Sunday, 4 August 2019

HORSESHOE BEND & GEOTAGGING


The money shot they say. What I was not expecting were the amount of people standing next to me.

After this trip, we came across this Vox video on how geotagging harms nature. It features Horseshoe Bend. The video is thought provoking and encourages travellers to practise mindfulness to the natural places they visit. Please watch :).

We only have one planet. Let's take care of it.

x

Han
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Saturday, 3 August 2019

Auyuittuq National Park (Akshayuk Pass) : TOP TIPS

 
    The Akshayuk Pass has been one of the most challenging but equally rewarding hikes I have yet to experience. Now, you may be so lucky to have the opportunity - I highly recommend you take it! If you are here because you already have decided you will be doing the pass, I pass on some wisdom to you. Here are some things I wish I had known/advice I wish I had listened to/or a list of what you may find helpful as you prep for your hike:



1. Fly with Aeroplan points.
    If you are not familiar with Aeroplan, they are a loyalty program based on a points system you collect when you travel (Air Canada). Flying the north can be criminally expensive. If you do not live in the north, I will assume you will be flying up from Ottawa and then flying from Iqaluit to Qikitarjuaq or Pangnirtung (depending on which end you begin your hike). Even if you can use your accumulated points for just one leg of the trip, your bank account will thank you. Collect those points!

Aeroplan Website:

*Also! when you are booking your flight up island, try to get a window seat! Those views are out of this world.


2. Hiking poles. 
    I feel pretty comfortable hiking with my pack without poles; however, they are game changers when crossing those rivers (take two per person!). We only packed two poles between the two of us and it was a big regret! #ragrets

Not to mention they do actually really help take weight of your back when you need to hike 10 hours.


3. Neoprene. 
    Those glacial river crossings are absolutely no joke! When they say nothing can prepare you for the initial shock, its the cold truth. I admit, I was told to pack two poles and I decided to forego that advice - but neoprene boots, nobody said anything about.

The only reason I include this is because we saw one Austrian couple (absolutely put together - contrarily we are the couple that always has some makeshift gear in our pack haha) getting ready to cross the river and this is what they did: They put on some thin waterproof pants, wriggled into neoprene booties with velcro ankle straps, secured their waterproof pants buy tucking them into the booties and velcro-ed them snug.

Basically this couple made these river crossing look like taking candy from a baby and then there was us, regaining mental stability (that water is honestly that cold).

This is something similar to what they had - I found on the MEC website:

This is a photo of what I remember them looking like:

The trip would have been completely different with these. Just saying. (and the waterproof pants)


4. The Map. 
    Purchase the map. Parks Canada sells them to you at orientation. Buy it. $20.00
It's hard to get lost per se because you are hiking through a valley, but just in case it's nice to know where you are and how far away you have from rivers, emergency shelters, caches etc.




5. Baby wipes. 
    There's no way I see anyone bathing in any of those rivers.

Not an excessive amount because they add weight, but packing some will add simple pleasures to your multi-day hike.


6. Foxes. 
    They will steal unattended shoes! Make sure to keep them inside your tent. How much would it suck to lose a boot!


7. Weather Forecast. 
    Having a printed hard copy or a screen shot of the coming weather before you lose wifi is a great idea. Each emergency shelter has a radio that broadcasts daily weather conditions, but it's nice to kind of have an idea if you aren't able to make it to the shelter in time for the forecast or just want to have a general knowledge of what to expect.


8. When in Qikitarjuaq. 
    We arrived in Qikitarjuaq the day before we were scheduled to start our hike. We asked Parks Canada and they didn't have a problem with us pitching our tent outside their building in the back. What they did not warn us about are the children. You see, during the summer in the north, the sun doesn't set - this means neither do the kids. Basically they threw rocks at our tent all night and asking them to stop only made them more enthusiastic.

Little did we know, making the walk to the campground maybe/probably would have been worth the sleep we wish we had gotten.


9. Blogs. 
    One thing that I did do, which I'm glad I did, was read through the blog posts I could find of others who have also done the pass. I found they gave me a much better understanding of what we were getting ourselves into :).


10. Visitor Information Package PDF. 



Click on the link that gives you the pdf. It has just about everything you need to start your preparation and more. 






    I really hope that this post was in some way helpful and or insightful if you are considering the Akshayuk Pass. It was truly an incredible experience for me and I am so much more appreciative of where I live because of it. If you have any questions, feel free to ask away!


x

Han




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Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Learning Spanish in Guatemala


   The only remotely excusable reason as to why this is the representative photo of this blogpost is that I was honestly really in this town just to learn Spanish. Also, my teacher kept reiterating it was dangerous to keep pulling out my big dslr in public. The bottom half of this lady you see in this photo was my homestay host. A tiny lady, she could not be more than five feet tall. Always wearing her traditional Mayan dresses. I want to say her name was Esmeralda but it's been a while since I've thought about it and my memory is a bit foggy. But more importantly, she was so sweet, she fed me three times a day and helped me practise my Spanish each day after school.

   Planning my Guatemala trip, I knew that I wanted to dedicate a good portion of my time there learning some proper Spanish. After some research, I decided to go to Quetzaltenango and attend a school called El Portal Spanish School. Many foreigners go to Quetzaltenango to learn Spanish because well first, it's a lot cheaper than say Antigua (a bigger city) and because it's more common to be taught one-on-one. Also, if you are staying with a homestay family, they are likely to host less students at once. I would highly recommend staying with a homestay family if you are considering it, it was the ultimate cultural experience for me.

   The reason I chose to attend El Portal Spanish school in particular was because they support poor single mothers to help provide their children with education. I thought that was special. This is their website: http://www.spanishschoolelportal.com/

   As for pricing, I believe it fluctuates depending on the season but I went in August and it was 900Q for a week of school (5 hours of class per day) and 300Q for home and board so 1200Q together. I just googled the conversion and it comes to $205.25 Canadian. Also after class, there are different daily activities such as going chocolate tasting, textile shopping, taking the chicken bus to the next village, or my favourite - going to the market for local ingredients and making nachos.

   My week in Quetzaltenango learning Spanish was nothing short of awesome. I left having learned a lot and with so much more confidence than when I arrived. Gracias!

x

Han.
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Travelling Guatemala as a Solo Female


   In this day, travelling as a solo female is quite common. Having said this, I was met with a bunch of concerns when I announced I'd be travelling to Guatemala alone. Now, being back safe at home, I do have some tips if you find yourself in the same shoes. Honestly, most or all of it is common sense and probably things you have already heard before and what you should practise in any country you travel alone really.

   First, this is not so much a safety concern but I did find it really helpful having researched how much things were generally going to cost beforehand. There were a few times where I had locals ask for double or even triple the going rate. It's easier when you are travelling with a partner or in a group to discuss or negotiate pricing, but when you are travelling solo you have none but yourself to rely on. Second is dress code. I hate this, but has to be said. Modest, non-flashy clothing to defer unsolicited attention. I would say apply this to your backpack/purse etc. also. Third, alertness and awareness. I practise sobriety when I travel alone - unless I'm really craving a beer, I'll have one. And if I'm tired I'll get myself coffee. I think I also kept a packet of instant coffee in my bag just incase for on the go. Lastly, one comment I read and was told often was that Guatemala City was dangerous and to get out of there asap once you arrive. I met a guy in Xela who told me he was mugged there with a gun pointed at him. yikes.

   These are the precautions I pass on to you, but I'd like to say I never encountered anything that made me feel I was in danger at all. Travelling Guatemala was insanely beautiful and such a culturally fulfilling experience! 100% recommend!

x

Han.
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Monday, 18 February 2019

Life Update


   I was such complete rubbish about posting on here in 2018. It's also more than half way through February this year! I dont think I've posted about Nuka yet, but basically what happened was - Kyle went to go see a puppy our friend was fostering from the humane society and then brought it home and never gave it back. We named her Nuka. This was near the end of 2017. So she's about a year and half old now. It's pretty insane how fast they grow. The first two photos are of when we first got her and the latter is more recent haha. We didn't really know anything much about her, other than that she was from a northern community up island (we live on Baffin Island). It's safe to assume she's part sled dog - she absolutely adores the snow. Anyways, so yeah, I'd say she's the most significant update as of late :).

Please visit a Humane Society near you #adoptdontshop

x

Han.





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Friday, 5 October 2018

L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site

Have you seen the show Vikings? 

Regretfully I hadn't before coming here. This place holds the remnants of Norse men (vikings) of thousands of years ago! It's so neat the way they have recreated their encampment with dressed actors and all.

Plus, Kyle and I had fun dressing up ourselves!


Parks Canada link https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/nl/meadows

L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site Admission Fee:

$11.70 CAD Adult: 18-64
$10.05 CAD Senior: 65+
FREE Youth: 6-17
$10.05 CAD Group: Up to seven ppl arriving in a single vehicle

Parks Canada Discovery Pass:
$67.70 CAD Adult
$57.90 CAD Senior
$136.40 CAD Group 


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Gros Morne National Park


    When I was planning out our cross Canada trip months prior, one place I knew I wanted to hit up was Gros Morne. Up top the view is incredible and well worth the tough hike! I think it took us about a little over 2 hours to the top, overall roughly 5 hours. 

    We were told dogs were not allowed because the terrain would be hard on their paws. So we went to Parks Canada and asked what our options were for Mojo. To my surprise, the Parks Canada lady pulled out a list of numbers I could choose from to dogsit Mojo for the day. His dogsitter ended up being a sweet 12 yr old boy trying to make some summer cash (his parents were home).



Parks Canada link https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/nl/grosmorne

Gros Morne National Park Admission Fee:

$9.80 CAD Adult: 18-64
$8.30 CAD Senior: 65+
FREE Youth: 6-17
$19.60 CAD Group: Up to seven ppl arriving in a single vehicle

Parks Canada Discovery Pass:
$67.70 CAD Adult
$57.90 CAD Senior
$136.40 CAD Group 


Where we slept: 
Gros Morne National Park: GreenPoint Campground https://www.newfoundlandlabrador.com/plan-and-book/campgrounds/211400

Unserviced $25.50 CAD
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