Philippines, Thailand, Australia

Getting out of your day to day routine is essential for personal growth. Travel is something that keeps me sane while giving me the opportunity to gain an abundance of knowledge about the world around me. Solo backpacking has made me the person I am today and I’ll forever be grateful for my past solo adventures. But the time had come to pass all of what I have learned onto someone who means the world to me and deserved to see my world beyond the constraints of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. After a long year without my partner in crime, my best friend, my Toma we embarked on a two-month backpacking trek across my home away from home in the Philippines and Thailand. Stopping at a few fantastic places here in Oz as well. 

Upon Em’s arrival, we picked up right where we left off. A year without your best friend is one of the hardest things I have ever done. But we have both grown so much being apart, and we’re to grow even more these next two months traveling together. We began our journey in Byron Bay, Byron holds a special place in my heart as it did for Em as well. This small town has every vibe a traveler could desire. 

Little time was wasted at home in Brisbane and before we knew it we were in the Philippines. After some fun with family and friends in Manila, we headed to La Union. La Union is a small surf town in the Northern Provenance of the Philippines. Was an interesting experience for both Em and I as I had never been. We met Lazlo one of our best friends of the trip who would be joining us in my secret oasis El Nido, Palawan to spend Christmas with our new travel family, as well my Dad and Sister Courtney. 

A year without your best friend is hard but a year without your big sister is equally as hard. It was Court’s first time backpacking as well her first time in Asia, needless to say, she fell in love with the Philippines just as fast as I had back in 2014. Christmas Day was spent island hopping around surround islands of El Nido where I was gifted a Christmas miracle from the travel gods my new Vanlife buddy Elske. More adventures stories to follow with this one. 

Was nice to share the holidays amongst my family and friends old and new. The rest of the Philippines whizzed by with a beautiful stay in San Vicente, and crazy New Years celebrations in Boracay. Court’s travels were short but sweet as she headed back to Canada Em and I were off to Thailand!

Though I have no family in Thailand, growing up in a Thai home, eating Thai food every day I have always felt like Thai culture has been a major part of my life. 

We started off at the half moon party in Koh Phangan that was amazing, the fiends made there even more so. After the sun came up we headed to Koh Tao. Koh Tao was my favorite spot last time I was in Thailand so I knew we had to go back. The staff and accommodations at The Dearly hostel were just absolutely superb. 

After Koh Tao we headed for some vibes in the hippy communes of Tonsai, Next to the luxuries of Koh Lipe, wow I had never been to Koh Lipe before but it was probably both Em and I’s favorite spot. The island is new, developed, and beautiful. The diving was amazing and vibes were real. We met Ane and Dirk our new Belgium besties and carried on to our last stop in Koh Lanta. Lanta was a trip! So many memories made that will last a lifetime. 

We spent our last days in Thailand exploring Bangkok with my dear family friend and wedding photography partner Pam who gave us the VIP local guide of the city. Was fantastic. 

It was back to Manila for one last shebang with. We departed back to Oz. Where a quick Sydney adventure happened! Lovely Kenna delighted our world there and headed back to Brisbane! 

One last stop to my favorite place North Stradbroke Island was a perfect way to end a perfect trip with my beautiful best friend. 

Thank you to everyone that made this journey so special for Em and I. There are so many more amazing travelers met that we will be in contact with you all forever.

As I always say it’s never a goodbye... always an until next time. 

Happy Birthday Toma ❤️

Indonesia 2017

I departed Indonesia at the beginning of November to complete another amazing travel experience with my Sister Brittany, Brother-In-Law Tyler, and my Dad, Gary. Indonesia was quite different than many of the other Asian countries I have traveled to. I found it quite a bit more expensive due to the prevalence of the high Australian tourism culture that inhabits this majestic and serene island of Bali.  

The journey started in Kuta  (Luckily, we missed the volcanic eruption of Mount Agung just days after our trip) being reunited with my sister, brother, and father after nearly over a year was so delightful and comforting. We spent the day relaxing alongside Bali’s more touristic destination, Drinking Bintang beer and watching the sunset while catching few waves. I assure you no time was wasted and we headed straight for Gilli Islands.

I have been to a lot of Islands in my life, but the Gili Trwawangan offered for myself the perfect balance of peace, party and above all one of the coolest dive communites I have ever come across. The family of Gilli Divers became a quick home for me and I would recommend anyone stopping by to please say hello. The highlight was a night dive where we headed into the sea with the only source of light being a single torch. Near the end of the dive, we shut off the light and entire sea became illuminated by bioluminescent plankton as you moved. It was like being an avatar underwater, just unbelievable.

We departed the Gillis and were off to the island of Flores. In the direction of Labuan Bajo (Komodo National Park), we were in search of more amazing dive adventures packed full of Manta Rays, Sharks, as well the infamous Komodo Dragons. The diving in Komodo is one of the world's best place to see the big stuff. Boy, did we ever see some amazing underwater creatures. My favorite would have to be the massive Bamboo Shark I saw on my last dive. We were joined on one of the dive days by a local a non-profit organization called Manta Watch. It was amazing to learn more about this majestic specimen, please click the link to learn more.

While on the Island, I met my dearest new Dutch friend Sacha, we embarked on an amazing day-long trip to Komodo National Park, with stops on Prada Island, Pink Beach, and Komodo Island. Komodo Island isn’t what’s it’s all cracked up to be, personally the state of the island was not the most beautiful and the Dragons were not living amongst the healthiest conditions. Keep in mind if you’re going to base your trip here off of the dragons, your best is to see some at your local zoo, or wildlife center.

Our last stop of the trip would be back in Bali in Ubud. Which is home of the world-renowned Sacred Monkey Forest. This, on the other hand, I would recommend to any traveler, as it is a world-class facility and magical experience. We took an amazing Balinese cooking class, highlighted with a trip to the local market. The last days were spent chasing waterfalls and the rice terraces that Bali is very well known for.

All and all, the trip was amazing, I wish I could have seen some of the more remote parts of Indonesia that I will definitely go back for. Thank you to Britt and Ty for coming across the world for me and letting me follow you on this unforgettable adventure. Spending quality time with the ones you love most isn’t always the easiest while traveling abroad far away from home, but the lessons learned in Indo helped me so much in thinking as a team and become a stronger, non-independent traveler.

All my Love and Laughs.

XOXO

D