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I have been slacking a little on the updates. Probably because this blog was a way for my family who doesn’t have Facebook to see all my pictures of my trip and so far, I’ve managed to show most of my family pictures. However, I did promise myself I’d keep updating this so I have a well-rounded journal on my trip. So here goes!

I last left off in the middle of New Zealand so I’ll continue with that! One of my most favourite things of my entire trip was the Franz Josef glacier hike. It was unbelievable. This is a glacier that sits right next to a tropical rainforest and is one of three in the world to do so. The other one is about 5km down the road from it and the third is in …Brazil? I believe.

The glacier itself is about 12km long, running up a gorge. Of course, it has, in the many thousands of years it’s been there, been the one to carve out this valley. It has, at some points, been as long as 15km. Every year it gets about 80 feet of precipitation falling on it, which is quite a lot. So much so in fact that the average time it takes the ice to move from the top of the glacier to the end is only an 8-year cycle. That’s pretty fast for a glacier.

With the Franz Josef glacier, you can choose from 3 hikes. One is an hour hike, one is a half-day hike and the other is a full day. Of course, everyone wants to do the full day hike. So it’s important to book ahead, weary travelers! Luckily, because we traveled with Kiwi Experience, they have a certain number of spots set aside so we only need to decide the day before whether we want to do it or not. But anyone not traveling with a tour, I would recommend booking your tour as early as possible to guarantee spots.

The full day hike is an 8 hour event. Now, only about 6 of those hours is spent on the actual glacier but it still seems like a long time to be standing on ice. Fear not, it goes by quickly! In the morning, you get a quick little video of the hike and the rules, then get your gear. Not sure if I mentioned it but you get hat, gloves, coat, pants, boots and crampons (the little metal that goes on the bottom of your boots so you don’t go flying on the ice). All you need to provide are non-jean pants or shorts and 3-4 layers on top. You should be good to go then!

Our guide’s name was Jason. He was very …interesting. Young – only 18 so I’m pretty sure he was the youngest of our group! He enjoyed telling dead baby jokes, which I was very amused about. But he was good at his job and made sure we were all safe. There are ‘features’ – as they call them – on the glacier that the guides like to wind the group’s way up to and around. These features only last a week or two, on average, before they fall or melt away which means if your friends do it at another point in time, they will most likely see the glacier from a different viewpoint than you. It’s neat.

Anyway, enough ramble about the hike. I highly, highly recommend it. It honestly was one of the best things I did in the 6 months I was away. It’s a little expensive ($100 or $150 NZD I believe) but definitely worth every penny. Onto the pictures!

Also, I promised my friend I’d do a shout-out on a blog for him. He’s never had one before! But I can’t mention his name so I’ll just call him Hockey Boy. Hey, Hockey Boy! SHOUT OUT!

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So I’m finally back in my home country. Yes, my REAL trip will be officially done April 1st, 2009 (or does it?! Maybe it’s all a joke!) when I land in Toronto and begin my life anew.

It’s been a great trip and I still have SO much to catch up on in this blog (seriously, I am still in New Zealand in my head on this blog, soooo about 2 months behind). But in the meantime I thought I would update with my Favourite Travel Picture of the week, which is definitely going to rank up there as my all-time favourite picture, due to pure sappiness. You have been warned.

Coming home

D’awwwwww. I arrived in Vancouver Airport (GREAT airport by the way, liked it just as much as the San Francisco airport!) to my Aunt and Grandma holding this sign up for me. Probably the best way ever to come home. It was super cute and put a smile on my face. Thanks you two! ❤

More updates coming soon, I promise…

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So it’s our last day in Australia! TEAR! In true backpacker fashion, I’ve had far too little sleep, may still be a little drunk and I’m heading to the airport in about 3 hours.

Yesterday I spent most of the day hanging out with my good (Australian!) friend, Ben. It was great to see him again but very sad. Hopefully he and I will cross paths in Europe in 2010 when I hopefully head out to Amsterdam and either Dublin, Norway, or London. Already planning the next trip, ay? Sounds like a traveler has been born.

Here is a video we made while waiting for my train to take me back into the city from Bondi Junction.

Next stop: Fiji! We will be staying there for 5 days, then heading to San Francisco (via LA). I’m looking forward to both! From there, Kelly and I split up! I head off to Vancouver to visit some friends and family while she heads to Calgary to go skiing in Fernie.

Our grand adventure is coming to an end however, I am most likely going to continue to update this blog for some time with pictures and the mass amount of videos I have. I can’t decide if that makes me pathetic or just normal? Readers?

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So this post may be a little loopy. Sorry about it but I haven’t slept since 6am yesterday morning, Thailand time. So that would make it…. more than 26 hours since I’ve slept. Oh boy. Brace yourselves.

Yesterday, we woke up early and Kelly’s aunt, Kim (who is lovely and it’s a shame we only met her the last couple days of our Thailand trip – even though we were staying in her condo every time we were in Bangkok) took us to the Jim Thompson Teak House in Bangkok. It was one of the things on the list I hadn’t yet done so that was really nice. Aunt Jan, you were right – the place was like an oasis admists the bustle, noise and pollution of Bangkok. It was nice to step away from that for just a little bit.

Then we got some food on the street (so good!) and went back to pack and head out. Poor Kelly got food poisoning in Koh Chang (I got to watch some pretty spectacular projectile vomiting, let me tell you!) and so she hasn’t been 100% since. So I don’t think the flight was too kind on her – though at least she managed to get a couple hours of sleep. I didn’t get any, sadly but I did watch a lot of good TV shows and films! Woo! (Love British Airways, by the way. Good food, good entertainment. I think Kelly and I’s favourite part though is the man who says, “Cheerio!” as we leave the plane. I realize that may seem silly but then again, what do you expect from us? Cheerio!)

So now we’re back in Sydney. Kelly is off on her last sail around Sydney Harbour and I am valiantly fighting my body’s rebellion due to lack of sleep. We’ll see how long I last. (I’m betting on out by 3pm, right on the dot!)

So, we fly out on Monday for Fiji. Should be most excellent! I enjoyed my trip to Thailand and it was good for me to stretch my comfort zone to include countries that don’t speak English, French or Spanish. It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed trying to use my minimal Thai wherever I could. (Sa-wah-dii kha, khap kun kha, chai!, mai chai … that’s really all I have… haha.)

While we were there, we (in no specific order):

– Went to a lady boy show

– Went to the weekend market

– Did a LOT of shopping (got pretty good at haggling over a price on the calculator hehe)

– Saw the Jim Thompson house

– Did a 3 day/2 night jungle trek (our guide was SHORTER than me, which I know is hard to believe but it’s true! We followed a Thai midget around the jungle for 3 days ahaaaaa) which included elephant riding and bamboo rafting

– Went and did the beach/island scene at Koh Chang

– Saw Grand Palace and Wat Pho

– Did a Thai cooking class

– Learned that Thai men? Are the most awkward flirts ever! Seriously

– And basically had a good time! Ate a LOT of delicious, delicious food!

It was nice but I am glad to be back in Australia with normal toilets and English and that feeling of “home” – because Sydney definitely feels a little like home now. It’s nice. I will be very sad to leave.

I should probably go make sure I don’t die. Sa-Wah-Dii Kha for now!

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So for the next instalment of Favourite Travel Pictures by yours truly, I decided to go with this tuk tuk picture I took last week, as we headed back from the Chiang Mai night market (where we enjoyed delicious… English cuisine at the Red Stag – what? We were tired of Thai food) to our hotel.

Tuk tuk driving

I have developed a hate for flash photography so I decided to take one without which resulted in it being blurrier than it should have been. However, I like to think this only enhances the artistic quality of the picture. I may be the only one who feels that way, ha, but that’s OK by me. I feel it actually captures the hustle and bustle of the Thai streets much better than a still picture ever could and I’m sticking by my decision. :p

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I just love all the Engrish (engrish n.: Engrish can be simply defined as the humorous English mistakes that appear in Japanese advertising and product design. Often, not only in Japan, but all around the world [Source]) that we’ve been seeing here in Thailand.

Here are some of my absolute favourites!

Friced Rice

Cafe LATE

Justin is a bad man

You’re welcome. 😀

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So as I wind my way through part of the world, I’ve taken some pictures I really, really like. And I thought I’d like to share with you, my dear readers (grand total of 7 now, aha), my favourite ones every once in a while. I envision this kind of post continuing long past my return to Canada, so I think you can look forward to fresh new content for some time now. Holla!

Some may have been shown here before but some may not. It’s like a surprise with every post, hurray!

Franze Josef Feature

Decided to start with a picture from New Zealand because I feel bad I haven’t put up my awesome Franz Josef glacier hike pictures yet. So this is one of them. There are others because this was a kick-ass thing to do!

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