Cambodia –> Laos Border – What to Expect.

We piled off the bus and sifted through the dirty storage for our backpacks, threw them on and started walking alone through an empty field. The field was unkept, garbage all over the place, and it led up to an empty gate.

Crossing the Cambodian — > Laos Border


  • Bring USD for your visa fee (varies based on your citizenship)
  • Bring $4 USD for your stamp out of Cambodia and stamp into Laos
  • Bring $1 USD for your forms
  • Bring a passport photo or another $1 USD for them to photocopy your passport
  • Bring a few dollars more, you know, just in case
  • NEVER give your passport to someone that isn’t the customs agent, they are scammers, you’ll end up paying even more – they can be convincing so just tell them you are going to customs yourself


Our Experience

We walked by the gate and up to a small building, where there were a few people waiting. As instructed, we sat in the chair one by one and gave up our passports to get our stamps out of Cambodia.

Next, they asked us for the “$2USD stamping fee”, which we know doesn’t exist. They will not give you your passport back without this fee, so they left us with little choice. After paying the $2, off we go, into no man’s land. We’re not in Cambodia anymore but we’re not yet accepted into Laos, just walking between countries and there isn’t a single other person around.

After passing another empty gate, a man demands our passports. Always refuse. This man was not a customs agent, nor was he a tour guide. He wants your passport to charge you a higher fee for doing something that is quicker for you to do on your own, and it’s incredible how many people fall for it. Never give your passport to anyone that isn’t in a glass box in a uniform behind the customs desk – if you do, you’re getting scammed.

We watch as people sit around the man, paying him the extra fee, for a service that he shouldn’t legally be able to provide.

Upon walking up to Laos customs, we pay $1USD for our forms, we don’t believe this is a legitimate payment, but we have a bus to catch. After filing out the forms we pay for our visas, and of course, we must pay another “$2USD stamping fee” for our stamps in to Laos.

Overall, the process went rather smoothly for us, but only when you fork over the stamping fees.

The rest of our bus had disappeared and we were getting worried when almost two hours had passed. Finally, they slowly start funneling through. A man had stopped them off the bus and convinced him that he would deal with their immigration. They were all scammed and had cost us a few more hours of travel as we had to wait for them to go through the longer process.

Another group waited at the border and refused to pay the $2 stamping fee. They had been waiting for hours, with their passports held hostage by the agents.

Sadly, there is not much you can do about paying this fee, especially if you have a bus picking you up on the other side of the border. The Laos side does not have any taxis, stores, or people, it is completely deserted for miles, and your bus will not wait for you. Being stranded at the Cambodia/Laos border would not be a place I’d want to hang out.




Follow Me On My Journey

Just a quick post today!

I am excited to announce that I will be posting more frequently going forward.

I have resigned from my full-time corporate job. The crazy thing is, there weren’t any significant issues with the job I had! I enjoyed my work, I worked with a high caliber team, and it provided me with what I consider a privileged living.

Yes, I am SCARED. No, I am not certain what I’m going to do next. I have NO idea where I will be in the next 5 years, or the next 5 months for that matter. I have SOLD just about everything I own. And I’m leaving in 7 days.

My primary motivation behind this life changing move is the truth in knowing if I don’t ensue on this journey I will regret it for the rest of my life, and I have identified this as a regret I can not live with. So here I am.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – May 2017

Here is a list of countries I plan to visit in the next 6-8 months:

  • LAOS


If you have any tips or tricks for me, let me know! And I will be sure to post about my adventures touring through all of these new and exciting places!












What You Didn’t Know You Could Do In Kuala Lumpur

At each new destination, I try and find some sort of event or excursion that I have never participated in before, something that makes me a little bit nervous, but something that I have to do because I know I will regret it if I back out.

I looked out the window at the Cessna 172 and could hardly believe they were going to let me co-pilot this thing!


The Cessna 172!

Being from the East Coast of Canada, it made me realize it was such a small world when I learned that the pilot I was flying with was actually from Montreal, only a short distance away from where I’m from!

We walked out on the runway and over to our plane where we did all of the ground checks together to make sure everything was a go.

Okay, so it turns out that I was a terrible co-pilot, and flying a plane is actually really difficult….


I looked confused, a lot.

The best part was how low we were flying over the city, so we were able to see the KL Tower and Petronas Towers up close!

I learned some of the rules of the air, experienced take-off and landing from the cockpit, took control of the plane while we were in the air, and kept my official one day membership card from the day I got to be a pilot.

IMG_2290 (1)

If you’re interested in giving this a shot, I have included some further details and answers to common questions that I have been receiving below!

Who should you book with?                                                                                                               From my personal research, I decided to book with OXBOLD – One Day Pilot Program, you can find it easily through google. 

Do you need experience, or any other pre-requisites to attending?                                               No experience needed! They give you a “one day membership” to their program. Insurance, however, is your own responsibility.

Is it safe/reliable?                                                                                                                               To answer this one I have to say to each their own depending on your own comfort zone. I can vouch for the fact that I did not at any point feel as though I was unsafe. I felt as though the main pilot was extremely knowledgeable, qualified, and safety was at much at the top of his mind as it was of mine.

What is the cost?                                                                                                                                    I chose the 30 minute flying experience, at a cost of 800 RM. I find this cost was reasonable in comparison to other extreme sport prices (ie. sky diving, bungee jumping, canyoning, etc)


What types of excursions/events have you attended in a new place?


H.B. – 


What Type of Traveler Are You?

My Mom is never thrilled when I tell her I’m going on a trip because she knows something like this is coming…

I found this excursion online, and it sounded terrifying, so I read on about it.

“The Shark Watch provides visitors with the unique opportunity to experience the majesty of swimming with these shy creatures with nothing more than mask, fins and wet suit.”

I’m in!

After booking it, I didn’t think much of it until the day arrived, then I realized I was a little bit nervous that I was actually willing pay to go out of my way to seek out sharks to swim with, yet under any other circumstances I would be swimming as fast as I could in the opposite direction.

But I already paid for it, so I’m not backing out now.

I soon learned we were off to see black tip reef sharks, a timid and non-aggressive species of shark, which was slightly more comforting. Our guide explained that if we were to move too quickly or splash loudly when we spotted a shark we would actually scare it away.

We hopped on a long tail boat during sun rise and headed out to what our guide described as the sharks bedroom. 10 minutes later we were hopping off the side of the boat into the water with fins and snorkels!

Our sunrise ride out

The water was perfectly clear straight down to the sand and bits of coral scattered about. There were big bright colorful fish swimming within arms reach, and sure enough within minutes, we spotted the first shark! Crazy enough, I didn’t feel nervous or scared, but I wanted to get closer!

Our guide was incredible, she gently pushed the backs of our feet (if we wanted) to get us closer to the sharks without scaring them away, we were literally swimming WITH them.

One of the things I was happiest about was the company we chose to go with – “The Adventure Club”. They were so passionate about sharks and how people have been treating them that they put this tour on to show people how incredible they are and that they aren’t the stereotypical killer we associate them as. They have truly changed my view and I would love go back!

*Pictures to come!*

Regardless of your vacation style, Thailand has it all. What type of traveler are you?

  • Backpacker?
  • Relaxer?
  • Outdoor Enthusiast?
  • Extreme Sports?



Put Your Crampons On!

Iceland’s tourism has been booming lately. I think every other person I speak to has gone or is planning a trip in the near future.


Here are some recommendations if you’re planning to go:

Northern Lights

An incredible sight, indeed! Our trip was in July – so we didn’t experience any darkness in Iceland. If it’s on the top of your list, I suggest going closer to December, you’ll get a great view of the lights.

The benefit to going in July was that it wasn’t too cold, we had sun almost every day, and we could visit attractions anytime we wanted. Having 24h sun meant you didn’t have to hit up all of the attractions during peak hours, we sometimes found ourselves sight seeing alone during the “night”.


Rent a 4×4 and drive the Ring Road!

You can do the ring road in about a week, I’d recommend 8 full days, with travel on either end if you don’t want to feel rushed, but we did it in 7. Having a 4×4 is key because there are a lot of places you can venture off the ring road.

If you only have a few days stopover, just spend your time exploring the first few items of the following list:



Spend a day in Reykjavik

It really is a beautiful city, and a great way to start the trip off. Grab a beer and sit on a rooftop patio, walk down to the waterfront, and visit the Hallgrímskirkja Church.

Downtown Reykjavik
Hallgrímskirkja Church
The Sun Voyager


Visit the Blue Lagoon

I know, it’s so popular and “touristy” but hey, you’re a tourist. This is a must-do, no question about it. This geothermal spa has to be one of the most relaxing places I have ever been. The blue water is filled with silica, algae, and minerals, and your skin feels brand new after you get out! (Note – your hair, not so much, put some conditioner in before you go.)

We got the comfort package and found it was perfect. It includes a towel, a silica mud mask, an algae mask, and a drink. I highly recommend this package at a minimum because the algae mask was my favorite part.

Remember, you need to prebook this – it gets busy! We didn’t realize this, and we ended up with a really late booking, but it worked out really well because it was a lot less crowded, if I went again I’d definitely go back for a late evening appointment.

Blue Lagoon after closing


Sleep in a Bubble! 

Especially if you’re here to see the Northern Lights!

Our million star hotel!


Go Ice Climbing

At the very least, do a glacier walk! It’s well worth paying for a tour, the guides are amazing and they take you to some incredible spots that you would likely never venture to on your own.


Chase Waterfalls and Sheep!

My top favorites were Skogafoss, Gullfoss, Seljalandsfoss, Svartifoss – My camera died for this one



Sólheimasandur Plane Crash

It was a rainly, windy, cold 4km walk, but it was such an interesting sight to see. Plane wreckage on black sand beach. A very unique photography location! You used to be able to drive most of the way down, but they have fenced it off now so you do have to walk down, so bundle up.


Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon and Diamond Beach

Both are sights to see! No one was really at either of these locations when we went, and we almost decided not to go. This is right on the ring road, so I highly recommend making a quick stop to see. And diamond beach is just across the road.


Ride an Icelandic Horse

Fun Fact! Once their horses leave Iceland, they’re never allowed to come back, even the ones that are sent for races, so they’re very careful on what ones they choose to go.


Thinking back, I can’t believe how much we did in 7 days.

There are a ton of things to see and do, and every time I put an activity in, I remembered something else. I can’t wait to go back, there is still so much to see and so much to do, we barely ventured off the ring road!


H.B. – 


Railay Beach, Thailand a.k.a Paradise

I checked off a list of cities to visit while backpacking Thailand, and Krabi was number 3.


Although Railay is not an island, you still have to take a boat over because the location of the mountains blocks off any possible land route. The boat ride is only about 15 minutes, cost 400 Baht, and leaves every hour from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

I debated on a day trip to Railay versus staying there for a few days, and I know now that even if I had planned a day trip I would have stayed anyway.

Because how can you not stay in a place like this:

Railay Beach just after sunset


I haven’t yet mentioned the world renowned rock climbing… Don’t worry, you don’t have to be an expert to try it out. Many people of different skill levels were there, they have everything from beginner to expert routes, and they’ll put you on routes based on your skill level, and they’ll let you try some harder ones if you want to give it a shot.

My guide really pushed me into doing a route that I really didn’t think I could do which involved shimmying over a tough overhang, it felt incredible to conquer it!



Another hidden gem of the Railay area is the viewpoint lookout and the lagoon, both involve a bit of a sketchy vertical climb.

  • The viewpoint – Took us about 15 minutes to get to, and it was relatively difficult.
  • The lagoon – Took us about about 20 minutes to reach, it was more difficult than the lagoon hike, and we are faster hikers.

Many people didn’t trek to the lagoon as they found it was too far, after the vertical climb up, you basically climb vertically straight back down, so it’s a long round trip for those not used to strenuous hiking. I had read that there was a rope at the end but it was still extremely difficult to get down to, so we were just going to just check it out and see, however my update is that they actually have put in ladders to get down, so it’s really not that bad!

The lagoon – WORTH THE HIKE!

We climbed it barefoot because we didn’t want to ruin our sneakers. Everyone we passed thought we were crazy! The funny thing is we actually enjoyed the climb a lot more with no shoes – the rocks and roots we were climbing up were very smooth, they honestly didn’t feel real. Being able to grip the smooth surfaces with our whole foot made it easier, I would not have wanted shoes on!

The lagoon was completely EMPTY when we got there, it was such an incredible sight, and the fact that no one was around made it even more beautiful. We got in the water and we yelled to hear our voices echo throughout.

We couldn’t believe no one was here


We finally trekked back up to the viewpoint, which was relatively easy after the lagoon, and signs pointed us in the right direction. The viewpoint was also no disappointment.



I plan to go back in the future and spend a lot more of my time rock climbing.

Overall, I’m so happy I took a chance on Railay!



Because we had an early flight out and wanted to visit the Emerald Pool, Hot Springs, and Tiger Cave Temple, we wanted to get to Ao Nang. In hindsight, Krabi Town would have been a better base as a place to stay.

We hired a driver for the day, as we felt it would be too far for us to scooter. We decided on the following day trip:

  1. Emerald Pool first – we wanted to get there early because we heard it gets quite crowded in the afternoons
  2. Hot springs second – we wanted to experience these before climbing up to the temple, as we didn’t think we’d want a hot bath after the climb
  3. Tiger Cave Temple – a 1,237 step climb (or so they say, it was ACTUALLY 1,260)…


Emerald Pool was this stunning clear, cool, turquoise, water, I have never seen anything like it!

Picture to come!

The hot springs were REALLY hot, especially on our poor burnt skin. We still got in and after a minute or so it was enjoyable to sit in.

Water flows over the smooth rocks


Finally, the last stop! We suffered up 1,260 steps. Two stray dogs climbed just in front of us and they would stop and wait for us every so often, taunting us, and our slowness… they put us to shame.

One of the peaks at Tiger Cave Temple



I will DEFINITELY revisit Railay Beach!

I’m glad I went to Ao Nang, but I will likely not revisit.

If I had to have chosen one of the two, I would have chosen Railay Beach.






Two Days in Bangkok

What do you do if you only have two days in Bangkok?

Monastic living

YSJ –> YYZ: 2 Hours

YYZ –> PEK: 13 Hours

PEK –> BKK: 4 Hours

Time Change: 11 Hours

And so worth it! Especially since I had slept 10 hours on the second haul…

After a 45 minute cab ride and some twisting and turning down little side streets, we found our hostel, and it was time to get some sleep.

DAY 1:

Woke up nice and early for a free breakfast, which was delicious! The orange juice was smooth and sweet, and the fruit was freshly cut.

Floating Markets

Cooking delicious chicken satay

We wandered around to find our way back through the side roads, through little restaurants and markets, and finally emerged out onto a main road, where we hailed a cab.

I had read about a many different floating markets we could visit, some sounded quite touristy, and others were quite far away, so we decided on Talin Chan, which was only about 10km away.

Once we pulled up we noticed there was actually a very large local market we could walk through before getting to the floating market, which was an added bonus! The smell of spices filled the air as we walked through the main entrance.

After slowly sauntering towards the other side, we found tons of boats lined up cooking incredible food!

Everyone was very friendly!


Cooking up a storm!

After exploring, grabbing some snacks, and taking some photos, it was time to head to our next destination.

Grand Palace & Wat Pho

There was no doubt in our mind that we were in the right place. High white walls surround the entire palace, officers stand guard on all sides, and a huge crowd funneled at the main entrance.

As most know, you can’t visit a temple with your knees or shoulders exposed, so I was wearing a long skirt and had a scarf to place around my shoulders, and Nick had long shorts and a t-shirt on. Despite this, we were denied more than once…

Attempt Number 1: Nick’s knees were exposed, so we had go to purchase pants.

Attempt Number 2: My scarf covering my shoulders was not acceptable, off to buy a shirt.

Attempt Number 3: Success!

Chakri Maha Prasat

The funny thing is that all the vendors nearby sell elephant pants and shirts, so EVERYONE inside the palace was decked out in elephant clothing – I have to say it was one of my favorite parts.

All of the elephant gear…..

As soon as we got in, we were amazed by the detail and time it must have taken to build such a temple consisting of not only one masterpiece, but many.

The view as soon as you get through the main doors
Inside one of the temples at Wat Pho

End of Day 1 – We grabbed some ice cream and headed to find some supper, still jet lagged, it was time to get some rest!

DAY 2:

4 a.m = RISE AND SHINE!! – Not actually, but it was difficult to sleep still being on Atlantic Canada time so I was wide awake, but I tried to force myself to go back to sleep for a bit.

Today we really wanted to get lost! The perfect place to get lost in Bangkok is in the small side streets of China Town.

Our first sights of Chinatown!

China town was amazing, there was lots to see and buy! We also took our first tuktuk here. I highly recommend it if you want to stay around town.

Tuk Tuk Taxi!

Oh, and I almost forgot – on our way over, we accidentally stumbled through the amulet market, which a was pretty cool mistake!


We were very satisfied with our two days, especially with the tiredness we weer experiencing mid-afternoon.

Our flight out to Phuket was at 7 p.m., so unfortunately, we had to head to the airport!

For Next Time:

We agreed that if we had more time we would have likely ventured outside the main city. If we had one more evening, we would have gone to check out the sky-bar.


Financing Travel

One of the most frequent questions I am asked is how I can afford to travel, so I have decided to field that one in a post, and it’s a bit lengthy.

For starters, I am a minimalist. I truly believe that having more ‘stuff’ only complicates my life, so plain and simple, I don’t buy things that I don’t need.

Really, it all comes down to opportunity cost, if you want to go on a trip, you need to give something else up to save for it, which comes easier to a minimalist that isn’t buying much in the first place.

Here’s what I have done over the past few years to improve my financial situation:


You Can’t Afford That Car!

Sure, you can afford to make payments of $400 a month for six or seven years, but who in their right mind would do that?!

This one is a big one for me. I don’t have a car payment.

This one is about finding a happy medium. You don’t want to throw away money on an old used car that isn’t in great shape to try and save a ton of money upfront, but fail inspection every year with hundreds of dollars in repairs. That being said, you also don’t need a top of the line new vehicle with an added sports package either.

My car is a base model, I bought it used, and I have paid it off. It’s a 2008 and I plan on driving it until it starts costing me more yearly than it would to make payments on something newer. When I do NEED something new, I’ll try and find something off a lease, only a few years old, low kms, and try and get lucky with some warranty left. I’ll make sure that I can pay it off within two years of the purchase.

Personally, I think if you can’t afford to pay your vehicle off in less than 3 years, then you simply can not afford the vehicle.

Say you find a car for $12,000, and you plan to drive the car for 6 years but pay it off in three – there’s your travel money.

Bottom line. Stop wasting money on depreciating assets that you can’t afford in the first place.


Investments That Count.

I realize not everyone is a finance guru, so I’m not talking stocks and bonds here.

Three years ago I installed a ductless heat pump in my home and got rid of my old oil tank. I have been saving money monthly ever since. Sure, there was an upfront cost to buy and install of about $2,000, but it paid itself off within a year and I continue to save hundreds in heating costs each month. Another great benefit is my house is actually warm all winter because I don’t have to constantly worry about my heating bill! Not to mention this is a great selling feature when the time comes.

Ask around and look on government websites for any tax breaks or cash rebate programs before you make any changes to your home. I learned of a provincially sponsored program that paid me back for installing insulation in my basement, the program paid the entire cost of installing an even higher grade insulation than I had originally planned, and I’m still saving from it!

Ask yourself before spending, is this an investment or an expense? If it’s an expense, ensure it’s a required expense before moving forward.


Consolidate Debt.

Are you paying on student loans at 5%+, a line of credit, credit cards, and/or any other form of debt?

Take a look at your options, because having multiple debt sources at varying rates is rarely an intelligent financial move. If you don’t understand financial jargon, have a finance professional look at your situation and help you identify where you can save money. Your best bet is finding a relative or friend who knows someone in the industry to find you a contact that you can TRUST. I very rarely recommend going to the commercial banks unless you have a trusted contact that will act in YOUR best interest, and not for their commission.

I refinanced my student loan and my student line of credit into the equity I had built in my mortgage at a new lower interest rate – and I’m paying LESS interest on the new total loan than I was on ONLY my house before! Understanding amortization is important before agreeing  any sort of refinance. It could work out to be more expensive if you don’t act with a healthy skepticism and read all of the fine print.

I read every word in every contract and I ask lots of questions about anything vague before signing. I have sat in banks and read every word of 30+ page documents before signing.

You have a right to read, ask questions, and understand what you’re signing!


Small Purchases Matter.

Latte every morning? I wish!

Buy a cheaper coffee every morning? Nope! Even a $2 coffee equates to $60 a month!

I wait until the k-cups at my favorite coffee spot go on sale (once every few months) and I stock up! I keep them in my desk drawer and use the coffee machine at work. Okay, okay, once in a while I splurge and get a latte… but at 0.35 cents a coffee on a regular day, I don’t mind once in a while!

I pay $10.5 for coffee per month. I only drink one a day, and if I start drinking two, I ween myself back to one – for both health and cost reasons I don’t think I need more than one per day.

Look at your monthly expenses, take a run through bank and credit card statements and add up what you spend on food, entertainment, coffee, etc. and see where you can reduce costs.

Other items:

  • I call and get new insurance quotes for car and house insurance about once per year and I switch or get my current company to match if I find a better rate. I also call and argue ANY increases.
  • Fight your property tax bill! If you haven’t completed any renovations and they’ve increased your bill more than a percent or two, call them up and ask them to come assess your property.
  • Cable – I realize that the “whole package” is only about $20 more a month than if you only have internet, but I still cut cable and home phone anyway, because that’s $20 a month that I can save!
  • Set an entertainment budget – we all want to enjoy a meal out or an event once in a while, just budget for it so you’re prepared, if you don’t spend your budget then that’s a bonus.
  • Girls, stop wasting so much money on makeup! I wear it myself, but I just don’t go crazy.
  • Going over the top at Christmas time. I realize this is a time for giving, and I am guilty of overspending in the past, but set a spending limit and keep to it.
  • Take advantage of bank accounts/credit cards/combinations of the two that give you benefits. I received a $350 rebate to switch banks, and having my type of account reduces my $120/yr fee credit card to a $0 credit card.


Thinking long term is key to saving for trips. It’s all about getting your finances in order, as boring as that may be!

Then of course there is travelling on your budget, which I will save for another day.


What have you done, or what do you plan to do, to improve your financial situation?








Life in a Bubble

Nope, not figuratively!

I’ve noticed 5 million star hotels popping up all over the place lately and decided to try one out. Just outside of Reykjavik, our accommodations for the night were simply a giant plastic bubble. How incredible is that?

The bubble structure is kept inflated by a slight over-pressure from a noiseless ventilation system. It renews the air inside 2-7 times the volume per hour to prevent humidity, and the system has heating elements with a thermostat so the bubble stays warm – even in the middle of winter!

We pulled up to an adorable little house to meet the host. After following her down the road and off into the trees, she led us to our bubble. We were so excited we didn’t listen to a word she said as we ran around it taking pictures and poking it.

We grabbed all of our stuff from the car and piled it up next to the entrance.

Now, how do we get in this thing without letting all of the air out?

We unzipped the front, and the entire entrance way collapsed onto us and all of our stuff as we fell to the floor laughing, but also somewhat concerned we had just deflated the entire thing.

While fumbling around on the floor underneath all of the collapsed plastic, we found the zipper that allowed us to get into the bubble. Before unzipping it, taking into consideration what had just happened, we zipped up the outside zipper before undoing the inside zipper – and there we had it! The entrance filled back up with air and we were INSIDE!

So to summarize:

Step 1: Unzip entrance zipper

Step 2: Step inside the deflated part

Step 3: Zip up the outside zipper

Step 4: Unzip the inside zipper

Naturally, after figuring all of this out, we had a photo shoot.


The bubble created a serene feeling that nothing is between you and the rest of nature. I highly recommend this experience to anyone that enjoys outdoor exploring.

Unfortunately, there is no aurora borealis in the summer months in Iceland, and therefore we did not get that experience. It is now something I plan to go back in the winter months for.









Wandering is the Way We Discover the World

There I was, stranded in the middle of no where.

The solution to my problem was right there in my hands, but I still couldn’t solve it. Oh, the frustration. I bumbled through each item.

Some patches, a small piece of sandpaper, a long tube, a random stick with a handle on the end, and rubber solution – what the hell do I do with all of this stuff? I can’t believe this happened.

Continue reading