on the beach, with its own private lagoon. I’ll spare you the details, but definitely worth mentioning was our room – more like a mini villa – situated on a strip of sifted-flour sand at the end of the complex, with just palm trees and a resident Mexican coati to keep us company. And let’s not forget our private plunge pool (see below) – that, despite its beckoning on a typical tropical day – was not nearly cool enough for us sweltering Canadians!

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Iguana on the Cliffs of Tulum
Ok, this post is definitely setting a strong pool theme, so let’s move on to a different body of water: the ocean. But not just any ocean; the intoxicating aquamarine beauty of the Caribbean. No one can resist it, really, not even a local iguana striking a pose on the cliffs of the Mayan ruins of Tulum.

iguana in tulum

More water: right after this tour, we cooled off with a little cave diving in one of the mere 10,000 systems believed to exist in the Yucatan. Unfortunately, I have no pictures of the adventure, but think very underground, very low, very narrow, very dark and very quiet. Off we went in our crocs and snorkel gear.

Salt Spring Island for Canada Day and…
…our 10th wedding anniversary. Back to one of our treasured places in the world – practically in our own backyard. We spent the three-day weekend basking in the sun, driving around in our li’l baby blue, and feasting on jumbo shrimp caught that very afternoon. Bonus start came when our B&B host friend Cap’n Dan happened to be piloting the ferry from Victoria. The moment we parked in our lane, an announcement came over the speaker to the effect of: would Cam & Shari please make their way up to the captain’s deck for an important message? From that point on, our 30-minute ride was from the captain’s quarters, high, high above, with a prominent view of our destination route. Then, upon docking at Salt Spring, our car row got to offload first. It helps to know the right people.

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One of the decorative shelves at our fave B&B.

Another SSI highlight – of the culinary kind this time: tracking down our pottery friends whom we’ve been buying from every summer. Sadly, for practical reasons they packed in the pottery, and instead opened a new bakery called Bite Me. These were the best (and biggest) darn ice-cream sangys we’ve ever had.

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Note the evil grin on the oatmeal one. Bite me, indeed.

Picking up a New Addition to the Family
Post-Canada Day, we took a quick trip across the city to pick up Billie (after Billie Holiday), our beautiful red-headed, green-eyed girl. We got her through an animal shelter, who rescued her and her five kittens from an SPCA in the States. Her kittens had been adopted out, and now it was her turn. We were only too happy to bring her into our home and our hearts. Needless to say, she’s settled in quite nicely. A recent visit to her foster family’s website revealed a strong resemblance of one of her male kittens to his mom. Awwwwwww!!

little billie.

More cats – but twice three times as large
Ok, we are definitely moving away from the water theme, with our annual August jaunt to the heart of the Canadian prairies: Brandon, Manitoba. Home to the in-laws, and some of the biggest cats in Canada. Yup, no question – these barnyard beauties are as cuddly as they are huge. Meet Casey (top) and Callie (the calico). Not surprisingly, there wasn’t a mouse or similar rodent to be found on the 66 acres that is their home. Good kitties, they is.

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Cleveland – A little work, a little ball, and a whole lotta of Rock & Roll
September found me at a content marketing conference in none other than Cleveland, Ohio, along with three of my colleagues (the crazy one madly waving his arms is actually my boss). Although we were there technically for work, there were plenty of moments to discover the city of Cleveland itself, which frankly, I hadn’t thought of much before I packed my bags. This pic was by far one of my favourite moments – en route to an Indians game, via lively 5th Street and in 36 degree C heat with not a breeze to be had. Other highlights were an opening bash at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and an 80s party at the House of Blues. Oh, and the best damn stuffed snapper I’ve ever tasted. Practically in the Midwest, no less.

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Decked out in our bowling shoes, ready to hit the lanes.

Maple Ridge Sisterhood
Back to my sister Karen’s place, not only to say goodbye to one of her great friends – note her Death Party in this post – but for a permanent change. Namely, a tattoo. But not just any tattoo, and not just one. We both decided to get a Celtic sisterhood insignia combined with an infinity symbol marked on our skin. And yeah, it hurt – especially on a place with very little skin and a whole lot of nerve endings (that’s my wrist and her ankle). But, it was worth every hot-fire-poker-dragging-across-skin minute. And, Karen didn’t mind me crushing her poor hand, so that’s OK.

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I love you infinity times, Karen.

Bonus Highlight: Snow Love
Technically, this still counts as traveling. It was the morning of my last day at work before the two-week holiday closure. We woke to a dusting of snow – nothing to be alarmed about, but enough to make a few people decide to take an early vacation. This is Victoria, after all. This very cool design was actually done by tire tracks just outside our house.

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‘Tis the season of love.

– S

Categories: Beach, Gulf Islands, Mexico, Pool, Sunset, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

La Dolce Vita in Sayulita

So, I know I haven’t written in… well, ages. Seems I’ve used that line fairly recently, but that’s because I hadn’t really been anywhere.

That confessed, I’m happy to report that after five dreary months in the soggy, freezing climate that is Victoria (the rest of our beloved country has had it much worse, so I will stop complaining), we finally found the sun. It took us only 4,402 kilometres to get to it, but I’m not going to get wrapped up in data. The point is, we found our sun. And it was right here the whole time. In Sayulita.

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OK, that pic is not really the sun (which is doing its duty by scorching us daily – but I’m not complaining). It’s one of the many, many stunning art features of the rather amazing villa we rented in the north end of town – the quiet part of town. Admittedly, it’s a wee big for us, what with three bedrooms and four full bathrooms (including a pool bathroom – genius idea – noted for future palace). We tried our best to get friends to come and stay with us, but no one bit. Crazy people.

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I adore the design of this place: open air, simple and elegant. Did I mention it’s surrounded by water? Two water features, a pool, and the ocean just steps below.

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Enter the turret. It’s actually home of two of the bathrooms. Nothing like showering while peering out from domed windows.

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The pool shot. ‘Nuff said.

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And then…

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The other night we had a local chef come to our villa to cook us a traditional Mexican feast of homemade guacamole, mahi-mahi with a sesame seed crust and mango sauce, sautéed veggies, and fresh fruit garnished with coconut shavings for dessert. A lovely light dinner, perfect for these hot nights.

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Yesterday we went on a jungle walk to one of the many secluded beaches around Sayulita – three miles of sand… and us.

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We walked a little farther and spotted the residence of a former president of Mexico:

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Looking for graveyard quiet?

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Oh, Sayulita – how I missed you. It’s good to be back.

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– S

Categories: Beach, Dining, Glamorous, Mexico, Pool, Sunset, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sanur: Home and Away

Well, it’s been a while now since we returned from our favourite place in the world (that would be Bali, for those of you not paying attention) – and let’s just say it’s a bit of an adjustment. But I don’t want to waste your precious reading time lamenting about being back in chilly Canada. This is a postcard about our home-away-from-home: sleepy Sanur.

After dusty, scorching Seminyak and the serene lushness of Ubud, we departed for the golden sands of the southeast coast. Sanur is where we first experienced the magic of Bali, where we discovered a peaceful bungalow-style hotel on the beach, where we made lifelong friends and are always treated like family. With fond memories in tow, we were anxious to get there and start creating new ones.

Once we turned off the main street (Danau Tramblingan) and into the Tandjung Sari driveway, I exhaled deeply. It’s hard to describe the feeling I get when I enter these grounds. It’s like I’ve closed the door on an all-too-busy, crazy, rushed world, retreating into a hidden paradise. The long, narrow, two-laned driveway is lined with palms in the middle and high hedges on either side, only hinting at the bungalows behind it. It’s as if I’ve entered a home in a village, going back into another quiet, simpler time. It’s a feeling of arriving at a place unlike anywhere I’ve been before; someplace safe, warm and welcoming.

As usual, we were greeted warmly by the staff in the receiving area: a huge, open-air pavilion that was once part of a Balinese royal house. Three ceremonial beats on a large gong announced our arrival, and we were given cold towels by a fresh-faced Balinese woman. Happily signing in, we started what was to be a two-week-long reunion with all our old friends and the Tandjung Sari family. Indeed, several times a day we were welcomed with a chorus of exclamations, handshaking, kissing on each cheek (often three times), and lots of Apa kabar (what’s the news?). To which we’d reply: baik, baik (very good – especially since we were there).

The Tandjung Sari beachfront at twilight.

bali hotel twilight

We had booked one of the new garden bungalows (they hadn’t built new ones since the ’90s, so this was pretty special). Bright and spacious, the bungalow boasted beautifully blue tiled floors depicting Balinese themes of animals and birds; industrial-strength air conditioning; a welcome bowl of island fruit adorned with frangipani; a separate room with wash area complete with skylights; and yes… the classic outdoor shower. This time we even got an outdoor bathtub – an essential tool for the cooling-down process, especially after scorching beach days, and yes, our dreaded morning runs along the boardwalk. (This we endeavoured – and succeeded – to do every morning, despite any late activities the night before. It was really the only sane time to do it – that is, if you didn’t want to faint of heat stroke while dodging bikes, scooters, sketchy gangs and, God forbid, the razor-sharp women hawkers who hang around outside the Circle K, just waiting for the next victim to drag down a crowded and confusing alley of shops.)

Outdoor bathtub – Cam’s favourite place to cool off while reading the latest Jack Reacher and sipping a cold Bir Bintang.

bali tub

Shortly after our arrival, I really began to relax. Translation: lots of spa treatments. Fresh fruit peel facial and rose petal face masks, a dual manicure and pedicure (to the tune of $15 Cdn – absurdly cheap compared to the $70 – before tax and tip – jobby I had at home).

And then there was the massage. Not just an ordinary one – it was a Javanese massage. Picture a 4-foot-ish Javanese ibu knocking on your bungalow door with just a sarong and some oil. You dress down to your skivvies, lie on your bed and proceed to get worked over by her magic fingers both back and front. Modesty goes out the window as she transforms your entire body into a lump of jelly and goodness. Her touch is utterly perfect: not too gentle that you can’t feel anything, but not too strong that it starts to get stressful. Perfect for us picky North Americans. Again, absurdly cheap: $20. For an hour and a half. ‘Nuff said.

Then there was the fresh fruit every morning at breakfast: pineapple, papaya, watermelon, even passionfruit or banana juice if you so desired. Not to mention perfectly-baked buttermilk biscuits and Tandjung Sari’s famous croissants: fresh from the oven, with a rewarding puff of steam when you break one open. Everyone swears they are better than what you find in Paris, and we can’t disagree.

Shar on bike along Sanur’s beach boardwalk.

bali shar bike

Our resident family of ginger kucings.

bali kitties

Our third and last week in Bali – what we referred to as our “bonus week” – was spent pretty much planted on the beach, where our biggest decision of the day (aside from what to have for lunch or dinner), was if we should go for a swim in the pool or float on our backs in the 27 degree Indian Ocean.

However, we did manage a day trip to east Bali – to a series of pretty, small fishing villages lining the coast and stemming south from the town of Amed – satisfied our snorkelling urge. The quality was outstanding, with the best part not having to rent a boat to get to the reef. All we did was park on the road, cut through the grounds of an obscure homestay on the beach, step out onto the black sand and put our flippers in the water. A push off the rock and we were transported to a world of angel and Nemo fish, bright blue coral, sea turtles and eels. We let the current take us deeper into the relatively garbage-free water (a treat compared to, say, what we experienced in Nusa Dua) – swimming through warm, cool, and then almost too hot patches – down to a sunken Japanese shipwreck (there are doubts about its provenance, but it was cool nonetheless). We emerged two hours later, and with salt water crust in our hair and cracked lips, rinsed off underneath a rustic communal shower before wolfing down our picnic lunch. Hours later I felt the ill-effects of the classic too-long-in-the-water-without-protection nasty burn, but it was sooooo worth it.

A young woman dances the traditional Balinese legong

bali legong

After the ‘cool’ mountain air of Ubud (28 degrees as opposed to 32 – it makes a difference, believe me) we were once again cozily-wrapped in the hot and humid, even with the ocean breeze. But the warmth of the island doesn’t just come from the elements. It’s in the people, too: their gentle and welcoming nature, their stunning smiles, their genuine interest. During our time in Sanur, a series of invites ensued: drink gatherings, birthday outings (including Cam’s), legong dance performances, art exhibitions, dinners at our friend’s house… so much that we barely had a night to ourselves during our whole two-week stay.

But that’s what I love so much about the Balinese: they are eager to include you and have you take part in their customs (and to practice their English while they’re at it). Just take the wedding we went to in Ubud. It’s just what they do, who they are. And that’s what keeps us coming back.

The full moon and me.

bali shar moon

– S

Categories: Adventure, Bali, Beach, Dining, Glamorous, Pool, Shopping, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sin City Finale: The Long Journey Home

For those of you eagerly awaiting the final instalment in the epic Vegas trip, it’s time to exhale and enjoy the schadenfreude-al goodness of a day that you didn’t have to experience. For all previous chapters, check out:  Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3.

As well-known high-roller Charles Dickens once wrote: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. As you can gather by that statement, the journey home started off well and then ended… not so well. We were picked up at the Aria by the same limo we arrived in – but, of course! And so just as we arrived, we left.

Moments before I took this picture, this guy said, “I’ll take an 8×10 of that.” And then wished us well.

LAS Arrival in Style
We departed the Aria after saying farewell to our arena-sized room and shortly thereafter arrived at the airport. And, as responsible Canadians, we gave ourselves plenty of time to check in, etc., before boarding. Translation: way more than 20 minutes. We headed up to the first-class check in counter, only to be greeted by a somewhat flustered ticket agent who informed us that we had plenty o’ time to catch our flight, seeing as all Alaska Airlines flights were either delayed or cancelled. When we inquired as to what was going on, he gave us the short version: there was a network failure that basically grounded the entire airline. He suggested that we might be stuck at the LV airport for a couple hours; in the grand scheme of travel, that was no big deal.

Six hours kinda sucked, though.

LAS Terminal 3: Up Close and Really Personal
Yes, it was about six hours. Turns out that during some routine construction, Alaska’s internet connection through Sprint was accidentally cut (literally, the cable was severed), both in Wisconsin and – get this – Seattle as well… which happens to be Alaska’s hub. This minor incident pretty much rendered Alaska’s network dead, so no one could issue boarding passes or check in for flights. Basically, the planes were grounded until it got fixed. Well, at least it wasn’t anything mechanical, I reasoned with myself. No, that came later.

We passed the time by watching shows on our iPad, going to a pub, watching another show, going to another pub, etc., etc. It went on like this for what seemed an eternity. I tried not to think that all this time we could be spending outside in the glorious 34 degree Vegas weather, lying by the pool. OK, maybe not the pool, given my last two experiences there à la Vegas-style douchery, but still.

So after many episodes of Justified and Modern Family, several glasses of pinot grigio and humongous plates of ‘merican food, our plane finally starts boarding. (Of course, Cam was up at the ticket counter every so often trying to figure out what the hell was going on, wrangling food vouchers, bantering with other hapless passengers, and the like. He says it helps pass the time – somebody is always worse off than you, and this turned out to be true, as you’ll see.) Although our connection to Victoria from Seattle had evaporated, it certainly was not forgotten. In fact, we pretty quickly worked it out that there was no freakin’ way we’d make it home that night. Ugh.

Well, at Least We Weren’t Like This Guy
Once settled and safely in the air, the air hostess took pity on us (bless her heart) by pouring us coffee with Bailey’s along with generous glasses of yet more pinot grigio. As we made our way up to cruising altitude, we both noticed a young fellow traveling alone, seated diagonally across from us in first. He looked extremely worse for wear, holding his head in hands for most of the taxiing and looking a particular shade of grey. Cam informed me that he had been chatting with him in the ticket counter line-up. With a sardonic grin, he relayed to me this guy’s deal: he’d been partying in Vegas for a full three days, living it up in the clubs each night (morning?) until 9 am. In fact he thought – as he woke up in a rather stunned and severely hungover haze that very morning – that he was going to actually miss his flight.

Next thing we knew, this guy is standing in the hostess cabin where of course you cannot hang out post 9/11, chatting away and trying to avoid the barf bag the hostess handed him earlier. When Cam passed by en route to the washroom, he gave dude an inquiring look, to which Hangover Harry replied, “I have anxiety attacks sometimes” as a source of explanation. I don’t doubt it in the least. Cam sort of regretted saying to him a bit earlier, “Don’t jump”. Sort of.

Sleepful in Seattle
We arrived in Seattle a good 3.5 hours after our scheduled connection to Victoria. Not that anyone was going anywhere, mind you. We headed straight for the Alaska info counter – we were the first ones there – to figure out what we do next. After an  interminable amount of time, with much sympathetic clucking and tapping of keys from the ticket agent, she informed us that the next – and last – flight to Vic (11 pm) was all booked. We were officially SOL. And so were all the people behind us – and there were many. Still, we managed to secure seats on an 11 am flight the next day – the earliest we could get – and wrangle a nearby hotel. We walked past the extremely long and growing lineup as we made for the exit.

The Airport Hilton was close and comfy, complete with low-lit corridors and bunker-style halls. Cam fondly described it as “virtually charm-free”. But, it did the trick, especially when it came to purchasing provisions, which we had to do since our luggage didn’t make it with us. Of course it didn’t.

The check-in person informed us that the gift store was open for another 15 minutes, so off we went to acquire snacks, deodorant and other various and sundry travel items. It wasn’t until we got to our room that I discovered I had nothing to sleep in. So, off we went back to the store where the overly cheerful clerk greeted us once again, this time enthusiastically gesturing to a particular table with a “buy one, get the other half price” (or something to that effect) t-shirts. We bought two of the worst-looking ones – both with the same Seattle motif – one pink, one grey. Chuckling, we made our way back, only then to discover we’d no toothbrush or toothpaste. (Yes, I really should have taken inventory beforehand. Total rookie move.) I can live without most things for a night, but brushing my teeth isn’t one of them. Of course now that the store was closed, I phoned the front desk, and about 15 minutes later, someone from housecleaning arrived with the much-coveted instruments in hand. At least it was ‘free’.

There’s No Place Like Home
We awoke after a fitful sleep on lumpy pillows and headed to the lobby’s ‘business centre’ to email work (no option for Wi-fi in the room), letting them know we wouldn’t be in for a while, if at all that day. We got to the airport in plenty of time for our mid-morning flight, and everything seemed to be going smoothly as we boarded. We’re almost home! I excitedly thought – a little prematurely… but you know that by now, right?

We’re patiently waiting for the plane to taxi when the pilot makes an announcement that makes my blood run cold (or boil, it could have gone either way): the plane was having mechanical issue with the luggage door. Which meant us and our luggage had to disembark and wait for another plane. And to think we were so close! The pilot didn’t even finish the announcement when a woman across from us (stranded coming back from Mexico with what it looked like as a broken arm), burst into tears. Shaking, she then started begging the man in front of her for some pain killers. I didn’t blame her in the least.

Back we went to the Alaska service counter, where we’d been clocking a significant amount of time. After explaining our situation, the agent prepared us for the worst-case scenario – delay, possible overnight YET AGAIN, as all subsequent flights were booked after this one. No sooner had she told us this when she switched gears and informed us that our replacement plane would be ready in an hour. I wasn’t optimistic. But, this time she was true to her word, and we all clambered back on into the same selection of seats on a different plane.

Forty-five minutes + twenty-four hours later, we touched down on Canadian soil. For someone who absolutely dreads coming home after a vacation, this time I was eternally grateful, and actually was tempted to kneel down and  kiss the ground. The ironic thing was that a day or two later Alaska sent me a customer service survey asking me how I enjoyed my trip. The subject line was “Tell us About Your Latest Flight”. Although the folks at Alaska did a pretty good job of troubleshooting the whole situation, I really didn’t have the heart to blast them – it’s not like the frontline folks cut the blessed cable.

At least my rose was still intact.

– S

PS. OK, you’ve had your schadenfreude, so let me put a balancing coda on this. As of this moment, we’re in the YVR Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge waiting for our flight to Bali via HK (yes again). We’re staying for three glorious weeks, so watch for some genuine weirdness coming your way. In other words, I’ll be blogging. Here’s what first class looks like on CX.

Categories: Adventure, Glamorous, Travel, Unglamorous | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sin City – A Trilogy in Four Parts (with apologies to Douglas Adams)

OK, I know I haven’t written for AGES. Truth is, I haven’t gone anywhere for, well… AGES. Assuming that you don’t count numerous jaunts to the BC mainland to visit my awesomely cool sister and her family in Maple Ridge – I don’t. We’re also saving our pennies for our three-week extravaganza in Bali this November. But this isn’t about Vancouver or trips to come; it’s about Vegas.

This year, we decided to forgo the traditional Canadian Thanksgiving at home where, as per usual, we would have hosted the family. If you’ve been reading any of my older posts, you’ve heard a similar rant and may have noticed that we are starting to rebel more often, making the ‘escape’ at Christmas, Easter, and now Thanksgiving to other parts of the globe. But this isn’t about holidays and family; this is about Vegas!

(BTW, our trip was so hilariously cool in so many ways, from our arrival to our stay and then the journey home [well, that wasn’t so much cool than epic] that it warrants multiple posts – hence the title.)

So to the beginning… we’re on our way to Vegas to see one of our most favourite Canadian bands: Metric. We proceed through security in Victoria, which is generally very routine except for the fact that I was randomly selected to be searched, with the choice of being patted down or going through that fun little X-ray booth thingy, spread-eagled and exposed. Considering the fact that I was wearing a dress, I chose the latter. Five seconds later I was considered threat-free.

Fast-forward to the Vegas airport. Satiated with a few glasses of wine courtesy of the first-class section, we’re waiting for our luggage when Cam nudges me and points over to an official-looking man wearing a suit and holding up a sign with our names on it. Turns out Cam not only hired a car service to pick us up, it’s a stretch limo. Why not? I was surprised and elated, as witnessed by everyone else around the luggage carousel. Off we went with Mr. Limo (his name is Paul), and upon stepping into the massive car, I was kindly given a red rose and a bottle of champagne. Since the distance between the airport and Vegas Boulevard isn’t very far, and the fact that the car was booked by the hour, Paul took us for a cruise up and down the Strip. There we were, the two of us in a six-person limo, drinking champagne and watching the freakshow go by. Not a bad way to arrive in Sin City.

After our tour, we stumbled out of the limo to the door of the Aria, our hotel. A massive glass tower, this hotel is one of the classier places in Vegas; most notably where the casino doesn’t dominate your every waking moment and movement – a refreshing change.

Aria’s dancing water fountain.

The Aria’s interior is modern and cool, all marble and glass, and relatively smoke-free – another bonus. We reached check-in and after waiting about 15 or so minutes in line, managed to work our way up to the front counter. There we encountered a bit of a snafu; we had originally booked for two nights, but then shortly before our departure changed it to three. That means we had two separate vouchers for our stay that basically didn’t connect. In short, they didn’t have a room for us. We quickly sobered up. The party couldn’t be more over.

So after much wrangling, questioning, waiting for dude to finish talking to his manager and get us a room – any room for Christ’s sake – Cam put on his mad face and decided to talk to the manager himself. I’m not quite sure what he said, but I’m assuming that it wasn’t too pretty… the results were somewhat spectacular: dude gave us the second-largest room in the place. Ya, okay, maybe it pays to kick up a fuss once in a while.

We then proceeded to a) find the elevator, which after much corner-turning and bumping into walls and slot machines, we found, and then b) proceeded to find our actual room. Anyone who’s been to Vegas knows how much of a time investment it can be getting to, say – the pool to your room and back – but in our case, just getting to it from the elevator was about a 10-minute trek along a long, dark plush corridor where every corner and cranny looked exactly the same. God forbid you swayed left instead of right at a fork – which, in Cam’s case, you would have to backtrack to the right path. So, after much mumbling and grumbling, the champagne and limo long forgotten and my rose starting to droop, we arrived at our room. It’s at the very end of the corridor – any further and you would run smack right into a window. We opened the door.

I suddenly stop mid-rant. I try to take it all in, not quite believing what I see in front of me. It’s huge. Put it this way: it had its own foyer. Marble floors, a full living room suite, five televisions, king-sized bed, floor-to-ceiling windows, a shower bigger than some of Cam’s first apartments, and get this: our very own 12-person seated conference room. Conference room! We figured the whole thing was about 2,000 square feet. Basically the size of our house. Here’s a little glimpse:

View from conference room.

Living area.

From living room to conference room and bar area.

Bedroom.

Beer enjoying the view.

By this time we were so giddy with wine and exhaustion that we threw our belongings on the floor (we had so much goddamn room that it didn’t really matter, and besides, the only time I relish being messy is in a hotel on vacation) and ordered room service, which we ate up at the marble bar. The best spaghetti bolognese I’ve ever had, even compared to what I consumed in Italy. Vegas really does a top-notch job with cuisine. OK, so maybe it was worth the one-hour check-in process.

Stay tuned for Part 2 – douches, dancers and debauchery.

– S

PS. With all the modern tracking systems these days, it’s very advisable not to touch anything in the mini bar that you don’t intend on actually using. To wit, we got charged $60 for a martini shaker that I happened to pick up and shake, exclaiming, “check out this martini shaker!” and $20 for a bag of crisps we moved an eighth of an inch out of the way to get to the vodka.

Categories: Glamorous, Travel | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

The Journey Before the Journey

Today I’m going to turn things a bit on their head and contemplate where I want to go, rather than where I’ve been.

Since the year’s practically half over, let’s start by taking stock of what’s already on the RADAR. This October will find us in lively Las Vegas. Not only will we be missing Canadian Thanksgiving (no preparing elaborate dinners – now there’s something to be thankful for!), we’re further risking family retaliation to see Metric, a favourite Canuck band of ours. This isn’t an arena show; they’re playing in the intimate, bar-like setting of the House of Blues. It really doesn’t get any better than that for seeing a great band.

Shortly after that, were back on ol’ faithful (AKA Cathay Pacific) bound for Bali, for three weeks this time. In fact, after much searching, we just finished securing the last of our three accommodations. Woot.

But what about 2013? And the year after that? First is deciding where to go – my favourite part. Second is figuring out the how to get to and from said place – my least favourite part. This is where my logistics-obsessed husband comes in. We often joke about that, quoting the Hip’s “Thugs”: “I do the rolling, you do the details.” Anyway, at one point we both agreed that a potential trip back to Europe sounded pretty good, with Paris or London as the initial destination (on the theory that one could get from London to Paris via the Eurostar). We further made the assumption that we’d use our Alaska Airlines miles for such a trip.

With a hopeful mindset, Cam did some digging and was quickly disappointed by the complexity and limited options. This is partly due to the fact that once we got a taste of first and business class on long-haul flights, we made it our mission never to fly economy on such lengthy flights again. Let’s just say it’s hard – really hard – to go back. I know that sounds spoiled and snobby, but there it is. Simple fact. My reasoning is this: for 15+ hour-long flights to, say, Asia and Australia, it’s definitely worth it. Plus living on the West Coast can make getting to Europe a wee bit tricky, with inevitable transfers from Toronto or Montreal or New York. So you might as well make all that time waiting in airports comfortable. VIP lounge, anyone?

But I digress. What Cam discovered was that the main Alaska affiliates for traveling to Europe – namely British Airways, American Airlines, and Air France – either:

  • Have very high fuel surcharges (we’re talking thousands of dollars);
  • Are always teetering on the verge of bankruptcy;
  • Really love to go on strike; or
  • Have reputations for less-than-stellar service (certainly not Cathay Pacific standards).

So this really got me thinking. While I’d love to return to Paris, I’ve been there, done that. It’s a big world, and there are a lot of places on our travel bucket lists, from Bora Bora to Buenos Aires. And, as luck would have it, Alaska Airlines recently partnered with Emirates Airlines, and the plan is to start offering awards travel to Dubai starting late this year – obviously, that opens up a whole new set of choices. Not to mention first class on EA is crazy-luxurious on the A380. We’re talking a martini bar, your private pod made even more private thanks to a pair of sliding closed doors, and – get this – showering facilities (with a five-minute time limit, mind). Decadence, much? All you have to do is watch Sex and the City 2 and you’ll know what I mean (note that I’m not in any way endorsing that movie). This would be almost as fun as the destination itself.

And, as we love our music – and love traveling for music – there’s the whole idea of coordinating a trip with some big concert. U2 in Rio? Coldplay in Abu Dhabi? Sign me up. (We’d probably still go if that didn’t work out, though.)

I guess what I’m saying is I’m sort of itching to do something different, in much the same way as when Cam and I took a bit of a risk going to Sayulita for the first time. Now it’s time to try somewhere else like Zihuatanejo: a definite possibility for next spring. And then there’s the extraordinary adventure of an African safari… something I’ve always dreamed of. But that could probably wait until we’re a lot older because a) we’ll have a lot more time and money (hopefully) and b) we’ll fit right in with all of the other grey-hair oldsters who seem to gravitate to such experiences (meaning guided tours).

Of course, we could always do someplace just sort of nuts Moscow or Uluru. Oh, wait… I’ve already been to that last place. How cool is that.

It’s time to get the atlas out again and start dreaming.

– S

PS. Where in the world do you absolutely love and would recommend?

Categories: Adventure, California, Europe, France, Glamorous, Mexico, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two Tickets to Paradise

Once upon a time, I traveled international first class. It rocked, and it rocked all the way to Bali. Since Cam and I had racked up so many air miles with our Alaska Airlines card, we finally had enough for two tickets to fly anywhere in the world first class. Mind you, this didn’t come easy. The first time we traveled to Asia, we both paid straight-up for business class tickets on Cathay Pacific (which was freaking awesome, too – literally a world away from economy).

On our second trip to Bali, we had enough air miles for one business class ticket and paid full price for the second one. You may be thinking at this point that I’m crazy to be spending a lot of money getting from Point A to Point B. I see it as a matter of priorities. Don’t even get me started on how much people spend on material things – or even children for that matter – without blinking an eye. I believe that experiences generate way more happiness than say, an ATV, or that shiny, just-renovated back porch. Travel is my child, if you will, my sanity check, and I am more than happy to spend money and time nurturing and investing in it. Enough said.

So, many purchases (we put everything on our card: $1 = 1 air mile; you can see where this is going) and many flights later (you accumulate even more points when you actually fly), we both had enough to travel first class on air miles to Bali. That’s both legs: from Vancouver to Hong Kong, and then HK to Bali. Needless to say, with that much distance we wanted to be as comfortable as possible. From check-in in Vancouver to arrival in Denpasar more than 24 hours later (plus skipping a whole day crossing the International Date Line), it was definitely worth the expense.

To document all of the wonderful things about traveling in this kind of luxury (physically and emotionally) would take forever. So here are my top 10 highlights:

1. By-passing the “cattle class” line-up and heading straight for the first class check-in. In many cases, there’s also a special priority line-up for security clearance. That rocks.


2. Entering the first class lounge. I could almost hear the angels singing. The cardboard cut-out was a nice touch, though.


3. Awesome lounge perks of champagne, wine, spirits, and a dizzying selection of non-alcoholic beverages, including gourmet coffee. Complimentary snacks: depending where you’re headed, this can range from muffins and fruit to sweet pork buns, various noodle dishes, specialty cheeses, assorted tiny sandwiches, homemade soups, pizza, etc. An endless array of magazines and newspapers at your disposal. Oh, and of course free Wi-fi. All surrounded by a quiet and relaxing atmosphere, sans baby-screaming, blaring tellys, and annoying people yelling into their cell phones. In this particular case, we practically had the whole place to ourselves for like five hours. It was almost lonely.


4. Priority boarding. There’s no better feeling than being the first to board, even before “those who need assistance and/or are traveling with children.” It’s even more fun if you’re late getting to the terminal (thanks to that last glass of champagne in the lounge). No worries; if that’s the case, you get to simply by-pass the economy class line-up and budge in front of passengers who are already boarding. Tee-hee.

5. Stepping into your roomy first class “pod”. Sometimes located on the top floor if it’s a double-decker plane, which is especially cool. Did I mention you’re greeted by name? For a more detailed perspective than what’s shown here, check out the first class cabin on the Cathay site. It really is all that.

6. More champagne (this time it’s pink). In your first class suite.


6. Even at 3 am, you get to order smoked salmon, specialty cheeses, fancy water crackers, and caviar. Washed down with expensive French bordeaux. You can even dine with your fellow travel partner in their pod. Yes, they are that big.


7. A beautiful complimentary toiletry pack containing all sorts of little creams, facial moisturizer, toothpaste and brush, eye mask, and hairbrush. Oh, and your own set of pyjamas and sleeping socks. It’s the perfect prelude to what comes next…

8. A good night’s sleep in your lie-flat bed. When’s the last time you had one of those on a plane? This is after you’ve watched a movie or two on your personal entertainment unit.


9. Waking up to the smell of kick-ass gourmet coffee, followed by a full-on breakfast, smoothie, more caviar, whatever you desire. Served to you when you want it, not the other way around.


10. A refreshed, relaxed and ready-to-go arrival. Wherever in the world you happen to land.


Have you ever experienced outstanding international first class travel? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

– S

Categories: Bali, Glamorous, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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