The blog is not finished! But after the Theft (yes, capital letters), the want/need to update the blog took second fiddle to dealing with the Theft and just finishing the trip sans computer. Since being home, it's been hard to get that motivation to complete it. But I will. Ever so slowly. Please be patient!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

1 Year Down

I’ve been on the road for over a year now(actually, at the time of writing this it has been 13 months). I had wanted to write a post for my 1 year anniversary and my thoughts at that time but a combination of laziness and writers block stopped me. That is something that has yet to change on this trip, the writers block. For the most part, I know there aren’t too many people outside my family and friends that are reading this, but I still feel compelled to write something of at least some semblance.

Via rail board

I guess that is still the perfectionist in me. I’m rarely, if ever, satisfied with my own writing. But, nonetheless, here I am. At the tail end of my trip, having been on the road, living out of my backpack, for 13 months. And what a year it has been.

December 2010
My trip began at 11am from Saskatoon, Canada. I began first by taking VIA Rail across to Ottawa and visiting friends in that city, as well as Burlington, Guelph, and Toronto. The first international local though would be Peru. It would also be the only country I technically visit in December. I was terrified at first. I remember that very first night in Lima, laying in bed thinking “What the hell am I doing?” Within a few days though I was getting used to this whole travel thing. I saw many amazing things: the Nazca Lines, the first of many central squares, Colca Canyon(where I walked almost an entire day barefoot thanks to the shoes breaking apart), and spending Christmas in Cuzco with the Carnegie Family. I ended December on the Salkantay trail to Machu Picchu, ringing in the new year with a monkey in my lap in Santa Theresa.

Nazca LinesIMG_0407

January 2011
January began on a huge high(literally) as I climbed the stairs to enter Machu Picchu. It was an amazing way to start the new year. Natural wonders took front stage this month as I took to Lake Titicaca on the border with Bolivia. This was also the spot of my first land border crossing of the trip. The Bolivian Amazon captured my heart in the Pampas, and made me homesick in the Selva. La Paz, the largest city in Bolivia, made me literally sick with the flu and altitude sickness when I got back and left me with a horrible impression of the city. Cochabamba boosted my spirits(with alcoholic ice cream floats) and my travels slowed down enough for me to enjoy some home comforts in the form of movie theaters(where I watched The Green Hornet). A long day and night journey took me to Uyuni to finish the month off.

Lake TiticacaIMG_1378

February 2011
The Salar de Uyuni, the massive salt flats in southern Bolivia, greeted me in the beginning of February and took me all the way to Chile. The altitude once again killed me while on that tour and forced me to rush down to the coastal city of Iquique to recover. It was here, in an apartment that I rented, that I met Francisco and began my short, two-week love affair with him. Our first date being on February 14. I also experienced my first earthquake that same day. Settling down in that city was just the rest I needed, but leaving Iquique and Francisco was a sad moment. In Santiago, a city I loved for the distinct reason that it had a metro system, a group I came to call the Santiago Gang formed. We hung out for almost a full week. I also went to my first overseas Geocaching Event while in the city.

Francisco, Daniela, and I IMG_2058

March 2011
Crossing the Andes into Argentina, I entered the land of steak and tango. And I got my fill of both! I was lucky enough to be in Mendoza for their wine harvest festival, but this also meant that the majority of the vineyards were shut down to take part in the festivities in the town itself. I went white water rafting for the first time in the same part of the river that the Amazing Race did when they visited the area. I made it to Buenos Aires where I danced Tango in the street, got insanely drunk at a gay pub crawl, and fell in love with Eva Peron. I also became enraptured by the beauty of Iguaçu Falls. I had my first experience in a bar’s back room while in Foz do Iguacu, Brazil and finished the month off laying on the beaches of Rio de Janiero and enjoying the wonderful view of the men in skimpy bathing suits.

The Passion of the Tango in Buenos AiresIMG_3082

April 2011
April was probably the biggest travel month of the entire trip. I began in Brazil and Sao Paulo. Flew off to Canada to spend four days in Toronto where I voted in the federal election, did laundry, and introduced a bunch of people in my hostel to the wonders of Tim Horton’s coffee, Caesar cocktails, and poutine. Then, after being bumped up to Business Class, I landed in Europe! I amused myself with theme parks and random wanderings in Madrid, and fell in love with the city of Barcelona thanks to the generosity of my amazing friends Jordi and Esteban who let me stay with them for free. My birthday, at the end of the month was held in Lisbon, Portugal with a rousing festival with drums and people wearing bloody costumes.

Happy Birthday to Me!IMG_5473

May 2011
May was  month of even more intense contrasts as I went from the bustle of Lisbon to the old world of Porto to the relaxation of Lagos in southern Portugal. Hungover, I took the bus and train into Spain where I met my coworker Kelsi who was doing a Aux Pair job for a family in a tiny little town. And then, within 20 hours, I was in Fez, Morocco, a world unlike any I had seen. I met up immediately with Kelly and Jaime in my hostel and would stick with them for my entire trip in Morocco. Visiting the Sahara, exploring roman ruins, getting lost in the medinas, and finally chilling in the bohemian center of Essaouira.

In the SaharaIMG_7062

June 2011
One of the countries and cultures I was the most excited to finally see in person was Egypt, and June began with me landing in the heart of Cairo and Egypt’s Arab Spring. It was immediately clear that tourism was suffering. The weeks in Morocco had already prepared me for the Middle Eastern style of shopkeepers, but even that preparation didn’t stop me from being conned into some stores a couple times. I saw the pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx in person and was blown away by the sheer engineering feat needed to build them. I also met Mick and Vitaly whom I would hang out with for the majority of my trip. After Luxor and Aswan, we took off for the dive capital of Dahab where I experienced my first scuba diving trip. Though, with a sad goodbye, I left Egypt and landed in Greece where I would spend the rest of the month traveling with my good friend Kelly. It was a whirlwind trip through Greece and Italy, with many amazing sites, some harrowing adventures(including almost killing her on a trek in the islands), and long travel days. Seeing her leave was a sad day for me.

Sunset on the Nile RiverIMG_7679

July 2011
I escaped the expensiveness of Italy for the beauty of the Balkans in the form of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Both countries stole my heart. The bus ride down from Split to Dubrovnik along the coast had some of the most beautiful scenery I had ever seen. Though Dubrovnik was the reason I came to Croatia, I was highly disappointed in the city and disheartened with the hoards of “Cruisers” that would invade the city. Bosnia was an amazing shift and quickly worked it’s way to the top three position on my favourite country list. The history of the area is heart wrenching but the spirit of the people moved me so much. Mostar quickly became one of my favourite cities. While small, it had a rough beauty to it that I loved. Sarajevo captured my heart as well. It was a country building itself back up from the atrocities it faced in the 90s. And it was doing so beautifully.

The Old Bridge in Mostar, Bosnia and HerzegovinaIMG_0139

August 2011
August will forever be etched in my mind for many reasons. First, I met Jaime of Breakaway Backpacker in Amsterdam for Gay Pride. Where we both behaved ourselves. It was amazing to visit that city together and I will always remember the meals I cooked and the times we shared(and tripsitting as well!). August was also memorable for the little incidents with my credit cards being cancelled by my bank because of new ones with Chips being sent out. Lucky for me, I was going to Berlin to stay with Jordi and Esteban once again and my sister was amazing enough to DHL the new cards to me. Saying goodbye once again sucked. August culminated in a flurry of cities and countries. Prague, Budapest, Belgrade, and Bucharest flew by. I hit a wall in Belgrade where I was seriously contemplating giving up and going home. I was so sick of travel at that time. But then I went to Romania . . .

Jaime and I at Amsterdam Gay PrideIMG_0919

September 2011
. . .
And all that changed. Almost immediately upon arriving in Romania I felt the magic return. I spent almost a full week in the heart of the Carpathian mountain countryside, hiking tens of kilometers each day around the tiny village I was calling home. The change from city to country, and the fresh air with exercise helped give me my energy back, just in time for the final push to Istanbul. Istanbul as well was a city I loved, and made me realize how much I love Middle Eastern culture. The sounds of the “Call to Prayer” that wafts up from the mosques is one of the most beautiful sounds one can hear. And then, before I knew it, Europe was finished and I was on a Turkish Airways flight to Thailand. I landed in Bangkok completely terrified once again. But I quickly recovered. While I had landed in Thailand planning on, at some point, settling down near a beach for a month to do nothing, I ended up doing that in Bangkok. It was just such an easy place to base myself in. From the temples in the cities, to the easy of trips into the countryside, it was easy to spend my 30 day visa free stay there. And I did get to experience Thai island life when I spent a week on Koh Samet. Though I did end up developing swimmers ear too.

The Hagia Sofia in Istanbul, TurkeyIMG_2705

October 2011
With the 30 day visa free stay ending, I made the snap decision to take a flight off to Vietnam. I landed in Ho Chi Minh City and wandered around that city for a few days before purchasing a hop-on/hop-off bus ticket all the way to Hanoi. I stopped off in Nha Trang where I dived for a second time and then had money stolen from me on the beach. I visited Dalat but I was underwhelmed(and still annoyed at being robbed). I met the lovely Frank and Po on the bus to Hoi An and hooked up with them for the rest of the way north, stopping briefly in the beautiful little town of Hoi An, the imperial city of Hue, and finally in the capital of Hanoi where we took off into Ha Long Bay. The three of us only did the one day but when they both left Hanoi the next day, I immediately booked a second trip, three days, into the Bay. I did not regret it.

The Citadel in Hue, VietnamIMG_4505

November 2011
Going against all reason, I went off into the Sapa region of Vietnam. All evidence and suggestions told me that it was raining pretty much constantly there at this time. The rain gods were smiling on me though as the skies parted and I had nothing but sun for my entire journey. I met a number of wonderful ladies, both foreign and local,  on my treks there. And somehow I managed to do the entire trip up in Sapa without being pressured into buying a single item. Back in Hanoi, I met the beautiful Dumi but because of the cold I developed in Sapa, I couldn’t kiss him like I wanted. I headed back down south, stopping again in Hue to bike around to the Royal Tombs. Flying back into Ho Chi Minh City, I collected my affairs and booked to go into the Mekong Delta and finish off in Cambodia. The people I met on that trip would be with me for the remainder of the year, most notably Lucy, Janine, and Isabella. Near the end of the month, and at my 1 year anniversary, I met up with Val from Silly America and we explored Angkor Wat together. And got drunk together ever though both of us had no plans to.

Angkor Wat Ruins, CambodiaIMG_6729

December 2011
And we come full circle. December had me saying farewell to Val and meeting back up with Lucy and Janine. We all traveled into Laos together via the land border near the 4000 Islands where I became extremely lazy. When I finally get around to writing about Laos, you’ll see just how crazy laid back this entire country is. From the islands, a quick visit in Vientiane to work out my Thai visa was necessary. There I met a wonderful Korean man who showed me the, admittedly limited, gay scene in the Lao Capital. Somehow I managed to avoid the drunk tubing in Vang Vieng and instead focused on the adventure sports around the town. And then, for Christmas, Lucy, Janine and I met back up with Isabella in the beautiful city of Luang Prabang which was the perfect end to a wonderful visit to Lao. With a slow, two day boat ride and full day bus ride, we were back in Thailand in time for New Years Eve.

Monks collecting Alms in Luang Prabang, LaosIMG_8245

* * * * * *

So there you have it. One year and one month down. Only a few more months to go. The next little while will be here in Thailand with the plan to get my diving certificate while in the islands. Malaysia and Singapore will round out my Asian portion of the journey before I fly off to Australia and New Zealand to meet up with so many of the wonderful people I met along the journey.

2011 was the best year yet.


  1. Looks like 2011 was an amazing travel year for you. I hope 2012 brings more great adventures your way.

  2. Congrats on 365+, no doubt you still have many more adventures ahead of you.

    Me? I'm here at Lake Toba in Sumatra (highly recommended) - just a week to go before I head back to Vietnam and settle down for a spell as an expat.

    Wishing you safe travels and bountiful adventures in 2012!

  3. Thanks you two!

    Dyanne, I'm very very jealous of you right now!