Monday, May 14, 2012

5 Reasons to Love Thailand

We had the pleasure of visiting Thailand back in 2007. It's one of those countries that are so complete and pure as a tourist destination. A magical place you'll want to visit again and again. Here are the top 5 reasons we love Thailand:  

1. Amazing Food:
We both really can't think of a better place on earth where the food is both delicious and good for you. From all the small local restaurants we went to, to the street vendors, the food was just amazing. Fruit was so sweet and fresh, it's almost like that's how fruit is supposed to taste like.

2. Beautiful Beaches:
You can't visit Thailand without visiting some of it's pristine beaches. From the famous beaches of Phuket to the Phi Phi Islands and Maya Bay, where the the film "The Beach" with Leonardo DiCaprio was filmed to all the small secluded beaches just waiting to be explored.

3. Warm People:
It isn't called the Land of Smiles for no reason...the people are warm, hospitable and welcoming. They will become a huge part of your visit and experience.

4. Ancient Ruins:
If you are an archaeological buff, or just someone who loves architecture, Thailand has it all for you. From the ancient capitol of Ayyuthaya to the old temples in Bangkok, there is a photo opportunity at every corner.  

5. Economical:
On the cheap...Thailand, and most of SE Asia are very good on your wallet. From Canada, the flight will be the most expensive piece of the trip while everything else, all the experiences, adventure, food, art, transport and hotels will make you and your wallet truly "smile".

Monday, January 30, 2012

Chivalry is Dead in Cuba

I love water...always have, always will...since I've been a young kid, my life revolved around H2O. From competitive sports like swimming, to the beach, fishing, snorkeling, to dreaming of surfing and to cliff jumping off rock cliffs in northern Ontario, So, it would make sense, that if you visit a place like Cuba, you bring your gear and try to get some snorkeling in the clear turquoise waters.

So back in June 2006, we were staying at a resort in Varadero, Cuba and we decided to snorkel. So that's exactly what we did...we walked on the beach looking for a some peace and quiet away from the crowd, and being a fisherman, looking for some type of structure or point where we could potentially see some fish. We found one about 1-2 km from our hotel, and started putting our gear on.

We got in the warm waters, and started exploring the shoreline, and gradually making our way to deeper water, where the reefs started. Aneta was behind me, about 15 metres or so, closer to shore. As I swam effortlessly through the clear waters, I started seeing more and more fish, small, medium colourful fish. The water was so clear that you could see so far away. While looking around further out into deeper water, I spotted 2 larger shapes in the water. They were about 20 metres away from me, just swimming slowly

I stared at them for about 30 seconds before realizing that the shapes was very familiar to me....too familiar if you know what I mean. It took a while, but once I knew I was looking at a couple of sharks, I literally froze. Didn't know whether to turn my back on them and swim back to shore, or keep looking, and hope they would just turn and slowly go away. Well, they didn't, they started slowly coming towards my general area!!!

Also, remembering that Aneta had no idea of what was happening or what I saw... I did what any grown man would do......I turned around and swam at Olympic speed, using my fins to my advantage. I kept swimming hard, and every 5 metres, lifted my head out of the water yelling at Aneta, "swim to shore...get out!!!"...I guess she really didn't hear me because she kept snorkeling. But once I got close enough she realized I was coming at her at full speed. Still trying to swim hard and raising my head out of the water every few strokes to yell at her to get out and swim to shore, she still didn't really get what I was doing. In awe she watched as I swam right by her and turned to her and yelled "get outttttt, sssharrrrkks!!!"...

Too bad I already passed her and was already making my way to much for chivalry!!!
She quickly followed, and we both made it to shore about 2 minutes later as she was yelling at me saying "what the hell??? what are you talking about??". That's when I told her the full story about seeing those 2 sharks. I was kind of laughing at the whole situation, and a couple of locals just stood there and stared at us confused and intrigued.

Later, I spoke to several locals, who all said, "no no seƱor , no sharks here!!".

I would eventually google shark photos from the Cuba area and realize they were harmless Nurse Sharks...which made it even more funny...but still made for a good story.