Tag Archives: British Columbia

My First Full Year As A Digital Nomad: 2014 In Pictures

photo by CC user 70626035@N00 on Flickr image credit: photo by CC user 70626035@N00 on Flickr

Well, we’re halfway through January, but with all the freelance work I’ve been bashing my way through, this year in review had to wait for awhile.  In many ways, 2014 was defined by the growth of my mobile business, which caused this blog to be neglected at times ( Mama’s been busy, but I still love you all … sorry!).

In true digital nomad fashion though, I managed to get in tons of travel between the ever frequent 12 hour work days (the less glamorous aspect of the trade), starting in Chiang Mai, Thailand on New Year’s Day and progressing through Malaysia, Indonesia, Canada, Mexico and Belize.

I’m currently writing this from Guatemala, which is where I traveled to on New Year’s Day, and looking back over the past year, it was another tumultuous ride. Let’s dive right into yet another 2014 in pictures post, shall we?

January

I began my year in Chiang Mai with one final month on my apartment lease, so I took the opportunity to get out and see parts of the city I hadn’t seen. One of those spots included Warorot Market, a multi-level traditional trading house with everything from hill tribe clothes to weird Thai-Chinese food.

It was at the outer stalls where I picked up the giant blanket and pillow for my bed back in November 2013 … paid 500 baht total (bedding in Thailand is expensive for some reason).

February

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February saw me take to the road again after four months of working to get my business plane off the runway, with the end goal being Bali.  Along the way though, I spent time in Krabi (the awesomeness of Railay Beach cannot be understated) and Koh Lanta before heading to Kuala Lumpur to catch a one-way flight to Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia.

In the days before my flight though, I had the chance to have a long-awaited reunion with Paul Phillip, a native Malaysian who I went to college with back in Canada from 1998 to 2003. Tiger beers were had, bowls of Hokkien Mee were greedily consumed, and stories exchanged. Can’t wait to hang out with my old buddy again (next winter maybe?)!

March

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Much of March was spent in Indonesia, but not in Bali.  The second half of February was when I explored that island paradise, leaving most of this month for me to make my way across the densely populated, volcano-studded island of Java.

This place sees a trickle of the foreign tourists that visit Bali, and in cities like Surabaya (pictured above), one can experience the real Indonesia, a place that is rough around the edges, but is still a profoundly rewarding place in which to travel.

April

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Arriving back in Canada in late March via British Columbia, I kicked off my time at home by exploring a corner of this gorgeous province that I had never explored before.  Vancouver Island turned out to be all that and more when it came to sublime beauty, with no place exemplifying this principle more than Tonquin Beach in Tofino.

May

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The rest of April was spent in Alberta catching up with friends and family, and skiing/hiking the slopes of Jasper before returning to the Greater Vancouver Area to take up my first housesit acquired through TrustedHouseSitters.

I spent three weeks caring for Cleo the Cat and Emma the Black Lab in the suburb of Surrey while cheering on my Habs through to the Eastern Conference Final. The arrangement had its challenges at times, but I find myself missing my furry roommates even as I type this.  When I get back to Canada, I will definitely be doing this again!

June

After completing my housesitting assignment ended, I began my eastward journey by checking out Whistler, then after another pet sitting date in Calgary finished up, I set out on an epic 54 hour bus ride to Toronto. You don’t want to know how smelly my feet were after that! 😛

Once I got rested up and showered, it just so happened that Toronto was hosting World Pride … camera in hand and ready for a fabulous time, I snagged an awesome spot on Yonge and watched the festivities unfold…

July

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July saw me finally get home after over two years away from Nova Scotia, and it was for a joyous occasion, as I attended the wedding of my little sister Meghan and her vertically endowed partner, Malcolm. Thanks again for two fun-filled days Meg, and congrats!

August

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Once the wedding was over, I spent a full month reconnecting with family back in the Scotia before I set out to continue my world adventures in Latin America.  On August the 21st, I landed in Mexico City, and had my intense fears surrounding the place shattered in a matter of hours.

Anybody with a modicum of street smarts and common sense will be fine here, and with a wealth of museums, fine architecture and modern attractions, nobody on a extended Mexican trip can afford to skip this place.  Set aside at least four days.

September

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While most of September was spent in balmy Puerto Vallarta, the photographic highlight of September occurred early in the month, as the mountainous colonial gem of Guanajuato stole my heart.  This was the first in a series of oustanding historic towns that I’ve seen on my Latin American journey that you all need to see with your own eyes … stay tuned for posts in the new year on these places!

October

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October was defined by a highly controversial story in Mexico where 43 student protesters (or normalistas) were rounded up my police in one of the poorer parts of the country and disappeared.

It came out later that they had been turned over to the cartels and subsequently murdered, touching off mass demonstrations across the nation, with this wall in San Cristobal de la Casas showing the signs of the public’s anger and discontent.

November

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I settled into Playa Del Carmen for most of November and into early December for both work and pleasure, with my parents joining me in one of Mexico’s best resort towns later in this month for some shared vacation time.

The highlight of our time together was our swim and trek through Rio Secreto, which was an enclosed cenote with some of the purest, most effervescent water I’ve ever seen. For those scared of organized tours, go ahead and give this one a go!

December

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The final month of 2014 had me blissing out in Belize, with my time split between Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker and San Ignacio.  The above pic comes from a breakfast cafe in CC, where the silky breezes of the Caribbean combined with the eye candy to give me a moment of solace in a year where there have been precious few.

Business is hard and can consume your life occasionally, but it beats not having control of your time, and better you get at running your own affairs, the more it becomes possible to do things that just aren’t possible in a 9-5 career.

Tentative plans for 2015

As far as my business is concerned, I have more freelance work than I can handle at times, so the emphasis will be on improving the quality of work that I accept going forward, and freeing time so that I can work on personal business projects that have been on the back burner in my brain for far too long.

I got an idea journal full of potential websites, products, and so forth just waiting to be acted on … I just have to clear enough slots on my dance card to give them the attention they need to take root and grow.

On the travel side of the coin, the goal is Ushuaia, Argentina.  The bottom of the world.  How or when I get there in 2015 is immaterial. If I can gaze towards Antarctica (the trip to the frozen continent will have to wait, as I don’t have $5,000 laying around at the moment) from the rocky shores of the bottom of the civilized world, standing astride with some penguin friends, my journey will be a complete success.

What are you up to in 2015? Tell us all about it below! 

The Wonders of Vancouver’s West Side

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While most that visit Vancouver hang out on the downtown peninsula, there is so more more to the city that they are missing out on.  Case in point: Vancouver’s West Side (not to be confused with the west end, which refers to the westerly portion of downtown that’s one of the most densely populated parts of Canada, or West Vancouver, which is the uber rich enclave on the North Shore near the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal).

This place is home to the ultra hip neighborhood of Kitsilano, two beaches where young Vancouverites go to see and be seen during the summer time, and the campus of UBC, where smart kids from across British Columbia, Canada, and the world come to further their studies.

Above all else though, the views and the surroundings of this part of town are truly out of this world…

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Walking along the shore of Burrard Inlet, a portion of land between the end of backyards of houses residing on Point Grey Road (of one Vancouver’s most elite addresses) and the ocean makes for a very scenic trail.

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While Kits and Jericho Beach are far more popular among the scenesters on the West side of Vancouver, no beach has the size and serenity that the Spanish Banks do. Located just before the UBC Endowment lands, there is no shortage of places to lay out a towel, play a game of beersbie with your friends, or just drink in the timeless view of the North Shore Mountains and ruminate how friggin lucky you are to live here (and if you don’t, you’re starting to work out in your head how you could make it so).

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Honestly, how can you go wrong with a view like this at any time of year?

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While summer and early Fall is an excellent time to be in Vancouver, I’ll heartily put in my vote for dropping by during mid Spring.  From Late April into May, cherry blossoms blow up all over the city, and with the streets of Kitsilano being lined with these beauties, your head will be swimming in a dream world of floral awesomeness.

The only proper way to head a day here into continue up the street from the waterfront to West 4th Ave and have a drink on one of many, many patios that exists there and nearby (Vancouver has such a competitive food and beverage industry that ridiculous deals exist everywhere here, so don’t be stingy … enjoy your time in this heartstoppingly beautiful place!

Ever been to Vancouver in the spring?  Love the west side of Van City and have an awesome recommendation for a place to eat and/or drink? Tell us all about it below!

Welcome To Foodie Paradise: A Day At Granville Island Market in Vancouver, Canada

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In addition to all the world renowned natural scenery that can be found all around the Greater Vancouver Area, another aspect that makes this modern metropolis attractive to people from all over Canada and the world is its food scene.  From restaurants (like the Indian place on Davie Street that is shown above), to public markets, the astounding variety of high quality cuisine and foodstuffs will blow the mind of even the most discerning foodie.

Of all the markets in Van City and area, the Granville Island Market is the most celebrated of them all.  From produce to cheeses, prepared food to fresh flowers, even casual tourists will find enough stuff here to make a trip to Granville Island worthwhile.

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To get here, either take a harbor hopper ferry across False Creek…

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Or drive in underneath the Granville Street bridge!

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All the best foodstuffs from farms across the Lower Mainland can be found here, including a bewildering array of cheeses…

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… the bounty of the sea, from shrimp to scallops…

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Maybe some fresh cut flowers for the missus, or that crush you’ve awkwardly eyeing up the past week or so?

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And no matter who you are, it’s hard to say no to some field fresh berries!

Overall, the food on display here is well worth it just to gawk at it, but come for the freshly prepared meals (sadly, not photographed on this site for some reason), and if you feel like cooking up a storm in the hostel kitchen, maybe you’ll get some ideas from here!

 

Vancouver: A Flagship City For The 21st Century

Coal Harbour "condo village" in Vancouver

If you have not been to Vancouver, it can be hard to place how modern and built up this city truly is.  Everybody has their preconceived notions surrounding Canada as a largely uninhabited wilderness with charming yet somewhat backwater-ish people.  So when you walk through a scene like the one shown above (just steps away from verdant Stanley Park), it can be a surreal experience.

Still not convinced?  Take a look inside the Vancouver I’ve grown to love, a city that is very much a flag bearer for 21st century urban living.

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Despite this cities’ reputation for modern structures, it does manage to work some historic structures into the mix with great effect.  The Vancouver Art Gallery is a place that plays host to some of the best visual art displays in Western Canada, and also is a popular gathering spot for events.  On this day, I was strolling by on 4/20 … purple haze indeed!

Vancouver Public Library

Even rudimentary institutions like the public library get designed ambitiously here.  Styled after the Roman Colosseum, the inside is as impressive as the outside facade, which goes to show that if you want to get treated like a major city on the world scene, you have to do major city things … like doing a potentially tacky reproduction of a famous ancient ruin and totally pulling it off!

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The tallest building in Vancouver is the Shangri-la Hotel at a dizzying 201 metres (659 feet) above the street … like, literally.  Try standing at the bottom and staring up at the square dots … you’ll feel your head spinning and your feet starting to give out before you know it! 🙂

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With innovative, groundbreaking designs, water features that force you to stop and take in their magnificence, and the lush surroundings made possible by its mild climate, Vancouver’s skyscrapers and urban design are something that any self-respecting urbanite should experience at some point in their lifetimes?

What modern wonders does your city contain?  Feel free to share them with us below!

Canada’s California: Palm Trees And More In Vancouver, BC

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Sitting on Canada’s west coast, the city of Vancouver, which sits at end of a low lying sliver of land in British Columbia’s southwest known as the Lower Mainland, experience considerably warmer weather than the rest of the nation as a whole.

Together with Vancouver Island and the North Coast, they are bubbles of mildness that endure through the vast majority of a harsh Canadian winter, with daytime highs averaging between 5 to 8 degrees Celsius (42 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit) at a time when the rest of Canada is in the deep freeze and buried under mounds of snow.

This temperate climate, combined with some of the best soil in the nation also allows a mind-boggling variety of plants to grow, and yes, as shown above, some of the hardiest palm trees in the world can indeed grow in Van City, lending the place more credence to its legendary status among weather-obsessed Canadians.

Here’s some more examples of horticultural brilliance that can be found in one of Canada’s best cities…

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With robust bushes of pink flowers and palm trees and a condo tower in the background, doesn’t this feel like Hawaii at first blush?  The water and the air might be a bit chillier, but use your imagination, people!

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Cherry trees are planted here in abundance and luckily for me, I was in town during blossom season.  Being in the mid to high teens Celsius (60’s in Fahrenheit) while Alberta continued to freeze also allowed the flower beds throughout public spaces like this one at the end of Davie and Denman to flourish in a truly spectacular fashion!

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Just a brilliant day to head to the beach, soak up the spring sun, and enjoy the beautiful bounty that such a horticultural and climatically rich part of the world has to offer to you.  Yes, Vancouver’s an expensive place to live or visit, but with surroundings like this, the pain is worth the struggle to experience what can only be described as Canada’s California! 🙂

Ever been to Vancouver, or any other freakishly warm place when the rest of your country was suffering in the cold?  Tell us all about it below!

In Motion: Vancouver’s True Nature (In 15 Seconds)

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In the weeks leading up to my departure to Korea this past Spring, I was as busy as a beaver, gathering together a collection of documents a mile long to qualify for my visa. All the while, my projected start date loomed on the horizon, adding urgency to the proceedings.

As such, I didn’t want to risk anything going wrong by sending my passport through the mail; placing my trust in Canada Post didn’t seem like the best idea with time running short.

Instead, I made the journey to Vancouver, passport in hand, to have my work visa processed in person. In the week it took to get a slip of paper in my passport saying that I could work legally in another country, I did a fair bit of exploring and hiking that allowed to uncover Vancouver’s true nature.

Below, for your enjoyment, is a Vine-esque summary of the beautiful nature that awaits you in the Greater Vancouver area…