Canada – Around the world in 65 Days

65 days ago I took off from Edmonton International Airport on a journey that would see 18 flights through 16 different airports (Edmonton, Toronto, London, Athens, Mytilene, Athens, Istanbul, Abu Dhabi, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Krabi, Bangkok – BKK, Bangkok – DMK, Phuket, Bangkok – DMK, Bangkok – BKK, Shanghai, Vancouver, Abbotsford, Edmonton, Saskatoon) Yesterday when I touched down in Edmonton on my way to Saskatoon I had successfully circumnavigated the world by air! Bucket list – CHECK, haha.

Now as I sit here on my parents couch and reflect on the journey I am absolutely overwhelmed at the entire experience, my heart is full with amazing memories and incredible friends old and new that have journeyed with me along the way. Thank you to each and every one of you, this adventure has been one for the record books. Thank you, Jesus, it is exactly what my Spirit needed after 16 months of beating my brain with academia.

I left Thailand early in the morning on March 31, en route to Vancouver. Along the way though I had a stop over in Shanghai, China. This was the first time I had ever been in China and it was interesting to say the least. First off, because I was only there for about 10 hours I decided not to get a local SIM, this… was a mistake, haha, as the availability of public WiFi was pretty tough to find without one and so Google Maps ended up no use to me. I must admit, it’s a bit alarming at what a crutch Google maps is for me when I travel as without it I was more than a little lost at times, haha. Thankfully, some screen caps and research I had done earlier combined with the help of a friendly concierge at a random hotel I was able to maneuver my way through this adventure unscathed.

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My Shanghai adventure begins with a trip on the MagLev train, a high speed train that got up to 431 KM/h how crazy is that! We were zipping by! And most importantly it turns a long trip downtown into a manageable hour as it took me a good 1/2 to 3/4 of the way down the regular transit path. Arriving downtown I attempted to find a dumping house that a friend had recommended, I wandered for a bit using my screen caps on Maps but in the end this is where I discovered that WiFi for tourists without a local SIM is pretty much not gonna happen, oh well. I wandered some more finally consulting the concierge at the Park Hotel on how to get to the Oriental Pearl which as was only a train stop away thankfully. It definitely was a cool sight, but I didn’t go up as I was being cheap and it was foggy/smoggy anyways so I was not confident on the view I would get from it, that and I was already hungry and should be heading back to the airport soon. So instead I went to a little Ramen place and got some food, which was ok but I got the feeling this was like the McDonald’s of ramen and dumplings so I won’t judge China’s cuisine by it haha. From there I got back on the train and headed back to the airport. I did go the wrong direction for 2 stops first (a pretty typical DaveLife move) but eventually I did make it back to the Maglev and Airport. Onward home!

Arriving home in Canada did not stop my adventures. I got in Friday night and had set myself up at the Holiday Inn Express at the Vancouver Airport, nothing beats a comfy bed after a long flight and to my joy they upgraded me to a King bed, ahhhhh. I instantly crashed, only to be woken at 1am with the jet lag hunger pangs, oi, so there I am searching the hotel for food at 1:30 in the morning, but it is a new hotel so none of that has been set up yet, no room service and not even a vending machine. So there I am ordering and subsequently gorging myself on pizza at like 2:30 in the morning.

2017-03-31 20.09.03

The next day I laid around in my comfy accommodation till check out, hoped back on the airport shuttle to the car rental place and after some minor confusion (FYI Alamo YAY, National Nay), hit the road to North Van to meet up with my buddy Kevin where I would be staying for the night. Looking for a mini adventure Kev had tickets to the Capilano Suspension Bridge and I had never been so off we went! Great little park there, I love BC, it is so green and air so crisp it really is a fabulous place to spend time. (TRAVEL TIP: There is another suspension bridge not to far from here called Lynn Canyon and I believe it is FREE, so if you are not lucky enough to know someone who has tickets to Capilano and are looking for a little more budget friendly experience I would recommend it because as cool as Capilano was I don’t quite see the value of $40 per person)

After, I met up with my friend Alana for a coffee (ALWAYS a delight) before returning to Kev’s for an evening watching sports. You have no idea how much I missed hockey while overseas. Super pumped to come home to my Flames in the playoffs! Haha, way to go boys!!! We did do a little tour of North Van though, man this town is gorgeous! Definitely not opposed to the Lord moving me out here.

The next morning I headed off to Langley, to check out Sunday morning service at Sonrise Church where my buddy Chris is the lead pastor. GREAT SERVICE! Holy Spirit was kicking some butt this morning. Was so grateful to be able to worship with this crew, definitely felt the love.

The next few days, I were spent fighting jet lag, contemplating life and moving my existing blog posts over to this new venue. If you haven’t noticed yet, I was pretty unhappy with Bloggers user interface so have shifted to a WordPress site. Please let me know what you think of the changes. Hopefully this one will work better for all involved. I have really enjoyed blogging and intend to continue, so please click follow down below and make sure you never miss a post ūüôā

Anyways that takes us to yesterday where my touch down in Edmonton completed my circle of the world, and my touch down in Saskatoon ended my journey. Props to my pops for driving the 2.5 hours to Toon town to pick me up.

Thanks everyone for following along and stay tuned for posts sharing all the things I have learned along the way.

Cheers!

Dave

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Thailand РBeach and Bangkok Adventures 

Originally posted –¬†April 01, 2017

Well, as I post this, I have just spent my first night back in Canada. AHHHH!!!! So good to be back on home soil. I love to travel but also definitely have a full appreciation of being back where everyone speaks english and I can drink the water. Haha!

The final 3 weeks of my journey were spent across¬†Thailand.¬†I arrived in Krabi and click my brain into arrival mode – bought another new sim, got money and figured out how to actually get to my hotel on Railay Beach as it can only be reached by boat. I figure out the bus/boat system (sort of anyways) buy my ticket an hop aboard. Easy peasy, or so I think…
A good 30 minutes into my trip I am chatting away with my random new friend (I’ve had a lot of those) when the bus pulls over on the side of the highways and the driver yells at me this is my stop, I am very confused as it is the edge of the road, not at a pier which I thought we were going to and there isn’t even any¬†water anywhere in sight which makes no sense to me because I am supposed to be taking a boat the rest of the way. It’s also dark now so that’s not really encouraging me to leave the safety of the bus but he shouts again in broken english that this is my stop so I grab my bags and cross my fingers that he knows better than I do (usually the case). I check in at the little office my bus driver friend was pointing me to and yes he was correct the pier is about 50 yards in from the road, no crisis, whew!

I get the boat ride settled and after a short wait the long boat we are taking arrives and takes us on our journey through the pitch black waters towards Railay. A cool little town I quickly find my hotel, praise Jesus it’s nice, well nice enough, there were some REALLY nasty trip advisor comments so I was concerned but for the cost it was definitely nice enough. I shower and freshen up then decide its time to wander. It’s a very low key town, lots of ¬†little shops but very few people on the whole. I wander the beach front to the end of the board walk where there is a little beach bar where I was able to find a hammock and a cold drink and sit back and listen to the ocean waves crash into shore. Pretty much perfection.

Having enough of the quiet, I left again on search of more adventures, on my previous roaming a promoter in front of the towns night spot “The Last Bar” had stopped me to inform me about live Thai boxing that would be happening that night so I made my way back to it. IT WAS AWESOME! And then to close the night off there were was a fire show, I am super sad that my phone died before I got video as these guys were intense! After that though I was done, bed time for this kid, so back to the hotel for me.

Day 2, I spent wandering the rest of the area, there are 3 beaches each more beautiful than the last, lots of little shops. I figured out where to go rock climbing and where some cool hiking spots were, saw monkeys and also saw what a longboat actually looks like as it had been dark when I climbed aboard the previous night. (They look like a bit like a death trap FYI so I am a bit glad I was kept literally in the dark haha) Spent some time at the beach, by the pool and in my room with the AC (its super hot here) and just generally relaxed, ate some great Thai food, and got a Thai massage. Super chill day. (My favorite kind haha)

 

The 3rd day is where it gets a little dicey unfortunately. I had planned to get up early and do the rock climbing but instead I lazily spent the morning enjoying the last of my AC comfortable living before moving over to my much cheaper but MUCH less comfortable accommodation. Don’t get me wrong I have long held a dream of laying in a hammock on the front of a grass hut near the beach pecking stories into my laptop, so this was very much my choice, but I knew I would miss the AC. Leaving just before noon I got to my hut and moved in, very simple just a bed and a shelf, bathroom with “basic” plumbing (a cold water line to a sink, a shower head and a bucket which was to act as the toilets tank). Lots of creepy crawlies but it had a fan and a mosquito net, ¬†so I would be fine. ¬†After grabbing lunch I was hit with a restless mood so decided I would spend the afternoon hiking up to the lookout and lagoon. I was told it was beautiful and it definitely was, but the hike itself, wow! It was not what I had expected. One of the toughest I have done, but totally worth the efforts as you can see from the pictures.

Fantastic adventure… Check! But, this is when the dicey starts. About 3/4 of the way back down the trail I start feeling “off” I just assumed I was dehydrated, ¬†I had drank a water before I left but this was a tough hike so I was pretty low on fluid. Anyways, I decide to forgo wandering the caves which were just down the trail a way and head back in search of water. I get back to my hut, get water, rest in my hammock but progressively and quickly deteriorate. I am still not sure if it was the food from lunch or the heat that sent me spiralling, perhaps a combination of both, but the next 12 hours would be spent with the porcelain throne my body fully rejecting anything and EVERYTHING I had put in it. Legit Hell. Being sick is bad, being sick in a smelly foreign country all alone in a hot bamboo hut with no real plumbing, that was just the worst (great literary term, I know) by the next morning I had enough so I messaged my friend Niamh in Bangkok. I had previously planned to stay with her the following week but she took pity on my sorry soul and invited me to come earlier. The girl is a God¬†send, a legitimate hero. I did temporarily feel ok for a bit of that day an opportunity I used to go find nausea meds, but it would seem that I over did it and ended up paying for puking in an alley just before my hotel. (TMI? sorry) The meds did help over all but I had had enough of that muggy smelly little town (Sick David has a bad attitude lol) and caught a boat out the next morning even though my flight wasn’t until afternoon. Thankfully the airport was and I found a quiet corner and just sat and waited for my flight.

I got to Bangkok about the same time Niamh was getting off work so I was able to connect with her at the Metro station near her place. There I just basically rested the next couple days watching A LOT of Netflix (How to make a murderer is freaking creepy, yo) Back on my feet my days in Bangkok have been spent using the condo’s office space to work on a project I have on the go for when I arrive back in Canada, relaxing by the pool and using the gym, Asia knows how to set their tenants up right thats for sure. Like myself Niamh enjoys an active social life so most evenings have been spent out for dinners and drinks with friends from Bangkok and across the world. One restaurant called Above Eleven is located on a rooftop patio of one of the sky scrapers, the view was tremendous.
I also did a lot of mini adventures, toured around Chatachuk market one Saturday morning, wandered the crazy huge malls that are in Bangkok, as well as founds some cool coffee shops. I even went and had a suit custom made for me. (Best decision ever!)

It also sounds funny but one of my favorite Bangkok adventures was my trip to see the Logan movie. The theatre had these crazy big comfy seats and the lobby looked super classy I felt like I was going to see a play on broadway or something. Was SUPER cool.

My friend Darren from my university days also lives here. He was a party promoter at one point so he took me out the first Friday I was here and showed me the night life. This place gets crazy thats for sure, there was a time in my life when I would have gotten into a lot of trouble in this town haha. Nowadays however… ¬†we were home by 11. #oldmen
Last weekend Niamh and I met a couple of her friends from teaching at a resort in Phuket called the Cassia. Gorgeous place, I have discovered that I much prefer nice hotels to grass huts near the beach. Amazing what you find out about yourself when you travel haha. It was a great time Mitch and Rachel were great to hangout with and had an awesome little dude who helped keep things interesting. We did a workout on paddle boards at the beach as a group from Niamh’s gym was there the same time. And I got a nasty sunburn, but hey cant win em all!

 

 

The final week there I spent a lot of time in the office working on my new project but I did manage a few adventures! It was Niamh’s birthday, so we went out with her work friends for that and then for my last night in town we went SURFING! Little known fact one of my biggest disappointments for my trip was when I discovered that there was no surf this time of year in Thailand, I mean what is the point of having an ocean if you can’t surf it, seems like such a waste ūüėõ So this for me WAS AMAZING! I want one of these machines in my back yard. It like shoots water up from the bottom simulating a wave, definitely different to ride but was so much fun, I wish I had more than an hour with it lol and didnt want to share :-P. ¬†On the way home we stopped at a Bangkok landmark that is about to be torn down, Cheap Charlie’s is a little dive bar just off Soi 11, it has no walls just a rope that separates the “bar” from the street, its always packed too, partially because the rent was super low so he passed the savings on to his patrons I think. Anyways, the entire area block is being torn down to make room for a new condo (tonnes of new development around here) this week so end of an era. The final Bangkok adventure was a tuk tuk ride the rest of the way home, lol just a few blocks but I had to get in one at least once.

And from there I went home, finished packing ,and hopped an UBER to the airport first thing the next morning. So long Thailand, HELLO CANADA!!!

Malaysia – Dave Life Squared

Originally Posted –¬†March 27, 2017

Upon my departure from Istanbul, I made my way through Abu Dhabi and Kuala Lumpur to my next destination РPenang, Malaysia. 

Within moments of my arrival to Malaysia, I had a new SIM card, pocket full of Malaysian cash and was ready for adventures! The first of which was my very first UBER ride. Yes, I realize I am one of the few people to never have used this service before but man was I impressed. As a traveller I am always nervous in a new city, there are way too many stories of getting ripped off by cabbies at the airport. UBER let me watch the entire drive towards my destination with their real time map, talk about piece of mind. Add in the fact that it was about $10 for a 45 minute drive across the city and we will call that a win. 

Touring around on the back of Dave’s bike, snapping pics as I went

Post UBER experience I arrived at my friends Dave, Tasha and family’s condo which was big, beautiful and way less to rent than mine back home, these expat guys are doing something right I think haha. After getting settled, Dave took me out to a great Chinese place for ¬†dinner and then we just hung out at cool spot on the beach and caught up. Why am I eating Chinese food in Malaysia? Fun Fact: there is a tonne of Chinese influence on Penang as they have heavily invested in the area.

Most of my next day was spent relaxing in Dave’s pool while he worked. The downtime was good as there is a lot to process on this trip. It’s an odd season of life and floating in a pool in a tropical climate is definitely welcomed as I sort out the next moves of my life. We did meet up with a friend of Dave’s for lunch and had awesome bbq steaks and satay for dinner so the day wasn’t without any adventure.

The next morning we went a bit more touristy. Ate breakfast near Dave’s son’s school, I forget the name of what we ordered but it was some Malay dish. After we went the “Wet Market” basically a farmers market/butcher shop, all the fruits and veggies of a typical farmers market but also dead chickens, pigs, fish (I don’t remember if there was beef or not) all being cut up and served direct to customer. Pigs ears hanging from the stalls, fully plucked chickens with their heads still attached, was definitely a sight, but we got our order of chicken breasts and carried on. After dropping off our groceries and a quick stop at home we were off to meet with another connection of Dave’s who is an expat working in the area, was great to hear his experiences as he works with a missions organization throughout South East Asia. ¬†After lunch Dave and I scooted off on his motorbike down to the Georgetown area of Penang, this is an older hippy vibed area that has a bunch of street art. We toured around on a pedal cart and I will do a separate post later with all the art pictures I took as there were a lot. We ended the tour with some delicious cake at a cool spot called China House, sugary goodness for sure. I can’t remember the name of the spot we had dinner that night, I want to call it AVA but not sure. It was cool though, lots of food stalls all in a lot, which let you choose what you wanted that evening, lots of very strange choices and I of course chose something that I had no idea how to pronounce, haha. All in all a super fun filled day!

My last day, we went out for Nazi kandar for lunch, basically a Malaysian form of Indian food. Definitely delicious and like everything else here super cheap. After lunch we spent some time at the mall which I wandered while Dave ran errands, found a very cool marketing exhibit for the LOGAN movie which I will also post separately later. The rest of the day was low key as Dave needed to prep for a speaking engagement he had on the weekend, so I hit up some floating in the pool and then after dinner checked out the night market. Night market was cool lots of little shops selling knock offs of all sorts, picked up¬†a sweet pair of “Raybans”, found a barber and got a fresh cut, and closed it off by finding a Starbucks and strolling my way down the beach.¬†
The next morning I hopped another UBER to the airport and was Railay¬†Beach bound ūüôā

Istanbul – Ramblings from the Journey

Ramblings about Istanbul!

I am not the best travel blogger it would seem. I am loving the adventures that I am on but finding time to share stories along the way is proving to be difficult. Any bloggers with tips out there please share! haha.

Here is a bit though on my adventures through Istanbul, five days in this super cool city was not enough. I will definitely have to come back someday.

The Blue Mosque

On the completion of my Greek adventure, the more personal travel portion of my excursion began. First stop being Istanbul, you hear Istanbul in the news a lot lately often in an unfavourable light thanks to the attempted coup and some bombings that have occurred in the city in past year. So to start I will say this, never at any point did I feel even remotely unsafe. It was a beautiful city with beautiful people an absolute delight to experience from beginning to end. Thanks so much to Danny and Alycia for having me you guys are the greatest.

I arrived late in the evening on the 1st and to my surprise, friends from Regina, Nathan and Amanda were expected shortly after me. Unfortunately, the shortly portion of that statement was negated by heavy fogs on the city which delayed their flight by a few hours. Hours which I did get to put to good use catching up with Danny who was gracious enough to come and meet us all at the airport. It was awesome catching up and was great to get a first hand account of some of the craziness that we hear about in the news. Not to mention the unique perspective he holds from being a Christian in a dominantly Muslim country. Truly an enlightening evening. Though very veeeeery long wait, by the time got home it was 4:30 am needless to say I crashed hard when we arrived.

Waking late the next morning we just kind of hung out till the afternoon when Danny introduced me to Istanbul transit and we adventured downtown to the Kadikoy area. Ok, I say adventured, but for Danny this is just everyday life. Regardless, we crammed on to a crowded bus and started our hour long journey to meet Danny’s Turkish tutor in a sweet little coffeeshop in Kadikoy. Kadikoy is kind of the trendy waterfront area, theres a lot happening around here lots of people coming and going. It reminded me of Times Square in a lot of ways. (I found that a lot of Istanbul has parallels to New York, at least in my mind and experience) Anyways, we met up with Mahmet the tutor, an awesome Turkish guy who loves sports and laughs a lot, seemed like a real genuine dude. They dialogued back and forth, mostly in Turkish while I enjoyed a deeeeeelicious coffee. (The Turks do java well) After, we met up with and I actually got to meet my roommate from the previous night, Cole. (Neither of us had actually been awake at the same time in the house yet) Good guy, on his own random adventure. Anyways, we hoped the bus back to Danny’s for dinner and shut er down for an early night.

Kadikoy

The next day was tourist time, Danny was busy so Cole, Myself, Nathan and Amanda, and Mose (one of my friends from EuroRelief who ended up on a long stop over) all took to the streets on our own. To start Cole and I had to meet up with Nathan and Amanda while we were waiting something crazy occurred…

There we are sitting in front of Starbucks when right beside us pops out from behind a van my friend Sean from Saskatchewan! How on earth do you meet someone randomly in a city of 15 million people. I knew he was there and all but we had yet to connect any kind of meeting, just boom there he was haha, so WILD!

Anyways, Sean goes onward to his meeting, Amanda and Nathan show up and we grab some doner from a little shop (SOOOO GOOD) also happen across a film shoot of some sort. After our stomachs are filled we head out on the ferry across to the European side of the city in search of adventures!

First stop, the Blue Mosque, (that’s the building in the first picture up top) we meet Mose in the courtyard out front, and proceed to the queue inside, make friends with the random American girl ahead of us, proceed inside and are absolutely taken aback by this marvellous work. I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves.

From there we would make our way cross the street to the Aya Sofia. Another stunning building the Aya Sofia was built by Constantine as a church but was later turned into a mosque when Islam became the dominant religion and all of the mosaics were covered over. It has since been turned into a museum and the plaster covering the mosaics are being removed to reveal the beautifully preserved mosaics.

Funny story about getting in though…

As we arrive to the Aya Sofia we are met by a LONG line up, obviously looking disheartened a sketchyish looking an calls out to us “You pay cash?” “yes yes we pay cash” “Come, Come, $200 lira, come come” he hurries us toward the front of the line, everyones SCAM radar is going off hard, mine included as he basically pushes us forward while demanding 200 lira, scanning the ticket office as we rush past I notice that it is in fact 40 lira a ticket, 40 x 5 = 200 ok at least the amount is right, my mind justifies. “200 lira you pay me total, pay each other after” he rushes our decision. Not wanting to get scammed but not wanting to wait an hour in a queue I jam 200 lira in his hand grab the tickets and move quickly towards the gate trying in vain to keep my eyes on this random dude who was either our time saviour or just scammed me out of 200 lira. We get to the gate and the tickets… the tickets work! Awesome! Queue avoided, hour saved, thanks so much random sketchy dude.

Inside, well I’ll let the pictures speak again, this place was just… WOW!

Isn’t¬†that amazing! But we aren’t done yet. Onward to the Spice Market! This place was crazy! Shop upon shop of nuts, oils, and candies, but not just any candy… Turkish Delight. Which each shop owner claims his to be the best and shoves it in your face to try. Lol. I actually don’t understand how they actually make any money as within 10 minutes of being there I had probably “tested” a dozen pieces of the various flavours of Delight and had a fully satiated any craving I held for sweets.
After touring the market a bit, gaining an education on Turkish Delight we met Danny and was time to close our evening with one final adventure — DINNER. Dinner tonight would be at a chain type restaurant that specialized in and I think only sold a dish called Iskander. Basically beef on bread, covered in tomato sauce, served doused in butter with a side of yogurt. Heart stoppingly delicious!

The next morning, Danny, his kids, Cole and I would do some local exploring. Climbing (ok we took a cab) to the top of the hill near Danny and Alycia’s home. The views from up here were spectacular! The photos don’t do it justice. This is such a beautiful city! We had a very Turkish at the restaurant that was up on the hill and made our way home. The afternoon was spent celebrating Danny’s tutor and friend Mahmet as it was his birthday. A bunch of us just hung out and laughed for a few hours, was great for me too as my friend Sean is also one of Mahmet’s students so we got to connect for a bit. We also took Mahmet for Chinese food, a huge step for this man devoutly Turkish culinary tastes. But he did great, even tried some sushi. (Couldn’t get him to try the eel though, maybe next time) Anyways thats all just to show you don’t have to adventure half way across the world to put a little adventure into your life ūüėČ
And that my friends is my Turkish highlight reel.

Till next time

D

this one has actually been picked away by visitors as there is gold in the mosaics
there is a mirror above the door that reflects the previous image, I forget the significance of this though