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LOMBOK, INDONESIA

From my disaster in the village of Tetebatu, to the wonderful resort area of Senggigi.

sunny 40 °C

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I am about to tell you about the worst hotel I have ever stayed in! Ironically I can't remember the name of it, nor did I write it down in my journal, lol! Its located in the little village of Tetebatu, on the island of Lombok (the island next to Bali). Upon arriving the hotel looks nice (pictured above). Cute little cottages overlooking rice fields & Mt Rinjani. What could go wrong, right?
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So like I said, it looked great upon arriving, so I immediately booked myself in for 3 nights. That was was first mistake. Then I went for supper at the hotel's restaurant. Turns out the front desk clerk who is also the bell boy, is also the waiter ... and would be my guide the following day, lol! After supper I headed back to my room for a hot shower. In addition to a nice, hot shower at the end of a long day, I also need wifi (I travel solo and my mom fears for my life when I'm gone, so she demands to hear from me daily or else assumes I've been kidnapped or am dead), and free breakfast in the morning. I already gave up the wifi upon checking into this hotel (the entire village is without internet - so this is a good place to come and relax and get away from the world), and I discovered they had lied about the hot water! It was FREEZING cold!! I cant do cold showers, I just cant! How's a girl supposed to shave when she's shivering and covered in goose bumps?! Later on as I'm laying in bed writing in my journal I noticed big turds on the floor! At first I thought it was a bug, so I flicked it away, only for it to stick to my finger!!! OMG! Then I started noticing those little turds everywhere in my room. What on earth is living in here??!! Was is a mouse? A rat? A gecko? I had no idea! I continue writing, trying not to think about what could possibly be living in my room, when a GIANT moth starts fluttering around my lamp! And by giant, I mean like the size of a bird! I am deathly afraid of moths, and grasshoppers, frogs ... basically anything that jumps at me. I know moths are harmless, but I cant help but freak out! Since I'm traveling solo, I have to deal with this intruder on my own. I grab a flip flop and smack that bastard to death! But now I have a giant moth carcass smeared across my wall, and I know the Indonesian ant army will appear in no time, so I have to clean that hot mess up! Puke. Once again I go back to writing. Now I notice that the toilet is making a noise. So I get up to go check it out, I flick on the bathroom light, and freeze! There, on the shower wall, is the biggest !@%#!! spider I've ever seen in my life! Open your hand ... Its THAT big! (the next day I saw the same kind of spider thats now in my shower and took this photo below)
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Just the body was the length & thickness of my thumb! Its legs were so long it had knees! If it has knees it can jump, right?! I think that spider and I stared at eachother forever, both not knowing what to do! I couldnt let him get away, deeper into my room, so I bent down to take off my flip flop, aka killing machine ... and it scurried across the wall and down the shower drain! Oh thank God! The shower had a bucket of water & a scoop to 'sponge bathe' yourself with, so I quickly moved that heavy bucket of water over top the drain so it couldnt get out! Giant moths, mysterious turds, AND a giant spider?! For real?! I cant even deal with this. I plop myself down on the toilet, head in hands, wondering how I'm gonna be able to get any sleep knowing all of what is in my room (Oh, did I mention there's holes all over my screened windows? Some are 'fixed' with bandaids, but others are still wide open for more giants moths to invade, along with malaria carrying misquitos), when what do my eyes see .... a freaking toad the size of my fist blocking my exit from the bathroom!!!!!!!!!
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HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO GET IT OUT???!!! I cant smack it with a flip flop or step on it, it would explode all over the place! And I dont want to get anywhere near it, for fear of it jumping at me and sticking to my leg!!!!!!!!!!!! So here I am, on a toilet with my pants down, and a toad blocking my way. I want to cry! I stared at is for so long, and it didnt move ... to the point of me thinking 'maybe its a ornamental door-stopper', cuz it was sitting in just the right place. No such luck. On closer inspection I saw his throat move. Was it sleeping? Do toads sleep with their eyes open? I pulled up my pants , and in one big leap, I jumped over & past the toad and into my bedroom. Phew! It's still not moving. I have come up with a plan: trap it under the water scoop, and use my umbrella as a shield in case it jumps at me. Take a moment and envision this: me with open umbrella in hand, defending myself from a stupid toad, little red scoop in the other hand, like I'm going to war ... with a toad. It was so ridiculous I nearly started laughing at myself. I hesitated over & over again, so worried that I'd miss and he'd jump past me into my bedroom ... then what would I do?! But I needn't worry, I somehow managed to capture it on my first try! OMG I did it! Yay me, lol! But as soon as I had it trapped, it started jumping and trying to make an escape. The water scoop wasnt heavy enough to hold him down! So I put a full 2L bottle of water on top of the scoop and that held it down. But all night long I heard it jumping and bonking its head. Over & over ... all night long. Sigh. Well I guess that explains the giant turds all over my room! Needless to say, I didnt sleep at all. I had my sheet wrapped around my head covering my ears cuz I was so afraid something would crawl into my ears while I slept and give birth. Blech!

Ok, new day. Breath. I awoke with a migraine. Probably from stress and lack of sleep. I went straight to the front desk and complained. The lack of english here is infuriating! They had NO idea what I was saying/asking/complaining about. And remember, I booked in & prepaid for THREE nights!!! After nearly an hour of trying to explain my self in different ways to make them understand, I think they finally got it. I wanted my money back. But they didnt want to give it. Seriously?! I work part time at a hotel in Canada, and if you are unhappy with your room, not only do you get a discount/refund, you get a voucher for a free night. Not in Indonesia. Ugh, lesson learnt. But I at least convinced them to transfer the $ I had paid towards the room, to a guided day hike and a hired car to take me to Senggigi.

Day hike commence. I was first taken through the rice fields and village.
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Rice
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Mt Rinjani in the distance - Indonesia's 2nd largest active volcano!
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Thats not 2 peaks ... its one giant volcano with a crater in the middle!
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This is how red hot chilis are grown
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My favorite part of the hot, sweaty hike that confirmed my lack of fitness, was seeing the locals go about their daily life. Whenever I've gone on an excursion to a village its seems very fake. Like they know tourists are coming, so they are putting on a show. Showing us how to do this, and how to make that. But this was real!
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The whole point of me signing up for this guided hike was to see Black Monkeys. I was expecting it to be like Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali ... monkeys absolutely everywhere. But that was not the case. These were actually wild monkeys, unlike the super tame ones in Bali. My guide had a machete and was hacking us a path through the trees! The problem with that was the monkeys could hear us coming from a mile away. We couldnt get anywhere near them. So after hours of hiking & hacking, all i got was one lousy photo.
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We emerged from the hot jungle at a dam just in time to see all the little kids getting out from school and racing over to said dam, strip down to their birthday suits, and jump in the water, lol!
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Then we headed over to my guide's brother's house for a home cooked meal of chicken, eggs, noodles, rice, veggies, and tempe. These are his boys.
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After the meal he led me down a steep & slippery trail to a waterfall. As my guide nibbly leapt from rock to slippery rock, I blundered along like the uncoordinated fool I am. We came to a 'staircase' of slippery mud and wet bamboo that led through a bamboo forest, before finally arriving at the waterfall.
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After some time enjoyed here, I had to climb that same slippery 'staircase' back up. From there I was whisked away on a scooter back to the hotel. And from there I grabbed my backpack and said 'good riddance' to the worst hotel stay of my life, and got in a car headed to the resort area of Senggigi. I assumed my bad luck had ended. But no, it hadnt. About halfway we stopped for gas, so I bought myself some ice cream. The kind dipped in chocolate and on a stick. I attempted to eat it in the back seat of the car. But its so dang hot at the equator that ice cream melts faster than you can eat it. Chunks of the chocolate shell kept melting/falling off. And since the window was open (cuz the car had no a/c), the wind from driving fast caused the melting chocolate pieces to fall all over me! One fell on my shorts and melted on contact, making it look like I shit myself. Another hit my face and then slid down my chin and fell into my shirt, and continued to melt and slide into my bra. In the meantime I'm still holding my ice cream on a stick and its melting at an insane rate. I have melted ice cream to my elbows! At this point I look like a 2yr old trying to eat ice cream for the first time, LOL! My driver glanced at me in his rear view mirror and just burst out laughing! FML. We stopped somewhere so I could clean myself up & change, and then continued on our way.

The drive along the coast towards Senggigi is incredibly scenic! My driver was nice enough to stop half a dozen times so I could take photos.
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See, I told you! Its stunning isnt it?!
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My driver stopped and bought us a bag of lychee fruit still on the branch ... and full of ants. And all warm & gross from sitting in the sun. Fail.
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The inside of the fruit looks all fleshy & gross, but if you get a good one, they are quite tasty.
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If you dont have a trailer, just pile it on top & tie it on!
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I stayed at the Holiday Resort for the rest of my time on Lombok. It was 700,000 Rupiah compared to only 200,000 Rupiah for the dump last night, but SO worth it!
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It had a pool that didnt end. It just kept twisting & turning throughout the resort. It also had a jacuzzi area & a swim-up bar.
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Upon checking in I was given 2 vouchers for free 'Welcome Drinks'. So I went to redeem them at the pool bar and received Iced Melon Tea. The best invention ever!!!
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I ordered a 'hotdog' at the restaurant and got this thing.
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This resort was great! Clean, luxurious (or was it that I was used to staying in crappy hotels and just finally got a good one?), and beachfront.
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The sand was half white and half black! I've never seen a beach so completely divided 50/50 like that before!
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Here's the awesome view from my resort looking across the ocean to Bali's volcano!
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I went for a walk down the beach. Black sand is HOT people! HOT! Like it scalds the bottom of your feet! I came across this little beach restaurant. I was just gonna buy some cheap bottled water (only 3000 Rupiah here, opposed to 12,000 at the resort!), but ended up staying for supper and watching the sunset over Bali's volcano.
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Table in the sand :)
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For $3 I had this delicious plate of food (not sure why, but Indonesians place a fried egg on top of every meal), 2 bottles of water, and 1 can of Coke! Steal of a deal!
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Amazing sunset :)
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So Lombok started out horrible, but ended well ... thank goodness!

Posted by ChantelleS 17:46 Archived in Indonesia Tagged ocean wildlife beach indonesia monkey jungle waterfall terrace asia lombok Comments (1)

LAKE BRATAN, BALI - INDONESIA

Lakeside hotels with volcano views, temples on the lake, a waterfall, and many crazy creatures for me to hold!

sunny 25 °C

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Today started awesome, and ended of with a pervert. Allow me to start from the beginning ...
I woke up in Jatiluwih and took a taxi for 200,000 Rupiah (about $16) to Lake Bratan. It was a 1hr scenic drive through mountains/volcanoes, rice fields and villages. I checked in to a hotel called Ashram for one night, located on the side of a hill overlooking Lake Bratan, its temple, and volcano on the other side of the lake.

View of my hotel on the hill
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My little bungalow
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It was a fairly basic hotel for 200,000 Rupiah. It had hot water & free breakfast (although not a big selection), but no a/c. But it turns out I didnt need it. It gets chilly at night up in the mountains. I actually had to throw on linen pants, an extra shirt, and use the extra blanket off the 2nd bed to keep warm! Definitely wasnt expecting that at the equator! Normally Indonesia is like a oven, and I'm constantly covered in sweat, but today I didnt sweat at all while exploring. It was nice actually.

View from my room
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My favorite thing about this hotel was the gardens. Actually I dont think it was a garden, Bali is just covered in tropical flowers wherever you go!
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After walking around the garden for awhile, I headed to the temple on the lake. I could see it clearly from the hotel's vantage point on the hill overlooking the lake, so I didnt need directions, I just walked over there. It was only about a 10min walk along the lake to get there.

The temple's name is Pura Ulun Danu Bratan. Admission was 30,000 Rupiah ($2.50 Canadian). These were the entrance gates.
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The grounds were quite large, but not at all what I was expecting. There were giant plastic dragons, frogs, eagles, etc everywhere. It looked like a child's playground. I dont understand why these tacky, plastic things were everywhere, but if you can look past that, it was actually really beautiful.
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Steps tiled in tiny stone mosaics.
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There were colorful boats to rent lined up alongside the temple (and also tacky plastic swan paddle boats)
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Stupa
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And finally, the part of the temple that was on the lake.
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As I was heading back to the main gate to leave, I noticed an area with a bunch of animals. Real animals, not plastic ones. For $8 I could hold as many animals as I wanted, for as long as I wanted, and take as many photos as I wanted. Deal! First up was a Giant Fruit Bat! And by giant, I mean GIANT! I didnt know bats could get this big! LOOK AT IT! Once you agree to hold it, they dont give you any time to freak out or change your mind. They just tell you to put your hand a certain way, and suddenly BAM, your holding a giant bat!!
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He's even kinda cute. He has the face of a small dog.
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Then I held some absolutely adorable baby owls!!
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Then I held a Hornbill! I dont know what kind of hornbill it was because the guys didnt speak enough English to know its name. All I know is it was WAY bigger than the ones I saw in Africa! They covered my arm with something so the its claws wouldnt dig into me. This guy made me a little nervous, not gonna lie. Look at that footlong beak!! I was scared he'd stab my eyeballs out with it! But he didnt. Turns out he's not as scary as he looks ... he liked belly rubs, lol!
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The yellow bulge under his chin felt like a balloon.
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I was told to put my hand in its beak. I'm not sure why I did it, perhaps cuz the guy went first showing me it didnt hurt. It didnt hurt at all, just a little pinch.
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After spending about 1.5hrs at the temple and with the animals, I walked across the street to a restaurant for lunch (I cant remember the name of it). I was expecting it to be super expensive, considering it was located right across the street from a tourist attraction, was 3 stories high with lakeviews, and offered free wifi ... but it wasnt. For $3.35 I had crispy teryaki chicken, a huge pile of sticky rice, and a salad. Food here is SO cheap! I also had an iced hazelnut mocha for another $3. It was so tastey I ordered a 2nd one! Much better than anything at Starbucks ;)

So, next comes the pervert. I walked around negotiating rates for a ride to Gitgit Waterfall. I ended up choosing a guy (the wrong guy as it turns out) who offered to drive me there, wait for me, and then drive me back, for 140,000 Rupiah (about $11). As soon as we hit the road he was trying to hold my hand, or put his arm around me. I just removed his hand & shrugged his arm off of me and turnt away from him to look out the window and ignore him. He stopped the vehicle and I thought he was gonna leave me in the middle of nowhere cuz i rejected him. But instead he was stopping so I could take photos of a viewpoint over the lake.
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Then we got back in and continued on our way. Once again he started trying to hold my hand, and I kept pushing it away saying 'no' as firmly as I could. But he spoke 4 words of english, and apparently NO wasnt one of them. And of course I dont speak a word of Indonesian. Again I just turnt away to look out the window. He tapped me on the shoulder, so I looked, and with his hands he was making an absurd jerking off motion!!! Ugh! What does it take for this loser to take a hint?! I would've just made him stop and let me out, but we were literally in the middle of nowhere and there wasnt much traffic. I didnt want to end up stranded somewhere. So I did the only thing I could think of that would be universal in every language ... I gave him the finger. And he finally understood!! But he wasnt impressed. He then proceeded to drive with road rage along the twisty turny mountain roads at high speeds! Now I was scared for me life, as he was only using one hand to make these turn, while he smoked a cigarette with the other. Finally we arrived in a small town. I got out and slammed the door. I assumed he was going to either take off and leave me there, or actually wait for me while I walked down to the waterfall. But instead he led me all the way to the falls. But he was walking so fast he was practically running, I could barely keep up! I wanted to take a leisurely walk to the waterfall, enjoy the scenery, and take photos along the way. But wouldnt have any of it. Every few minutes he'd turn around and see that I was waaaay behind, and wave frantically for me to hurry up. It was a 20min fast paced walk amongst many, many souvenir vendors.
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When we finally arrived at Gitgit Waterfall, the cool mist from the falls was very welcome after that sweaty high speed race through the jungle. I gave him my camera to take a photo of me ... and then he was ready to leave. Really? I didnt just drive 30min dealing with your bullsh!t the whole way, race down to the waterfall, take one photo ... and then leave?!
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He was honestly SO mad at me, although he's the one that was the perv. After about 7min at the waterfall we raced back up to the parking lot, got in the vehicle, and drove like a crazy person all the way back to Lake Bratan in silence. What a waste of time that was, sigh. And then, get this, he DARED to ask for a tip!!! I flipped him the bird again and slammed the door! Good riddance. So like I said in the beginning, the morning was amazing, the afternoon not so much. Unfortunately I dont think theres anyway to avoid pervs. As a single woman traveling solo, you never know what you going to get when you get into a cab. I ended my day by purchasing some fresh strawberries from a street vendor and heading back to my room. Northern Bali is known for its strawberries, so make sure you try them, they were tasty. Well thats it for Lake Bratan, I left the next day. That guy ruined it for me. Jerk. My next post I will be in southern Bali :)

Posted by ChantelleS 14:03 Archived in Indonesia Tagged boat bali wildlife indonesia temple lake waterfall animal asia båt owl Comments (0)

HUATULCO, MEXCIO

January 21-28, 2014 Waterfalls, iguanas & butterflies, and a stunning sunrise!

sunny 37 °C

My first trip of 2014 was to Huatulco, Mexico. I was hired to photograph a Destination Wedding there :) The bride & groom put me up at the amazing Dreams Huatulco Resort. As I was going through my photos to select ones for this blog post, I realized I didnt actually take that many of the resort itself, but this was my room. large_IMG_4893-001.jpg

View from the beach bar :)
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One of 6 pools (3 of which were infinity pools).
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The resort was located on Tangolunda Bay, one of nine bays in Huatulco.
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I went for a walk to the other end of the beach where there was a pier (above photos), lots of birds fishing, local fisherman, and loads of tropical flowers/plants.
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I only had 2 days of 'work' while there, one day to shoot the wedding, and a second day to do more family photos, otherwise the rest of the days were mine to do as I wanted. So one day I headed to the Yee-lo-bee Butterfly Farm. I just took a taxi and paid the entrance fee once there. Taxi & admission was around $30. Much cheaper than the $80 the resort wanted for a tour! I met 3 Canadians ladies there, and we toured the place together, then stopped for freshed squeezed lemonade afterwards :)
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The 'farm' is a giant greenhouse dome filled with tropical plants and 100s, if not 1000s of butterflies! I think I spent about 1hr in there, trying to photograph each kind of butterfly. If your patient they will eventually land on you :)
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Caterpillar
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Also at the butterfly farm was an iguana hatchery! Bonus! They had Black Iguanas & Green Iguanas of various ages. They breed them here, then release them into the wild ... or so they say.
Black Iguana
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Green Iguana
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They asked if I wanted to hold them ... of course!
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The baby Green Iguanas were my favorite! So cute! They look like the little Giecko gecko from the commercials, lol!
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Colorful bougainvillea were everywhere!
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There was also a pond area at the butterfly farm with these odd looking ducks.
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After a few lemonades, I hopped back in my cab, which had waited for me, and headed back to the resort. Its really only a 10min drive or so, so dont let a cabbie charge you a ton of money! So on the drive back my cabbie decided to hit on me. First he asked if I liked Huatulco. I said yes. Then he asked if I'd like to move here. I saw where this was going right away, lol! This isnt my first time out of the country, I'm no fool. So I answered him with a big NO. But that didnt deter him. He then asked if I liked dancing. NO. He still proceded to ask if I wanted to go to a disco with him that night. No deal. And then finally he asked if I'd like to go to a nude beach with him! Hahahahaaaa, no thank you greasey Mexican, no thank you!!
Back safely at the resort I enjoyed a beautiful sunset.
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The next day I took a stroll through town and found a little spa and got a 1/2hr massage for a fraction of the cost of one at the resort's spa. I also came across a local tour agency offering all the same excursions that the resort was. I booked a tour to a waterfall. Resort's price ... $85. Local agency price ... $40! If you've never been on an all-inclusive vacation before, my #1 tip would be to never ever book excursions through your resort. Just walk across the street to a local agency and get the same tour for half the price. Literally. Resorts always tell you that the local places will rip you off. Not so. I use local agencies wherever I travel. Its the big resorts that are ripping people off!
The drive to the waterfall, however, is brutal! Long, potholes, twisty & turny, up & down! If you get motion sickness easily, take Gravol beforehand, and try to sit in front of you can.
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The walk from the parking lot to the falls is easy, but theres is 2 sets of steep stairs.
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But the walk back was a different route along the river with no steep stairs.
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The waterfall is named Cascada Magica. It has many tiers, a rope swing, and shallow areas for safe swimming. But my favorite part was that there were only 5 other people there!
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After a few hours at the falls, lunch was at a coffee plantation. I'm not one for trying new food, but I did try fried cactus (yuck), and hibiscus juice (yum). They actually put the flowers in water. Let it sit overnight. Then drain the water out & add sugar. It tastes a bit like fruit punch, but not as sweet.
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On the last day I got up at the butt crack of dawn to watch the sunrise. The sun doesnt rise at my beach, so I hitched a ride with the front desk girl's surfer boyfriend to a place called La Bocana.
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The sunrise was the best I've ever seen!
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There was a little pond/pool of water where the river ended with a perfect little boat with peeling turqoise paint floating on it. It was just screaming for a photoshoot ;)
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Silhouetted heron
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After taking more than enough photos of the little boat, I walked across the beach to the ocean where there was a giant piece of driftwood covered in birds sunning themselves as the sun came up.
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I was the only one on this beach, other than the friend that came with me, and a local surfer girl.
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2 birdies gossiping
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So many birds!!
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I took a walk to the far end of the beach where there was a massive flock of American Black Vultures. No one else was on this beach, just me & the vultures! In that moment I forgot I was in one of the most touristy countries in the world!
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I walked very slowly amongst the vultures. They didnt fly away, not even one.
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But they all had their beady little eyes on me! Every time I took a step they'd turn their heads collectively as one, and stare at me. I'd stand still and wait for them to go back to feeding, then take another step ... and they'd all turn & look at me again.
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They were busy feeding on a stingray carcass.
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Not gonna lie, I was nervous that'd they'd attack me. But they didnt. One thing I learnt in Africa is to give wildlife space, move slowly, and they'll mind their own business.
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Cute little hut on the beach.
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After 6hrs at this awesome beach, I had no choice but to head back to my resort. It was time to checkout and head to the airport :( But not before I found a cute little parrot!
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Thats it for Mexico. Next up will be Indonesia :)

Posted by ChantelleS 12:00 Archived in Mexico Tagged wildlife beach mexico bird waterfall iguana animal butterfly Comments (0)

BLYDE RIVER CANYON, SOUTH AFRICA

Spectacular views, tons of waterfalls, and another thing crossed off my bucket list.

sunny 25 °C

So many people who travel to South Africa only go to see Kruger National Park. They bypass the incredible Blyde River Canyon, not even knowing its there! It is the world's 3rd largest canyon, but the world's largest green canyon! So how do people not know its there? Well if you fly from Johannesburg to Kruger, you'll probably fly right over it, and if you drive, you don't see it unless you take the panorama route. I thoroughly research every country I travel to, so that I dont miss out on things like this!
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If you're already headed to Kruger NP, the canyon isnt out of your way at all, so you may as well spend a day stopping at the many viewpoints, walking the trails, see the waterfalls, etc. You wont regret it, I promise :)

So let me start from the beginning. I flew from Livingstone, Zambia to Johannesburg, South Africa. Upon landing I had 4hrs to waste before the bus to Nelspruit departed. I had pre-booked a seat online for the CityBug bus. It was approximately $45, and took 3.5hrs to get there, with one stop along the way for a pee/snack break. The hwy was perfectly smooth, about 100 times better than Saskatchewan roads thats for sure! Upon arriving in Nelspruit it was late so I spent the night at Mecure Hotel for $43. Super nice, with tiled floors, fountains, room had kitchen, heat (cuz it was chilly at night), etc.

The following morning I took a taxi to my lodge near the town of Hazyview, the Hamilton Parks Country Lodge. The views along the way were stunning: green mountains, valleys, lakes, tall African pines, banana plantations, etc. It was a fantastic little lodge, located in the valley, away from the noise of the city.
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My room at the lodge.
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They even had some resident miniature ponies!
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The lodge had a pool and a peaceful grassy area, but sitting around doing nothing is not my thing, so I opted to follow a trail I found and came across some old ruins and beautiful views of the valley!
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The following day I went on a Panorama Tour of the canyon, booked through Bubezi Safaris. I was the only one on the tour, and at first was disappointed cuz I was hoping to meet some ppl. But within minutes realized being the only one meant we could stop wherever i wanted, and stay as long/short as I wanted. Quintin, my guide, was awesome! So easy to get along with, was also a photographer like myself so understood the patience required to get just the right shot, and gave me some helpful waterfall photography tips. The fact that he was cute and had the best accent ever had nothing to do with it, lol ;)

Our first stop along the canyon was The Pinnacle.
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There is also a waterfall at The Pinnacle if you follow the trail. It doesnt look like much in this photo, but trust me, I'm sitting on the edge of a cliff, and that river is plummeting to the ground right beside me!
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Then we stopped at a lookout point called God's Window
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Lisbon Falls
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Berlin Falls
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One of the more touristy stops was the Bourke's Luck Potholes. I think we showed up the same time as a few tour buses. I was quite glad to be the only one on my tour, rather than a bus load of old ppl, lol! This is the view of the canyon area along the trail to the potholes.
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Looking down at the potholes
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One of the bigger waterfalls at the Potholes
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Next up was my fave lookout point over the Three Rondavels ... rocky outcrops that resemble traditional African huts called rondavels.
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A short walk from there was this incredible view!!!!!!!
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We took a break and had lunch at a little restaurant. We had delicious toasties (known as paninis in Canada), and milkshakes. There was also souvenir shops set up at every viewpoint & waterfall.
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Next up we walked the trail to Lone Creek Falls.
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The mist from the falls was freezing cold!
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We also visited Mac Mac Falls, but I didnt get a very good photo worth posting. The lookout platform is at a weird angle. I wouldnt bother visiting this one if your limited for time.

Next up was our last stop, the beautiful Horse Shoe falls.
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Thats it for the beautiful Blyde River Canyon. My next 3 days were spent on safari in Kruger National Park, but that'll be in my next blog post.

Posted by ChantelleS 14:12 Archived in South Africa Tagged canyon river south waterfall africa Comments (1)

LIVINGSTONE, ZAMBIA

Livingstone, Victoria Falls, Lion Encounter, Elephant-back Safari, and Mosi-ao-Tunya National Park. April 2nd -7th, 2013

sunny 30 °C

I began my 3 week journey through Africa in Livingstone, Zambia. I stayed at the Chrismar Hotel for 5 nights. The hotel was fantastic. Free breakfast & wifi were included. There was a nice pool area with a swim-up bar.
My zebra-printed room
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The bathroom
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Outdoor breakfast area
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Pool area
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My hotel was only about a 10min drive to Africa's largest & most powerful waterfall ... Victoria Falls! It cost $20US for admission. I went alone, and felt completely safe. There were lots of tourists, and well marked paths. You cant get lost.
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There were raincoats to rent for $1US
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I didnt actually get wet though. There are definitely lookout spots where you can get soaked if thats what you want, but if you are like me and hate water and are carrying an expensive camera, there are ways to stay completey dry as well.
Just dont cross this bridge if you want to stay dry! Theres SO much mist its like being in a shower! It was actually too much mist, and blocked most of the waterfall. I was actually a tad disappointed cuz there really wasnt too much to see, except mist. Beyond this bridge is the falls, but you cant even see them :( The waterfall is 5604ft wide, but you really only see 1/8 of it.
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There was another bridge that spanned the gorge. People were bungee jumping from it. The left side is Zambia, and the right side is Zimbabwe.
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Even though it was spring time in Canada, it was autumn in Zambia :)
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People had told me there would be baboons everywhere, but I didnt see any for the first 2hrs. I remember thinking "I havent seen a single baboon yet!", and then I happened upon this one sleeping right on the path!! No sooner had I thought that, and a troop of baboons came out of the bushes all around me! They can be quite aggressive if you have food, so just keep all your snacks in your bag until you leave the area ... unless you wanna be mugged by a baboon, lol!
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Cheeky baboon :)
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Baboon chillin' on a bench. He wasnt moving. He owned this bench, lol!
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Afterwards I went to the Royal Livingstone Hotel for lunch. The views were beautiful of the Zambezi River, looking across to Zimbabwe. The mist in the background is where the river drops 354ft and becomes Victoria Falls! If you like fancy food & high prices, then its a nice place to stop for lunch. If not, dont bother stopping there as everything is over-priced!
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My next adventure was at Lion Encounter ... I walked with lions!! I booked the Lion Walk and an Elephant-back Safari as a pkg through Jollyboys for $263US. Expensive, but worth the experience! The price included pickup & dropoff at my hotel, and juice\coffee\tea & biscuits.
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Lion Encounter rehabilitates wounded and orphaned lions and eventually releases them back into the wild. Before the walk we were given a saftey\rules briefing. The lions arent tame, but they arent completely wild either. So everyone was given a stick, which was to be used as an extension of the arm. Not to hit the lions with, but to distract them with if they walk your way ... you just tap it on the ground in front of the lion and they swat at it instead of your face!
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The lions are free to roam around Mosi-ao-Tunya National Park. No cages. 5min of walking and we came across 3 lions. Two 1yr old cubs, and a young male not old enough to have a mane yet. The 2 young ones were so adorable to watch play and wrestle! One would bite his brother's tail, so then the brother would bite the other's ear, lol! And then they'd roll around wrestling.
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Sluuuurp!!
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There were 4 guides accompanying us ... one in front, one behind, and one on each side.
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Later the same day I went on the Elephant-back Safari.
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Me and my elephant, Mashumbi
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It was incredible standing face to face with such a massive animal!
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Giving Mashumbi treats
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The 'safari' was more just an elephant ride than an actual safari, cuz I only saw 1 giraffe veeeeeeeeeeeery far away. It was also incredibly uncomfortable \ border-line painful. Even though you sit on padding, after 15min your legs hurt from straddling a huge elephant, and your butt hurts, and you get a never-ending wedgie, lol! I wouldnt do it again because of that, but I'm very glad I did do it. How many times do you get to ride an African Elephant?! After the ride Mashumbi knelt down for me to sit on her knee. I was to get my photo taken, and then feed her treats, but she was impatient and wanted her treats right away. Heres a photo of her trying to get her trunk into my treat bag, and me peeking over her trunk for my photo op, lol!
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And then ducking under for another photo! This is my fave photo from the day :)
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My last day in Zambia I had time for an early morning game drive in Mosi-ao-Tunya National Park before flying to Johannesburg, South Africa.
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The park is very small. The safari was only about 2hrs long. There was quite a wide variety of wildlife, but the animals were all a bit too far away for decent photos. If you only have a few days in Livingstone, I would recommend a day trip, or overnight trip to Chobe National Park in Botswana, which is only 40min away from Livingstone. The quantity & quality of the animal sightings there are phenomenal! But that will be a whole other blog post :)

The park runs along the Zambezi River.
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That 'cloud' is not a cloud. It is the mist from Victoria Falls! The mist could be seen from nearly anywhere in town.
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Family of ellies :)
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Herd of buffalo on the road
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Baby bufflao
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Baboon in the morning light.
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Zebras, my fave animal :)
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Nile Croocdile on the riverbank
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My very first rhino sighting ... ever! I was in Kenya 2yrs ago and didnt see any at all! So I was quite excited to see this guy!!
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While staying in Zambia I spent 2 days on a camping safari across the border in Botswana, but that will be in the next blog post :)

Posted by ChantelleS 13:59 Archived in Zambia Tagged wildlife elephant waterfall africa zambia lion Comments (0)

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