Posts Tagged With: travel

Travel Bug Bites Again!

There is a reason why we picked Travel Bugs as our blog name. My husband and I both love to travel, have a quest for adventure and a lure to wander about. Sure we love home, and home will always have a special place in our hearts and a place we will return. In July, we hung up our passports and decided to settle back into the life at home. We planned on getting jobs, buying a house and setting down roots. We looked forward to reconnecting with family, friends and Canada. The transition for me was easy at first, although I missed friends and the adventure of life abroad. The reaction when people find out you lived in China never got old. I had just started to pick up some of the language and had a better understanding of those difficult tones. I found myself drawn to Chinese tourists and their joy as we spoke a word or two in Mandarin. My health was suffering there, so the move back to Canada was a little bitter-sweet. My husband also got a job back on this side of the world, so it was time to come home.

As you know we moved out to Calgary. Originally it was meant to be a few short weeks for me to come out. Hubby had a type of job where he could live anywhere and fly in and out, as he had before China. Many turns of events lead me to staying here. I looked forward to a new home, the mountains a short drive away and experiencing a new part of the country I call home. It wasn’t always easy though. Settling into a new city it is hard to find your way around, make friends and just feel connected. Living abroad we had the same issues, but in an international expat community where we all were experiencing the same things, so it bonds people and creates friendships. Here people have their circles of friends, and lives. Why let someone new in? It was lonely especially when hubby was working away from home and only had 1-2 days off a month. Another reason why I stayed here alone. If I was in Ontario I would have friends and family close, but how would I ever have time to see my husband? It was hard, but over time it has gotten easier.

Then the economy had started taking a down turn and the price of oil has dropped drastically. It is easy to fill up at the pumps, but in Alberta a province driven by oil it hurts. Many people lost their jobs and more cuts to come. Hubby’s hours started to get reduced. Then plans for future work put on hold as the oil industry tries to save money and skate through the unknown crisis. The uncertainty of steady work sent him searching jobs. No one was responding as they were overwhelmed with applicants. However, one company soon responded and a Skype interview ensued on my birthday weekend. Hubby got a new job. Full time. Paid overtime hours. Benefits. Awesome right? Well just wait for it. You will never believe where it is. The job just happens to be in the Cayman Islands! Where it is summer all year long. We thought one day we would move abroad again, but not this soon! It is away from home, but much closer than China. Only a 4 hour flight which, happens to be about the same distance from Calgary to home.

Cayman Islands from above as the plane comes in for a landing

Cayman Islands from above as the plane comes in for a landing

Hubby has been there just over a month and getting settled in. I would have loved to have gone with him straight away, but his work discouraged family to come until later. I also had just started working in November and hated to quit only a few short weeks later. It is better for me to look for work from home also, another reason to stay behind. Over the Easter break I will go and visit John and our new home. It will break up the time before he will come home and help move me down there. I can’t wait!

Who would have thought this could be my backyard?

Who would have thought this could be my backyard?

So soon the Canadian Travel Bugs will be expats once again and exploring a new part of the world. Stay tuned for our new travel adventures!

Categories: Canada, Expat Life, travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Reward -WP Photo Challenge

If you could have anything as a reward what would it be? Word Press asked us to show reward this week. The trick is showing a reward in a photo. Sure working out, a good grade, or accomplishing a difficult task is a great reward for hard work. My greatest reward, if I could have anything, is…. travel. A quiet beach with waves soothing and relaxing me, a new city to explore or a culture and different food to experience is such a reward for me.

Hong Kong -bright lights big city

Hong Kong – bright lights big city

 

A small section of the Great Wall.

A small section of the Great Wall.

 

Where's the Beach?

Where’s the Beach?

Mui Ne, Vietnam

Mui Ne, Vietnam

Luckily after long waits or hidden areas within the large temple maze I was able to get some incredible shots I was hoping for.

Luckily after long waits or hidden areas within the large temple maze I was able to get some incredible shots I was hoping for. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

 

What a view!

What a view! – Philippines

I have been very lucky to travel to so many places and reward myself 🙂 My reward is looking at all the stamps in my passport and photos I have taken. Enjoy sharing my reward.

How do you reward yourself?

 

Stay tuned…

 

Categories: Photography, travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Endurance -Achieve your goals & dreams

Part of being an expat has offered us a great opportunity to travel. The world became smaller. Things that most people dream of are just around the corner, in our backyard or a short trip away. We have been lucky enough to see the Great Wall of China. My first visit was with a tour group, so the time was limited. I wished to get up these steep steps, but managed barely half way before the time forced me back. My goal, if I ever returned, was to get further. I really wanted to reach the top of those steps and the end of the restored section of the wall where some of the great monument lay crumbling from countless footsteps and hundreds of years.

This past summer we were able to return. Here is the starting point around gate 13 at the Mutianyu section of the wall. Goal in sight we started off.

Just after the cable car the start of the wall... go as far as you dare.

Just after the cable car the start of the wall… go as far as you dare.

 

Around gate 19 or 20 we can see the steepest section ahead.

Warning steep climb ahead

Warning steep climb ahead

The top! The day was glorious with clear blue skies and we could see further in the distance than our last trip to the wall. The wall snaked and turned over the green hills into the distance. August can be quite hot and humid, but today was reasonable. Once we started the climb I was sweating quite a lot. My legs began to shake and I wasn’t sure if I could make it. I had just recovered from a bad virus that sapped all my energy and strength and I was still not 100%. Throw in a touch of jet lag and a busy travel schedule to top it off. Later I would discover I was sick again and in 2 days time the same or similar virus returned and I was in bed. I was determined. I stopped regularly and took in the view while I rested. I drank lots of water and pushed on.

Reward... a view like this!

Reward… a view like this!

Look at the rocks to the left then look at the first picture. That will give you perspective how FAR we went.

Look at the rocks to the left then look at the first picture. That will give you perspective how FAR we went.

My endurance paid off and I made it to the top of the steps and past the final gate #23 open to tourists. We went to 24, but just couldn’t make the next steep climb on unsecured steps to #25. Maybe next time. Sometimes it is best to leave some travel dreams ‘undone’ so you have the desire to return.

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We started at the star… gate13. We went right to the end of the map (left side) #24. Approx. 5km one way and hundreds of steps.

Have you ever pushed yourself even when your body and mind said “I can’t”? Tell me about it in the comment section, or join Word Press this week for their photo challenge Endurance.

Sorry I am still not into my regular routine and I post when I can. Please stay tuned…

 

Categories: Chinese Adventures, History, Photography, teaching overseas, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

BLACK’s Epic Adventure Photography Contest

Thanks to my new blog friends over at Travel Stained for tagging and inviting me to join in the Black’s Epic Adventure Photo Contest. Black’s is a shop from the UK that is sponsoring amateur photographers to submit photos in 4 different categories WILD, FAST, EPIC and PANORAMIC. There are prizes to be won including vouchers to use for travel. Who could pass up a free trip?

Without further ado here are my submissions.

FAST – this bird flew in fast as it was munching on various bugs one summer evening. The movement of the grasses and wheat are fast, but give the picture texture -don’t you think?

FAST moving bird and grasses

FAST moving bird and grasses

 

WILD – I love the colour in this photo. How is it wild? Well the wild flowers, grasses and 2 insects are all wild of course. Look carefully one of the critters are camouflaged.

WILD - grasses and flowers

WILD – grasses and flowers

 

EPIC – This could also be wild I suppose. I thought it would better fit epic since the grand scale of nature is taking over man-made structures at Angkor Wat , Cambodia which, is pretty EPIC.

EPIC - nature's power is epic as it reclaims man made structures

EPIC – nature’s power is epic as it reclaims man-made structures

 

PANORAMIC – Views along the Great Wall of China. On clear days the wall snaking along the mountain ridges goes on as far as the eye can see.

Panoramic views of the Great Wall in China

Panoramic views of the Great Wall in China

 

Hope you enjoyed my collection. Stay tuned for more posts and adventures.

Categories: Photography, travel | Tags: , , , , , , ,

People: Pixelventures Photo Challenge

This week’s theme over at Bastet’s Pixelventures is PEOPLE. I have snapped some interesting pics of people here in Shanghai and when travelling around Asia. The hard part was narrowing it down to the most interesting and ones you hadn’t seen before. One of my favourite pictures of PEOPLE was posted here for Juxtaposition & Surprise back in January.

Monks at Angkor Wat

Monks at Angkor Wat

This first picture was taken on our trip to Cambodia. Inside the Angkor Wat complex you will often see Monks dressed in the bright orange. I decided to post this one because they were just like the rest of us tourists smiling at the photo they had just taken with their camera. It also shows a variety of other tourists who come from all over the world to see the Angkor Wat complex.

Picnic in the Park

Picnic in the Park

 

I have posted similar pics of this before, but this one is clearer and up close. When local Chinese go to a park they often take small tents to provide cover and shade. Sometimes the grass will be covered with tents and blankets. With so many living in apartments warm spring weekends often draw out everyone and they descend on the local parks.

 

Little Red Riding Hood is that you?

Little Red Riding Hood is that you?

 

OK I really am stumped with this one. A few times I have seen younger Shanghainese walking around dressed up like in costume. I am not sure if this is part of the Japanese phenomenon of dressing like animated characters or something else. Last spring we went to Shanghai Botanical Gardens and we ran into the lone girl dressed like Little Red Riding Hood basket and all. We did a double take and said   什么 (Shénme  – WHAT???)

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These last 2 are typical sites as the older way of moving things still lives on. Small electric trike bikes or bikes with a trailer are often piled high with recycled material, small animals in crates, large bottles of water or other things to be sold. The first bike is either someone moving items, or old broken and unwanted items being collected. The second one has a pile of wood with the wife along for the ride. When we first arrived some of these piles would be well over 5 feet high. Now the police crack down on these unsafe heights.

These are my example of people. Check out Bastet’s Pixelventures for more examples.

Hit the OLDER POST button to see some examples of Letters and PEOPLE from yesterday’s post.

Stay Tuned…

Categories: Chinese Adventures, Culture, Photography, strange adventures, teaching overseas, Tourist in My Own Town, travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Time Fries in Hong Kong

Time Flies when you are having fun, as the saying goes. Well in Hong Kong it seems Time Fries 😉 It seems someone who thinks up the names of shops and restaurants in Hong Kong has a sense of humour.One such place is a restaurant we were invited to breakfast to called the Flying Pan. It was explained it is FLYING instead of FRYING since the Chinese have trouble pronouncing R sounds as much as we have trouble with the tones and subtleties of Chinese.

 

20140402_094127A few other silly names we have heard about were the Lee Key Boot Shop, Kung Fu Shoes, Hip Wo Housewares, Woo Ping Optical. The best one is from Jo on word press who shared the Fook Hing Book Shop. All these shops are real places and sell real things! The last one, the Book Shop has recently closed or moved. We found the address, but it is now a mattress shop. After having the hotel staff call the phone number and look it up in a local directory we figured it closed or moved within the last year. The phone number was still active, but needed a password to continue. If anyone has come across it again please let us know 😉 As I said someone must have a sense of humour, is very clever, or does not think about the translation.

On our last day in Hong Kong we headed down to Wan Chai Metro stop. From the metro we turned left and walked a 20140402_095450block or two before we came to this restaurant. It was tricky to find since it is on the 3rd or 4th floor and the sign was covered by trees. The entrance is into an office or apartment building, so it was easy to miss from street level. Luckily John’s friend waited for us on street level and lead the way. Inside we found a spacious restaurant in a 50’s style soda shop. Comfy couches on one sie and booths and tables on the other. Black and white floor tiles gave me the impression it was like the dinners of long ago.

 

Being a week day the place was not too crowded and service was pretty good. Weekends and later in the day we heard it would be crowded. Prices were reasonable and options for large English and Western style breakfasts adorned the menu. For many of the plates you could ‘build your own’. The sides were all listed on the bottom of the page and you could pick what you wanted to best compliment your meal. 20140402_092451Choices of breads went beyond your traditional white or brown toast to croissants, English muffins or pancakes. The side dishes were also different with healthy fruits, cinnamon apples, to more traditional tomato and potatoes. It was nice to have so many options.

 

The food came and loaded the plate. I had a delicious omelette with the sides of fruit and cinnamon apples. John’s friend had poached eggs, side of fruit and tomato. John had a big breakfast with fruit and potato. It filled us up and was delicious. Juice is included in the meal, or for an additional 20 HK$ (I think) you could have a bottomless cup of coffee. The atmosphere and food were just like home. Being away for so long sometimes it is just nice to have something familiar. Not to mention the unappealing breakfasts that was included in our hotel package. After 2 days of that this was a nice and welcome treat.

 

 

The Flying Pan was a little hidden gem that I am sure we will seek out again if we return to Hong Kong.

What is your favourite place for breakfast?

Stay tuned…

Categories: travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , ,

Soggy Sights in Hong Kong

Our spring break came before the Chinese and Easter holidays and last minute plans brought us to Hong Kong for 4 days. The price was right, so we decided to go find warmer temperatures, do some shopping and see a few more sights. Checking the weather forecast the days before we were to leave I was disappointed to see rain, rain and more rain forecasted. Thinking things would change closer to the departure I remained optimistic. The day before we left the weather reported only a chance of afternoon thunder showers and I felt relieved. However, I did pack my umbrella and raincoat at the last minute just in case. This may have jinxed the trip, or the weather report was toying with us to think we could get away with rain free days.

Sunday March 31st we departed Shanghai only slightly behind schedule. Landing in Hong Kong we immediately noticed the dark skies threatening rain. We made it to the hotel and out to dinner without incident. The skies remained dark. The air was thick and humid. We returned to the hotel room deciding what to do next when we heard this unusual noise. Looking out the window we saw heavy rain that sometimes was going sideways. The sound of the rain was soothing and with the windows open and fresh breeze filling the room it quickly lulled me to sleep. Not long after flashes of lighting and loud thunder roared. It continued all night waking us on occasion. The next morning the rain continued to come down. I wondered how it was possible for so much moisture to come out of those clouds. Maybe we should have built an ark!

Umbrella veding machine in Hong Kong Metro station... almost sold out!

Umbrella vending machine in Hong Kong Metro station… almost sold out!

We decided to head out and get out of our small almost claustrophobic size hotel room. Within seconds we were soaked despite the umbrella and rain coat. My feet were squishy and squeaking with every step as water lined the streets and keeping dry was an impossible task. We ran into a small home/ hardware type store that sold a variety of household items and gadgets. For 10 HK$ (about $1.43 CDN) I found a lovely raincoat that would be large enough to cover my poor leather purse and camera. It was also a little longer than the one I had, so more of me would be dry. However, I felt like I was wearing a plastic trash bag; how unfashionable, especially in Hong Kong. I looked like a drowned rat in plastic wrap and despite the rain locals looked cool and calm with their waterproof shoes and more fashionable trench coats. Oh well we decided the rain wasn’t going to spoil our vacation since our time was limited.

Luckily and we tramped around overhangs from buildings and some covered walkways protected us in some places, although the damage had already been done. We were still wet. We wandered a large mall at Time’s Square and bought some great new Samsung phones cheap, which just happened to be on sale, SCORE! so all was not lost. John was happy to find Pizza Express which served good thin crust pizza.

 

 

Rain rain go away... Heavy downpour along Hong Kong Street in Mong Kok

Rain rain go away… Heavy downpour along Hong Kong Street in Mong Kok

 

I knew the rain was bad and it continued until mid day. With a short break that was short lived it started again. It wasn’t until now as I researched things did I know HOW bad the weather was. Here are some of the stats I found from Bloomburg and The Guardian press on-line:

  •  March 31st there was 40mm of rain
  • In some parts of Hong Kong there was hail, only the 39th time this has occurred in the city
  • hail was golf ball to fist size
  • 245 flights were affected, some 200 delayed, while others were cancelled or diverted
  • there was flooding in some areas where water reached up to waist height! People were swimming to get around -or out.
  • there were 3000 lightning strikes reported in 1 hour with 8000 in total

Hong Kong terms this kind of storm “Black Rain” which means 7+cm of rain can fall in 1 hour. We were lucky we missed this coming in, but wandered out in it the next morning not realizing how bad it could be. The rain ended up lasting the entire time we were in Hong Kong and it didn’t let up for days after. The rain lasted 1 week in total! It started Sunday and the following Saturday it stopped. Now we did have a few hours each day rain free and the heavy rain luckily started JUST after we returned to our hotel. The day we left we were not as lucky and it rained quite hard for a few hours. A quick dash to the metro kept us dry. Our flight was ready to go when it began again and with only 1 hour delay we were able to take off. Luckily we were already on the tarmac and in the que, or I am sure the delay could have been longer. With so many trips and vacations in my life the last 2 seemed to have had the trickiest weather. Hopefully that  is it for a while.

Stay tuned…

 

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

Misty Threshold of Inspiration

What is a misty threshold of inspiration? For me it is a combination of 3 photo challenges 😉 Ailsa has asked for something MISTY while Word Press asked for a THRESHOLD and Bastet asked for INSPIRATION.

Going through my pics from our recent short trip to Hong Kong I thought this photo fit the bill for all 3. Our short trip was saturated by heavy down pours. Luckily we got in before the storm, so our flight was not diverted, delayed  or cancelled. Each day we would arrive inside JUST before the skies really opened up. Umbrella’s and rain coats were unfashionable, but kept us mostly dry. The day we left heavy rains left everything misty over the hills. As Ailsa says fog and mist are mysterious and I thought this was be good inspiration for someone to write a short story or poem. Bastet wanted a photo to help inspire someone to write and hopefully this will get some creative juices flowing.

Misty Hong Kong

Misty Hong Kong

WP’s theme of threshold was described as something that can show change or a beginning. Travel is just that for me. Stepping away from the comforts of home and going somewhere new is exciting. I love the opportunity that travel provides… allowing you to see and do new things, meet new people, experience new foods, sites, smells and learn about different ways of life. My first solo trip opened so many doors for me and without that opportunity I may not have ever taken the chance to move half way around the world. It was a big step… challenging, exciting and scary. Crossing over that threshold has been many fantastic adventures.

The Ultimate threshold -flight

The Ultimate threshold – flight

What big step have you taken in life?

Stay tuned…

Categories: travel, Uncategorized, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Time Temptation

With a view like this doesn’t it tempt you to jump on the next plane and say forget work… ? The beach is a place where time stands still. I don’t need a watch or worry about where to be. I can just soak up the sun, swim  in the sea and revel and relax.

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I wish I could go back in time and enjoy the sunny carefree days when we were in the Philippines just a month ago. As we enter our busy season at work I long for more time

This is my response to Where’s My Backback theme Temptation and Baset’s Pixleventures Time. Click on their links to see more.

Stay tuned…

Categories: Photography, travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Proud Treasures: Photo Challenges

This week word press has asked us to show a treasure; something special and dear to our heart. Maybe it is a simple item and others would  think of it as meaningless, but to yourself it is priceless. Bastet has asked us to show photos we like and are especially proud of the way they turned out. To me my photos are treasures that showcase my world travels and bring back memories of places, people and events. Each is special and unique. To have had the opportunity to travel, especially so much in the last 4 years, that has been a wonderful gift. To be able to see places most  people have only heard about, seen in books, or on TV is amazing. I will treasure my photos long after we leave. These below are some I am most proud of and one day they may grace the walls of our home.

I have loved taking photos for a long time and I am trying hard to learn more. Someone once told me look for the shot no one else will have. Although I find a good photo sometimes is a lucky shot, a fleeting moment you happen to capture, a chance encounter that you might be in the right place at the right time, or when all elements just come together. Other times it takes  a careful eye and planning. The following are the shots I am most proud of. Enjoy my treasures….

Intricate carvings

Intricate carvings – Angkor Wat. The lighting was perfect for this capture of the bas reliefs along the temple walls.

I love this photo. It caught my breath and I almost couldn’t believe it was I who took it. Cambodia was an amazing place and this photo was my favourite from Angkor Wat. Everything came together perfectly.

Speaking of lighting be just right…..

Sun or Heavenly Rays in St. Peter's Basilica?

Rome, Italy – Sun or Heavenly Rays in St. Peter’s Basilica?

I saw the sun rays and hoped it turned out. It was much later I realised how this looked and I was really happy with the result.

This next one reminded me of an eerie old B&W film. The sepia tones in the hazy, humid sky after an earlier downpour played with the lights. Everyone takes the horizontal shot of the parliament buildings, so I looked for an alternate angle. I was happy how it was different and the atmosphere and feeling it has.

The Peace Tower at Night

The Peace Tower at Night

I liked the shadows of the palms to frame the view we had on the beach while we were in the Philippines. More than just another shot of the beautiful blue water.

What a view!

What a view!

I also took this shot in the Philippines. I kept moving around to get the right angle, light and detail I wanted. I am really happy with the result. I like how the palm is in the background to give it an extra dimension. It is my new favourite. What do you think?

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What do you treasure? What photo are you most happy with? Check out the links above to see more posts, or find out how post your own.  No photos? Then tell us about it in the comment section below.

Like this blog? Want to help me move onto round two of the Canadian Blog Awards? Then please click on the Canadian Blog Awards 2013 picture/button on the right sidebar to take you to the webpage if you would like to vote. Round one closes Feb. 21. I am Canadian Travel Bugs in the Travel and Expat category. CAREFUL you only get 1 vote! Not sure what it is all about? Then read my post that explains in more detail here.

Thanks in advance. 🙂

Stay tuned…

Categories: Awards, Photography, travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,