Thursday, 23 November 2017

Coast to Coast Canada Road Trip


  2017 is the year Canada turns 150 years old. In honour of this, Parks Canada created a pass allowing all national parks free of fees. What a perfect year to visit as many Canadian national parks via road trip! This year, my boyfriend Kyle, my dog Mojo, and I flew from Iqaluit to Vancouver to attempt a coast to coast cross Canada trip! It has now been checked off my bucket list.


    Growing up, my dad was always a road trip enthusiast. Many times we'd cross the prairies and one summer we even drove from Vancouver all the way up to Alaska. It is a shame to say, back then I was not able to truly appreciate his efforts!

 
    In high school I had a teacher once speak about how when she first arrived in Canada with her family as immigrants (I believe from Poland), her father insisted they do a road trip across Canada because he felt it was important that him and his family knew where and what the country they called their new home was comprised of. It has always stuck with me as a vivid memory because in that moment I agreed and believed it to be true.

 
    If I could, I would convince everyone to do the same. Canada is an amazing country in more ways than one could count. I am so lucky and will be forever grateful to be called a Canadian citizen. 





More photographs on my Instagram  

Camera body : Canon 6D
Camera Lens : Canon 85mm 1.2, Canon 16-35mm 2.8

Camera Fisheye Lens: Opteka 6.5mm 3.5




x

Han
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Friday, 8 September 2017

Dog Sledding in the Arctic

  One year has officially passed since Kyle and I landed in Iqaluit. One of the activities I knew I definitely wanted to check off my bucket list while living here was dogsledding. It is so unique to the people who live up in the north, it was always so alluring to me. The company that we arranged our experience with was Inukpak Outfitting. They are an outfitting company based here in Iqaluit, Nunavut. 

  This is a link to their website : https://inukpakoutfitting.ca/en/

  They offer different packages when it comes to dogsledding to accommodate your experience. These are their current rates:

Half Day Package (4 hours) $220/person (min. 2) or $350/person (single)
Full Day Package (6 to 8 hours) $330.00/person (min. 2)
2 Days /1 Night $780/person (min. 2)
3 Days /2 Nights $1170/person (min. 2)

You can check out their website for details.

  We decided to go for the 2 days and 1 night package and did originally book our trip for April. However, activities such as these do require cooperation from the weather and our scheduled days did not comply. So we ended up rebooking for the first weekend of June and we could not have been more pleased with our time with the dog team. It was absolutely splendid and so much fun.

  Before heading out onto the sea ice to meet the team, Inukpak Outfitting helps you make sure you have the necessities in terms of gear and clothing. So not to worry!
They all are so chummy and have adorable names!
Louis-Philip was our guide from Inukpak Outfitting, he is no doubt awesome.
After a full day of sledding and picture perfect rest stops, we parked the sled and the team and headed the coziest cabin for the night.
  Indian food, what a treat! We let Inukpak outfitting know in advance of our dietary restrictions and were accommodated by every means. It was a perfect night, now would you look at that gorgeous sunset.
  We were oh so lucky to wake to such an unbelievably beautiful day. And there our furry friends were, eager to take us back to town.
And yes, of course we packed our drone for the trip! 
Thank you so much to Louis Phillipe and Inukpak Outfitting for taking us on such a memorable trip!




More photographs on my Instagram  

Camera body : Canon 6D
Camera Lens : Canon 85mm 1.2, Canon 16-35mm 2.8, Canon 70-200mm

Camera Fisheye Lens: Opteka 6.5mm 3.5

Drone: DJI Phantom 4 






Hope you enjoyed the photographs and please go if you've ever considered it!

x

Han


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Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Accommodation in Myanmar (Backpackers)


  I have to say I do wish I took photos of our accommodation but I regret to write that I did not. I do however still want to make this post. Not because I have crucial informative content but because before I left I was curious to know what the prices were going to be like at the guest houses and I found it pretty difficult to find online. I understand the prices change, especially when it comes to different times of the year, so I want to mention that Kyle and I travelled throughout the month of January in 2017.

  Basically all I want to inform you of in this post are relative prices of accommodation we paid while we travelled through Myanmar. Keep in mind we backpack and we tried very hard to shoe string budget.

Mandalay -> ROYAL GUEST HOUSE: K6000/14.00USD per person (for a double room).
Hsipaw -> NAM KHAE MAO GUEST HOUSE: K14000 for a double room.
Bagan -> EDEN HOTEL: 20.00 USD for a double room.
Kalaw -> PINELAND INN: 30.00 USD for a double room.
Inle Lake -> DIAMOND STAR HOTEL: 15.00 USD per person (for a double room).
Magwe -> KAUNG SANN THANT KST MOTEL: K30 000 for a double room.
Ngwe Saung beach -> LOVERVIEW: K30 000 for a double room.
                                  -> SILVER COAST RESORT: 30.00USD per person (for a double room).
Yangon -> WHITE HOUSE HOTEL: K18 200 per person (for a double room).

Those are the prices. The only comments I have for these accommodations are on NAM KHAE MAO GUEST HOUSE - the employees were extremely kind and helpful and SILVER COAST RESORT - this place was little out of our planned budget but it was on the frontier of the beach, our room was wonderful and the buffet breakfast was amazing.

I hope this is helpful, please leave any comments or questions you have, I will answer as best I can.

x

Han.

More photographs on my instagram,  

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Tips for Myanmar : Kalaw Trek



  Whilst doing research and planning our Myanmar trip. I came across photographs of the Kalaw mountains and read it was quite a popular activity to go on multiple day treks into the mountains. The photos looked so gorgeous and I knew it was something I wanted to add to our itinerary.

  Once we got to Kalaw we sought a few trek agencies and were told Sam's family-run agency was one of the best ones to look into. In the end we decided to do a 2 night 3 day trek and am very glad we did.

  I've mentioned in a previous post, about travelling vegan/vegetarian, our guides were very accommodating and we ate very well! Also, not many of the Burmese speak english but our guides spoke well and were able to teach us a bit of Burmese and answer any questions we had. I found them very helpful and genuine.

  A tip I have if you do decide to trek Kalaw is that the mountains do get cold during the night even in the middle of summer. Going to the market and getting an inexpensive set of warm clothes was not a bad idea for us!

x

Han

*Below are some charming elderly folk we met along the way during our trek. They are wearing their traditional head wraps and welcomed photographs.


More photographs on my instagram,  

A Myanmar vlog is up on my channel if you would like to see what it was like for us,



Camera body : Canon 6D
Camera Lens : Canon 16-35mm 1.2







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Tuesday, 30 May 2017

What to pack for Myanmar (Backpackers)


  I'd like to start by saying we met this one man while we were travelling on a bus during our Myanmar trip. He said that this was not the first time backpacking in Myanmar and that one time all he had in his backpack was a set of clothes and a bar of soap and he was perfectly fine doing it that way. We thought we packed light but he showed us up, he really did.

  As someone who loves photographs and videography, I say bring along all the camera equipment you have and you will not regret it. I will link below my instagram and youtube channel and you will see what I mean. Capturing moments are so precious and whenever I look back on what I've recorded, it simply brings me back to where I was in that moment in time. Such a treasure it is.

  Now, other than camera gear, here are some things that I recommend bringing:

  • wet wipes - Myanmar is a country you do not want to skimp when it comes to temples. And temples mean that you have to take off your shoes to really get the full experience. I have to add that temples like the one in Mt. Popa have monkeys and there are feces on the stairs up to the top. It's nice to freshen up before you put your shoes back on, at least I thought so.
  • flip flops - Furthermore, taking off your shoes for all the temples becomes so much more convenient when you are able to just slip in and out of your flip flops. The weather is hot, keep your toes free.
  • insect repellent - there are always mosquitoes and they are annoying really anywhere you are in the world. They really do help, try and purchase ones that say Deet on them.
  • water bottle - It is extremely important to stay hydrated in the hot months of Myanmar. Most guest houses have filtered water jugs for foreigners, so take advantage and fill up when you can!
  • light clothing - look at the man that only packed one set of clothes and remember to pack light, and light clothing! Take into account that you will probably want to purchase and wear a longyi when you get to Myanmar, they are so easy and breezy!
  • guide book - lastly, I would encourage you to get your hands on a guide book. It doesn't have to be the latest edition and most expensive. We were able to get one that was second hand and an old edition and it still really helped. There are maps in the guide books and it is good for reference just in general.
  I hope this was somewhat helpful. Let me know if you have any questions or comments!

x

Han.

More photographs on my instagram,  

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Monday, 29 May 2017

Travel Myanmar with Language Basics


  I'd like to start by saying we met this one man while we were travelling on a bus during our Myanmar trip. He said that this was not the first time backpacking in Myanmar and that one time all he had in his backpack was a set of clothes and a bar of soap and he was perfectly fine doing it that way. We thought we packed light but he showed us up, he really did.

  As someone who loves photographs and videography, I say bring along all the camera equipment you have and you will not regret it. I will link below my instagram and youtube channel and you will see what I mean. Capturing moments are so precious and whenever I look back on what I've recorded, it simply brings me back to where I was in that moment in time. Such a treasure it is.

  Now, other than camera gear, here are some things that I recommend bringing:

  • wet wipes - Myanmar is a country you do not want to skimp when it comes to temples. And temples mean that you have to take off your shoes to really get the full experience. I have to add that temples like the one in Mt. Popa have monkeys and there are feces on the stairs up to the top. It's nice to freshen up before you put your shoes back on, at least I thought so.
  • flip flops - Furthermore, taking off your shoes for all the temples becomes so much more convenient when you are able to just slip in and out of your flip flops. The weather is hot, keep your toes free.
  • insect repellent - there are always mosquitoes and they are annoying really anywhere you are in the world. They really do help, try and purchase ones that say Deet on them.
  • water bottle - It is extremely important to stay hydrated in the hot months of Myanmar. Most guest houses have filtered water jugs for foreigners, so take advantage and fill up when you can!
  • light clothing - look at the man that only packed one set of clothes and remember to pack light, and light clothing! Take into account that you will probably want to purchase and wear a longyi when you get to Myanmar, they are so easy and breezy!
  • guide book - lastly, I would encourage you to get your hands on a guide book. It doesn't have to be the latest edition and most expensive. We were able to get one that was second hand and an old edition and it still really helped. There are maps in the guide books and it is good for reference just in general.
  I hope this was somewhat helpful. Let me know if you have any questions or comments!

x

Han.

More photographs on my instagram,  

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Ballooning in Myanmar


  I mentioned this in my top ten Myanmar post but I will emphasise here once more that you need to book ahead of time if you would like a balloon ride in Bagan. I think when we made our first stop in Bagan, we tried to book maybe 3 days ahead and they were fully booked and could not accommodate us. Basically, we ended up making an unnecessary second trip in order to experience the hotly sought ballooning over Bagan.

  I have to say I am well pleased we went back and decided to commit to the idea of doing it. It was an activity I knew I wanted to partake in even before I started any real planning for our backpack adventure.

  Balloons over Bagan is the company we went with. They have two locations, one here in Bagan and one over Inle lake. Bagan is where most travellers like to do it and I can definitely see why it is so alluring. The hundreds of ancient temples really make the experience happen.


  I believe it was $330.00 USD per person for us - it depends on the package you choose. Besides our flights, this was the only chunk of money we spent because we thought it was worth it! They pick you up at your guest house the day of around dawn and have coffee/tea and biscuits waiting for you while the balloons get prepped. At the end of the ride, champagne awaits and a bit of time is spent chitchatting with other travellers before heading back to your guest house. If the opportunity comes your way, I very much recommend it!

x

Han.

More photographs on my instagram,  

A Myanmar vlog is up on my channel if you would like to see what it was like for us,



Camera body : Canon 6D
Camera Lens : Canon 16-35mm






Other links on my blog related to Myanmar:


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What is Myanmar Sunscreen?


  One thing that really stood out to us as we travelled Myanmar was how much culture and way of life was well-preserved and left untarnished down to the articles of clothing. Men and women alike wear longyis and sandals and many wear this pastey yellow substance on their face as protection from the sun.

  It is called Thanaka. Ground tree bark mixed with a bit of water makes the paste and has a pleasant smell and cooling sensation on the skin. You can find them to be plentiful at the markets. Below you can see Kyle having some applied by a kind Burmese lady at the Bogyoke Aung San Market in Yangon.

  I thought it to be really neat and uniquely beautiful to see, so I got myself a little tub and happily integrated it into my Myanmar morning routine.

x

Han.

More photographs on my instagram, (handle:haninvan) 

A Myanmar vlog is up on my channel if you would like to see what it was like for us,



Camera body : Canon 6D
Camera Lens : Canon 16-35mm





Other links on my blog related to Myanmar:

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Sunday, 28 May 2017

Eating in Myanmar (Vegan/Vegetarian)


  To start this blog post off, Kyle my boyfriend and I have changed our diet to a plant-based one for about three years now and decided we were going to commit to it while we did our travels as well. One thing we did know heading to Myanmar was that the country was widely buddhist and buddhists tend to swing more vegetarian. Moreover, we knew there would be plenty of options and opportunities to try different vegetarian dishes without too much trouble.

  The first guest house we stayed at, I was quick to ask reception what the word for 'vegetarian' was in Burmese. The lady behind the desk was very kind and wrote me some phonetics on a small piece of paper. Writing this post, I wish I had taken a photograph of it as it has stuck in my head as a memorable visual. The letters read "that that look". Now one could argue that this word is not accurately pronounced this way but it was a good start for me. The more I used this word, the more the locals helped me to hone in on the pronunciation. Apparently the word means 'lifeless', which worked great for us.

  Initially, I was wary about eating our meals at food stalls on the street and I would look for the busy little shops - just because I did not want to fall ill during our travels. Eating vegetarian actually seemed to be helpful and Kyle became ill just once. More and more we came to trust the street vendors and very quickly fell in love with Burmese cuisine.

  Some of my personal favourites while travelling Myanmar was the tea leaf salad, pennywort salad, and the Shan noodles.

  Most of our meals were very inexpensive (especially if we ventured into shops with locals). Sometimes our breakfast meals came to 0.50 cents Canadian!

  I hope you enjoy the photographs in this post, it really does bring me right back. Let me know if you have comments, questions, or concerns!

x

Han.

More photographs on my instagram, (handle:haninvan) 

A Myanmar vlog is up on my channel if you would like to see what it was like for us,



Camera body : Canon 6D
Camera Lens : Canon 16-35mm













Other links on my blog related to Myanmar:

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Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Myanmar (Burma) Top Ten - Part 2

6. Temples of Bagan

  In Bagan, tourists are permitted solely to the riding of E-bikes. I assume it may have something to do with the large amount of tourism and previous accidents on motor-bikes. Nonetheless, the E-bike we rented was very much fun and and excellent way to get about through and around the ancient temples of Bagan (The cost of the E-bikes are 8000 Kyat for the day - seats 2). We did balloon over the temples as well; however, getting close up and personal was a completely different experience and not something one should skimp out on. 

7. Biking in Hsipaw

   I have to say one of our happiest memories of Myanmar was in Hsipaw. Just how friendly the people are and the beauty there seems to be underrated. In Hsipaw we rented a motorbike for the day and headed inland.

  *I also want to add that we visited the Shan Palace here where the the wife of the last Shan Prince's nephew currently resides. Her name is Fern and she spends her days educating the locals as well as tourists about Myanmar's current and unfortunate past political situation. I found being in her presence to be endearing and inspirational. (Below is a photograph of a room in her home, she is on the very left.)


8. Hsipaw Morning Market

  Now, if I have convinced you to make a stop in Hsipaw, you might very well wish to visit the morning market there. The market beings in the very early hours of the morning, I believe 4am. Candles are lit for light and there are many vendors as well as buyers. You will see an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables and if you venture further into the tents, there is a delicious opportunity for a delightful and cheap breakfast. 

9. Nwe Saung Beach

  Once most of our stops had been ticked off our itinerary, we decided we were ahead of schedule and squeezed in one more destination, Nwe Saung Beach. A stop we absolutely do not regret. The beach was gorgeous and unpopulated. We stayed at hotel right on the coast called Silver Coast Beach Hotel and I definitely recommend it. As you can see from the photo above, the sunsets at this beach were unreal!
10. Inle Lake

  Last but not least Inle lake. You are able to rent a boat + driver for the day and all I can say is it is worth every Kyat (18,000 Kyat for up to 4 seats). Mind you, if you head out of your guest house during the day, all you will get is endless boatmen asking if you would like a boat ride. And please do ask many of the boatmen before you settle - as if you are a tourist, they may try to play you.

Also it is a good idea to purchase some cold beer and some snacks for the ride ;).



That is the end of my Part 2 of top ten of Myanmar (Burma). If you have yet to see Part 1, here is the link:
 http://www.haninvan.com/2017/03/myanmar-top-ten-part-1.html

Thanks for reading and see you soon,

x

Han


Camera body : Canon 6D
Camera Lens : Canon 16-35mm & Canon 85mm 1.2

Editing Software: Lightroom

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